The Edu-Blogosphere


Introduction


Like other Web 2.0 technologies, blogging connects people and ideas. There are, of course, blogs addressing pretty much every topic imaginable: Personal interests and family, education, politics, news, entertainment, arts, culture, sports, lifestyle, hobbies, social causes, technology, business, self-help, etc. Technorati's "State of the Live Web" for April 2007 reported tracking over 70 million weblogs and counting. If you can think of it, someone's most certainly blogging about it.

Blogging is more than writing. Blogging is reading, reflecting, questioning, researching, synthesizing, linking, conversing, teaching, sharing and expressing ideas. Blogging is about writing, but blogging begins with reading.





Discovery Exercise: Voices in the Blogosphere

Read at least five of the blog posts below. They are intended to give you just a tiny sampling of a few voices and blogging styles of teachers and students in the "edublogosphere," which is the category encompassing education-related bloggers and blogs. Take some time to read the comments as well, as commenting is one of the most significant aspects of blogging. Next week, you will set up your RSS reader and subscribe to a few blogs that spark your interest.

As you read, consider the following questions (feel free to adapt and expand on any of these or add your own):
  • What do you notice about the genre of blog writing in general?
  • How is blog reading different from other types of reading? How is it similar?

  • How is blog writing different from other types of writing? How is it similar?
  • How does commenting contribute to the writing and meaning-making?
  • How can blogging facilitate learning?




  • dy/dan (Mr. Meyer): Why I Don’t Assign Homework There are 176 comments and trackbacks (comment showing when another person has linked to this post in their own blog) on this post as of February 6, 2008. You don't have to read them all - says something about the provocativeness of the post, though!
  • Two Writing Teachers: Letters of Gratitude A high school teacher talks about a powerful third grade writing project -- sending thank you letters to relief workers in /haiti that really touched her heart.
  • Mrs. Edmison's Class: Questions for One of Our Favorite Authors: Grace Lin Third grade students receive a special blog comment from a beloved author answering their questions about writing.
  • Twenty-Five Days to Make a Difference (Laura Stockman): It Doesn't Matter if You're 6 or 26 or 106 On December 1, 2007, ten-year-old Laura Stockman decided to honor her grandfather's memory by helping to make a difference in the world every day for twenty five days. She did "little things that kids can do." And she blogged about her efforts. More than a year later, Laura's message and blog have inspired thousands of people to make a difference every day. If you are not convinced that blogs and other social media have the potential to change the world (and to empower our students), I hope you will take time to explore Laura's site.
  • Mark’s Edtech Blog: Is this SSR 2.0? A third grade teacher describes a "new" kind of Sustained Silent Reading.
  • Betchablog (Chris Betcher): The Myth of the Digital Native Teachers often make the assumption that our students, who have "grown up digital" are technologically fluent. It's not necessarily true. (This is a post that's particularly resonant for me, and one I think every teacher should read).
  • Remote Access (Clarence Fischer): Bias in the Classroom
  • Pre-Cal 40S (Fall '06) SCRIBE # 1 !?, intro to circular functions This is an example of a "Scribe Post," as "invented" by calculus teacher Darren Kuropatwa, in which a student (11th grader in this case) reviews the classroom learning for the day or week. The teacher sets guidelines for the quality of work and students who exceed the requirements have an opportunity to be nominated into the "Scribe Hall of Fame."
  • Dear Kaia & Skyelar: This, This, That A father helps his little girl to look for beauty in things that are ordinary, ugly or thrown away.
  • CoolCatTeacher (Vicki Davis): Spies Like Us Vicki Davis talks about the realities of teaching in a society where every cell phone is a recording device. Vicki Davis is someone you want to know about!
  • Creating Lifelong Learners (Mathew Needleman): Energize Your Classroom: How Jim Cramer Made Me a Better Teacher... Teachers can make challenging concepts "engaging and comprehensible" to students by applying techniques gleaned from CNBC's "Mad Money," with wacky, high-energy host Jim Cramer.
  • Extreme Biology: Sickle-Cell Anemia isn't Half Bad Award-winning classroom blog of a high school biology teacher in an Atlanta-area private school. Students post about different topics related to the study of biology. This is a typical student post exploring biology in action. Check out the comments in response to the student's question at the end of her post.
  • EduBlog Insights (Anne Davis): A Rationale for Educational Blogging Anne Davis, an edublogging pioneer from Georgia State University, has been blogging with elementary school students since 2002. In this post, she enumerates her reasons for blogging with students.
  • Learning is Change (Ben Wilkoff): The Ripe Environment A proposal for getting 'beyond the tools' to create an environment for real, collaborative teaching and learning. Features ten strategies (now updated with their own expanded posts).
  • Students 2.0: Teaching Brevity The author of this post is a fourteen-year-old. The Students2oh blog was collaboratively written by a group of outspoken, articulate high schoolers from across the U.S. and beyond.
  • Bit by Bit (Bob Sprankle): The Time is Now In an engaging metaphor about television "rabbit ears," Sprankle makes a case for rethinking "analog" teaching practices and moving into the digitally-driven 21st century.
  • NeverEnding Search: PowerPoint Reform - A First Chapter High school librarian Joyce Valenza shares highlights from her presentation for senior English classes on how to stop making miserable PowerPoint presentations.Good points and good resources.
  • Patrick's Update: 5th Grade This post was written by an at-risk fifth grader who struggled with writing and school success in general. Anne Davis shares it as an example of the importance of comments in blogging.
  • A Really Different Place (Carleigh): One Family's Story of Survival A sixth grader who blogs as part of a classroom community of writers shares a story about the recent plane crash on the Hudson River.
  • Weblogg-ed (Will Richardson): What Did You Create Today? Prolific edublogger Will Richardson shares some questions he hopes his children might be able to answer about their school experiences.
  • Andy Carvin / Learning NOW: An Open Letter About Cyberbullying Andy Carvin responds to a nerve-striking "humor" article in Wired Magazine.
  • Pair-a-Dimes (David Truss): Students, Information and Schools A brief but provocative post that asks us to think about how information access has changed for our students. Read it -- the graphic will kill you (metaphorically).
  • A Simple Desultory Dangling Conversation (Skydaddy): _The Upside Down Pop Quiz A teacher rethinks and reworks the traditional "pop quiz" to provide an incentive for students to really learn what he wants them to learn.
  • Wandering Ink: How To Prevent Another Leonardo Da Vinci An argument about the ways in which the current education system and adolescent culture discourage creative thought. (If this interests you, you may want to view Sir Ken Robinson's AMAZING TED Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity?).
  • Duck with a Blog: Second graders Write About Our Missing Duck Award-winning elementary blog about an unexpected guest. Be sure to click the duck to read the students' stories.


Task


Create a blog post in response to the exploratory reading and questions listed above. Feel free to reflect on anything that struck you about the posts themselves or the genre of blogging in general. Be sure to include a link to any post(s) you refer to (see "permalink" note and videos below)


IMPORTANT NOTE: When linking to a blog post, you need to use the post's Permalink. Because blogs are frequently updated, as posts "get older" they are pushed off the "front page" into the archives. Wha??? Fear not: each post has a unique URL (web address), called a Permalink, typically containing the post title and date, or a unique post number.


Examples:



Each link above is the permalink, so you can simply copy the URL from your browser's address bar when using it in your post.

EQUALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: Unlike email or Word, simply pasting a URL into your post won't make it a link. You need to use the "Insert Link" button. See "adding links" video below for help.




HELP Videos:




Stretch Task

Visit the blogs of one or more of the teachers participating in this professional development and contribute a comment in response to one of their posts. Try to include specifics in your comment, relate to your own experiences and even ask questions. Type or paste the URL of your own blog in the "website" field so that they know where to find you.

HELP Video: How to leave a comment on someone's blog