Blogging to Learn

As the start of the school year approaches, educators are busy preparing for a great year. As learners, many of us will approach the new year with excitement and optimism after reflecting on our own teaching during our time away from the classroom. 

Those of us who sport a growth mindset typically start each school year with the intention of being better. We have collected new ideas, thoughtfully considered how to implement them, and we are excited to make a difference in the lives and education of our students. 

I truly believe that all educators should consider blogging as a tool for learning and this seems like the perfect opportunity to once again try to encourage all educators to blog!

Why I Blog

Blogging about experiences makes me accountable for taking the time to thoughtfully reflect on teaching and pursue ways to kick the learning up a notch. I learn more from blogging than from any other professional activity I participate in. Quite simply, I blog to learn. 

Why Educators Should Blog

Becoming a blogger is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to grow as an educator. For many, blogging can become an essential part of the workflow, requiring us to dig deeper, engage in research, explain and reflect. Good blogging should include exploring the blogs of others as models, and sharing ideas and resources with your audience. The audience may be students, teaching teams, parents, or educators across the world. Blogging will ultimately help you become a connected educator. 

Why Students Should Blog

Blogging provides students with authentic opportunities to improve writing, engage in research, read more and personally connect with their own learning through thoughtful reflection. If that’s not enough, please consider these ideas.
  • Blogs offer an exciting way for students to engage in real-world writing. 
  • Blogs give students a voice and an audience. 
  • Students write better and put more thought into the revision process when they are publishing for an audience.
  • Blogs allow for feedback through comments which can be very motivating.
  • Blogging requires students to engage in everyday research and dig deeper to construct knowledge through the synthesis of ideas.
  • Blogging provides students with opportunities to connect with their own learning by remixing content, developing new ideas, and thoughtfully reflecting.
  • Blogging provides educators with many opportunities for teaching students about digital citizenship, including Internet safety, crediting sources and practicing good online etiquette.
  • Student blogs provide parents with a convenient and personalized opportunity to connect with their children’s learning experiences.

Advice About Blogging

Throughout the course of my career as a blogger, I have helped many teachers get up and running with a blog. Here is my advice, based on The School of Hard Knocks, so to speak.
    1. Start simple! A new blog will have just one post. Write the post for yourself to explain why you have decided to start a blog.
    2. Since it takes time and effort to get people to check a blog, do not spend hours and hours filling your blog with information. Just use the blog as a tool for yourself, but write it for an audience.
    3. As you continue to experiment with blogging, explore the use of simple original images to capture visitors’ attention.
    4. Learn to embed.
    5. Model good digital citizenship. We expect students to use copyright-friendly images, credit sources and share their own original work, and it’s important for education bloggers to dig deep into Best Practices and try it yourself.
    6. When you are ready to share your blog with the world, use Twitter and other social media platforms to connect with educators and build your PLN.
    7. Share your blog with your students and provide them with opportunities to blog.


    Embrace Change in the New Year with Genius Hour

    Genius Hour is a powerful movement popping up in classrooms everywhere. The idea encourages students to explore and develop their own passions and creativity. 
    Genius Hour is based on a business practice used by Google’s development team. Google allows their designers to spend 20% of their time on projects that interest them, as long as the work might possibly lead to something that could be developed. Gmail was the result of Genius Hour.
    Watch this video and

    Why Blog?

    Teachers who regularly blog are creating chronological and searchable records of their own growth and development. This is a good reason for teachers to blog.

    Why Teachers Should Consider Blogging

    A blog is a journal that is filled with ideas, your ideas. It is flexible, visual and user friendly. A blog can be a tool for self-reflection. One who blogs as part of the regular workflow must dig deeper in order to explain. 

    One Example of Growth: My Journey with Wordle

    Since March of 2009 this Cool Tools Blog has been my primary tool for teaching and learning, which means I have blogging for four years. One example of my own learning and growth can be found by taking a closer look at the tool I chose to introduce in my first post, Wordle.  Explore this interactive image to see how I adapted and fine tuned my use of this one tool to meet some teaching challenges and needs over the course of the past four years. Find all of these examples on this blog, of course.

    Why Blog?

    • To keep a journal of your professional growth.
    • For something to strive for. The best blog posts are those that reflect on successful experiences.
    •  To document and share the great things you’re doing in the classroom through vivid samples and snippets of what’s going on.
    •  To teach students about digital citizenship and web etiquette as you engage them in discussion about what’s going on in the classroom.  

      Who Should You Blog For?

      Blog for yourself. Blog about the learning that occurs inside and outside of your classroom. Blog about ideas. Blog to document the great things you are doing.  If you decide an audience might benefit from reading your blog, promote your blog to that audience. Just start blogging.

      How to Get Started

      There are many free and user friendly platforms to suit a variety of blogging needs. 
      Check out Blogger, EduBlogs, WordPress and KidBlog to see which tool works best for you. If you are interested in joining an online community of bloggers, check out the EduBlogs Teacher Challenge, a self-paced learning adventure that’s sure to keep you engaged.

      Final Thoughts

           With the end of the school year in plain sight, this Spring just might be the perfect time to try blogging. If you don’t like it, you can end your blogging career with the end of the school year. If you do like it, you might appreciate having time to explore and fine tune your blogging skills during the summer.

      My EduBlogs Nomination & Thank Yous

      I am very honored to be nominated for EdTech Blog of 2012

      My blog is an essential part of my workflow and it is my most important tool.  I would like to thank some amazing people who have kept me blogging.

      Janet Barnstable
      Thank you for encouraging me to blog and getting me started with my favorite and most useful tool. You always point me in the right direction and I am so thankful for you, your guidance and our friendship.

      Dr. Kevin Anderson
      Thank you for leading the way and encouraging me to create and teach others.

      Sarah Chilton Rose
      Thank you for publishing the first comment on my blog. This has kept my focus on publishing a simple blog for busy teachers and I  do try to keep it short and sweet. 

      Sarah Chilton said…
      “So glad you did this. I think it is fun that there is a blog out there where you don’t have to sift threw all the important information to get to the FUN STUFF!”
      April 6, 2009 4:24 PM 

      D97 Digital Leaders
      Thank you for getting me excited about blogging, creating your own blogs, and giving me a reason to blog in the early days. I had the time of my life teaching and learning with you.

      Naomi Harm 
      Thank you for finding my blog and sharing the collaborative wiki projects in the sidebar on Twitter. Your tweet sent me so many visitors that I started tweeting myself, which opened the door to a whole new way of collaborating, connecting and learning. 
      Thank you for letting me be a regular guest blogger so I can write a little more sometimes.

      My Readers
      Thank you for reading my blog, sharing it, trying some of the ideas and making personal connections with me. I really love that part.

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