By CUE Member and guest blogger Jennifer Wagner
As many of us begin our new school year, our plates are already full- piled high with things we already know we can’t get done: new students to get to know, new standards (for many), perhaps a new principal, a new grade, or even a new campus. Our “school” lives are full and yes, now I am going to add one more item to your agenda: blogging to develop your Personal Learning Network (PLN) and your own classroom world.
Now before you raise your hand and say “nope, not gonna,”….let me share with you why I think blogs must be a part of your classroom lifestyle.
- Blogging is Reflective: How often do we truly take the time (as the teacher and as students) to stop and look over the past day, or week, or month? Maybe you are better than I, but it often seems that I start in August, blink, and it is June already. Blogging gives me and my students the chance to reflect. To review. To remember.
- Blogging is Sharing: Many of us have been in education for some time now, often on a solitary journey where we enter our classroom and close the door. Blogging allows us to share our ideas, concerns, and needs with others. It is also an opportunity for our students to share what is happening in the classroom as well.
- Blogging is Self-Promoting: Go ahead and boast that you have the best class in the entire world, that you have a wonderful boss, or work on a fantastic campus. Be a promoter for all that is good on your school! Be vocal, be open, be proud.
- Blogging is Hard: Okay, I admit it…blogging is one of the hardest things you will do. Not the time that it takes. Not the effort that it takes. But the willingness to open yourself, your class, and your campus in order to allow other thoughts in. It can be a bit intimidating. But in the end, so very, very worth it.
And if nothing else,
- Blogging is Writing! We ask our students to write daily. Many of us expect and encourage our students to journal daily. So use yourself as a good example to show your students that you are a writer as well!
Perhaps now you might be convinced to blog or at least to not totally dismiss it. So what next?
First, you need to decide how you will blog. Yes, there are a variety of ways. So here are some examples of how several classroom teachers are blogging. Not one is the same, yet they have all found something that works best for their classroom.
- For my classroom this year, we are beginning blogging with a concept called Paper Blogging. I have framed out a part of our whiteboard and each day will choose a student from each class to write something about their time in the lab. At the end of each day, I will take a picture of the board and post it to our blog (we are using Weebly.com as our blog platform).
- Kathy Cassidy’s grade one class is using Edublogs. Each of her students have their own blog and they upload text, images, and videos. You can read more about Kathy’s journey with blogging here.
- Darren Kuropatwa had his advanced math students blog daily about what they had learned in class. Each day he chose a “scribe” to document what was learned as both a reflection and a review. You can read more about the “scribe” plan by visiting his blog here. Look to the far right column and scroll down a bit to see links to Darren’s classroom blogs. Darren uses Google’s Blogger.com platform for his blog.
- Kelly Jordan is an primary teacher in Australia. She and her students blog here. They post video, slideshows, text, images and more. You can read Kelly’s reflection on having a class blog for 6 years (post on teaching partner, Kathleen Morris’s blog). Kelly is using the Edublogs platform for blogging.
- Nicholas Provenzano is blogging at The Nerdy Teacher. Lately he has been using a lot of videos for personal reflection. But look to the left column and you will see links to Romeo and Juliet and also the Epic Evernote Experiment. By using his blog, he was able to take a classroom activity to his students 24/7 and also share this with the world. Nicholas is using Google’s Blogger.com as a platform for his blog.
Once you have taken a glimpse of each of these blogs, I know that you will see that a classroom blog is something that you need to add to your schedule. Whether you blog daily, weekly, or monthly is your option. But the necessity to share your classroom – beyond your walls — should be a given.
Sure, it takes time….but I guarantee you, the time spent will be well worth it. Sure, it is hard…..but I guarantee you the outcome will be well worth it. Sure, it is something new to manage…..but I guarantee you, your students will help you with this.
And let me know when you have your classroom blog or personal blog set-up. I look forward to reading it.
Want to Learn More About PLNs? Check out these additional articles that go into more detail about your Personal Learning Network (PLN):
- David Theriault: What’s a PLN (Personal Learning Network)? It’s a SuperHero Team Chosen By YOU!
- Jo-Ann Fox: Twitter is a Teacher SuperPower!
- Karl Lindgren-Streicher: G+ The Next Frontier
Jennifer Wagner wandered into the world of EdTech in 1978 while attending a Alumni/FamilyDay event at USC. Her eight year old mind was enthralled with the excitement of technology and she was hooked. ….. and now she is enjoying “hooking” other students (and teachers) with the wonderful options that tech offers.
Jennifer is a Google Certified Teacher as well as a Discovery Education GURU. She speaks often at conferences around the USA and hosts a podcast at EdReach.us. Ini 1999, Jennifer hosted her first online project and as of March 2013, over one million students have participated! She blogs at Thoughts by Jen and is an active “tweeter” at @jenwagner. Jen is known for her comfortable attitude in assisting teachers, her creative way of weaving opportunities, and “smiles.”
- Interested in meeting fabulous people to develop your PLN or do you want to meet your digital friends for the first time? Join us at our Annual Fall CUE conference in Napa, CA this October.