Good morning. Today is the first of five guest blog posts this week on TeacherTech. This is a first for my blog, but what better way to start then sharing the screen with five educators who will offer thoughtful and insightful commentary on how technology, applied in smart and relevant ways, can have a positive impact on student learning. Exactly why this blog exists. Please read on…
By Lee Kolbert
On April 30, I turned 5 years old. Well, not me really, but my personal blog. It's hard to believe I've been blogging (pretty regularly) for 5 full years. I don't think there's anything I've kept up so consistently for so long, but it’s been one of the most rewarding things I do during my free time. It's been so rewarding on a personal level that when I started teaching again last fall, one of the first items on my agenda was to create a class blog. It’s there where I post some classroom extension activities and also get to showcase some of the wonderful lessons we’ve done in class. Parents love to see exemplary work posted and will even join in by adding their own comments. It’s a great way for students and their parents to engage in some meaningful conversations about what’s going on in class.
After a few months, I started my students blogging as well. It’s been a great way to give them all a voice and a place where their work is published for the world to see. For some students, who may be very quiet in class, they have embraced their blogs as a place where they feel they can speak up. Some of my students are very proactive and have great ideas. Posting their ideas on their own blogs has given many not only a podium from which they can be heard, but also a safe and comfortable sense of control and responsibility as they publish for authentic audiences. Julia, for example, posted about Earth Day and even created her own contest. She did this on her own after participating in a webinar with Philippe Cousteau. She became inspired and turned to her blog to reach out. That post generated over 35 comments, too! It was awesome! Lately however, many of my students have been posting much the same things now and are even asking for help with blog topics. Getting stuck in a rut is easy to do.
When I received an email recently asking me to be a guest blogger on this site, I thought this would be a great opportunity to issue a blogging challenge that will be helpful for you as well as your blogging students.
A recent blog post by Chris Brogan inspired me to take a look back at some of my most recent blog posts. Chris says:
“If you start every blog post with a clean slate, with no sense of where you’re going and no sense of where you’ve been, you’re bound to repeat yourself, to get caught in ruts, to miss opportunities to diversify your content and be more helpful to others. Take a look back every now and again and see what you’ve blogged about lately.”
So, this is what I did. On Chris' suggestion, I reviewed my last 15 or so posts on my personal blog and found (with some overlap):
- 2 humor
- 3 personal classroom reflection and open letters to parents
- 5 blogging
- 3 resources
- 1 guest blog post from 3rd party
- 2 social networking/personal learning networks
- 3 class projects
So, from this I can see that I've been blogging a lot about blogging lately (as I am right now). My blogging posts have also received the most comments. I think this is because most of my readers are educators who are interested in replicating some of what I'm doing in the classroom with my students and their blogs. I believe almost all of the posts are instructional, so I'm pleased that I've kept with my personal goal of sharing helpful, practical information from the classroom perspective. According to Chris, it's important to diversify. Do I need to work on this? Not sure.
So, then I took a look at my class blog and found some posts about humor, resources, class projects and a few published student works. Some of the posts are similar to what I post on my personal blog, but with some modifications to fit my primary audience of my students and their parents. After perusing the last 15 posts, I feel I need to publish more student work as that was my original intent of the blog. While the students now have their own blog spaces and can certainly publish their own work there, it's been motivating for them to get published on the class blog. I need to get back to more of that.
So, now I challenge you to review your last 15 or so blog posts. After you do, I encourage you to write a post like this and challenge others. Call it a "meme" if you like, but let's keep it going. If your students have been blogging for awhile, I encourage you to challenge them to participate as well. Here's how it works:
- Review your last 15 posts and see where you've been, if you've kept to your mission and where you think you need to go from here.
- Write a blog post about it and link back to this original post.
- Come back here and leave a comment with your reflection and link to your post.
I'm looking forward to seeing where you've been, where you're going and adding your blog to my RSS feed. Even if you don't participate in the challenge, please leave a comment telling how you reflect on your blogging practices.
Lee Kolbert has been an educator in Palm Beach County, FL for 25 years. She currently teaches 4th grade and co-hosts a local EdTech TV show, PalmBreezeCAFE. You can follow Lee on Twitter at @teachakidd and connect further here.