1. Why did you start this blog?
I teach writing, and what better way to teach writing than to write for others — for real, and not just for “teacher.”
With the world moving into online openness, I also realized my responsibility as an educator was to guide my students into this world so they could traverse these trails with dignity and respect — of, by, and for them. Words by themselves can be misinterpreted, so thinking carefully about the message is important. We stress that in our “Net Etiquette.”
2. Your first blog was August, 2007. What challenges have you faced to “kick start” your blog?
Time and Habit: At that time I was a complete newbie, leery to jump into something without being an “expert.” it took encouragement and many discussions through webinars, twitter, and email with a growing Professional Learning Network to convince me to just start the habit.
Purpose: Why should we blog? How should we blog? These questions I pondered for a year, and the resulting reflections with the help from people I listened to in Classroom 20 Live Eluminate sessions and Teachers Teaching Teachers provided encouragement and information, especially the work of Clay Burell, Paul Allison, and Sue Waters. From these, I organized the blog themes and pages and developed our guidelines and pedagogy.
Format: Do I have a class blog or individual student blogs? The answer to that question has evolved. First, I blogged. Next, older students occasionally blogged (book reviews and reflections and at Youth Voices). Finally, with an energetic group of fifth and sixth graders anxious to share with the world, we started class blogs at the end of the year ( Fifth Tween-Agers and Native Views ). As you can see, several platforms are available.
3. That sounds like quite a journey. What advice do you have for other teachers?
a. Just do it.
b. Start blogging with your students; no one is an expert.
c. Choose a starting point that fits your time and structure: i) class blog to which students only comment; ii) class blog with students also posting; iii) teacher blog and class blog for student posts; iv) individual blogs.
d. Think topics: current events — a great place for students is tweentribune
e. Lastly, but most importantly, give your students writing journals. Encourage their stories, poems, memoirs. Let them write every day at home and school. Let them decorate them. Celebrate what they write well — a great verb, a powerful description, a clever phrase. Allow them time to “comment” on each other’s journal entries, just like a real blog. Powerful. Low tech moves to high tech.
4. On what topics do you blog?
Ok. That gets back to purpose. So:
Look inside our classroom — Seeing is believing
Look at our lessons and ideas — What Else 2 Learn
Look at my class reflections — Ask What Else
Consider teaching ideas — Pause2Play
So many reasons to write: which will you choose?
5. What about this challenge? Why did you choose this?
We have a challenge to improve scores at our school. Writing is key to thinking, so if students can think clearly in writing after reading on a topic from class or of their choice, students should improve both reading and writing.
After playing with many blogging platforms, I found that Edublogs provides this supportive environment — for students and teachers — by offering the platform and the techniques for implementation. This is where my students can flourish in a safe, supportive, positive venue. I just need that push for my consistency so I can guide their consistency. I’m ready to get them started, so this challenge, shared with my students, becomes a model of learning for them.
I think I’ll ask them to write, “Five Questions About My ___[title]__ Blog” How about you?
And, thanks to Kevin Honeycutt, I know I need to learn: