I partner with organizations in helping to understand the changing nature of learning by working together in long-term, embedded professional development that prepares us all for our future, not our past.

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I held a professional development session after school back in October around my K12online conference presentation Sustaining Blogging in the Classroom. I only had two teachers show up. Two teachers who have started blogging this year and were interested in taking it deeper and really making it meaningful to student learning.

Basically I told the teachers that you must model good blogging for your students. You to must read blogs, reflect on what you are learning, and link to other sources. That as a blogger your actions speak louder than words.

It has been fun to watch these two teachers grow into blogging with their students this year. I’ve popped in on them to look at how their blogs are coming along, how they are using them with students, and if blogs can change learning (or is all of this a big load of you know what).

Simon Power is on of our 7th Grade Humanities teachers who has taken his blog and his students to new heights this year. On his blog he does not just give assignments but also models good blogging by reflecting on things he read, adding pictures, and “thinking out loud” as he too learns (modeling how to learn…there’s a concept!).

The other day I stopped by to see what was new on the blog (and there is always something new) and he had an assignment for his students about using a program I’d never hear of called Bubbl.us. He even has pictures that take the students through how to use the site. Simon says:

This program is similar to inspiration but better!!!!!!!!!

My favorite part about the post is the very first comment a student left to the blog about his assignment.

Mr Power I posted my homework in my blog because I couldn’t print mine out…

How cool is that! Two things here that have my mind spinning.

1. Blogging for this teacher is “Just what he does” it has become part of his class. It is not something extra that he does and if you asked him if he could run his class tomorrow without it, he’d probably say no. It’s his communication vehicle with his students. He has knocked down the classroom walls and expanded this classroom to encompass global learning.

2. This student, who has been blogging now for almost 6 months, also understands that his blog is a way to communicate. He couldn’t print off his homework assignment, but knows that he could turn it in via his blog! His blog has become part of the classroom. I know Simon has had the students do assignments on their blogs and I’m sure has a reason why he wanted this assignment printed off. But the student obviously could not or did not have a printer where he was working but found a solution to turn in his work. Once it’s on his blog he can come to school and print it off if he needs to, or maybe the blog post was all he needed. The point is the student realized that the blog was a way to communicate, was part of the class, and it was an acceptable way to turn in assignments.

I’m not sure how many times I say it in my k12online conference presentation, but if you want blogging to work in your classroom…I mean really change the way business is done. It can not be “one more thing you do” it has to be what you do. It has to replace the way you write, communicate, and give and accept assignments. It needs to be a place that both the teacher and the student can look to and understand that this is a learning vehicle. Both the student and the teacher must take part in the learning that a blog can offer.

There is power to be had in these tools. But only when we commit ourselves to learning them, think about them on a deeper level for learning, and take ownership in the learning ourselves, will they have a real affect on our educational system.

Great work 7th grade! Your blogs are something to be proud of!

[tags]Blogging[/tags]

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Today I sat down with the 8th grade team who asked me to come in and talk about blogging. All 8th graders have blogs and all of the teachers now how blog. But “Now what?”

I’ve only listened to half of Clarence Fisher’s Keynote for the k12online conference (Don’t want to ruin the LAN party fun!). He touches on how pedagogy has to change. Which is exactly what I told the 8th grade team today.

I sat down with them. All of us with laptops in hand and started by saying “If you are not going to commit to blogging…really commit to it, it will fail.” I think that shocked them a little bit. I’ve set up more blogs for teachers than I can count. Some have been very successful while others have stopped using them after a week.

What makes the difference is commitment. Not commitment to blogging or blogs, but commitment to changing your classroom…change the way things run, change the way things work, change your assignments.

Lucky for me I have been thinking a lot about how to sustain blogging in the classroom as my k12online presentation on that subject is released on Thursday this week.

It’s really no secret. You have to change the way your class runs, you can not add blogs to what you do, they have to become what you do! They have to become a learning tool, they can replace something you are already doing, or you will  have to rework your schedule to find a way to make them part of your classroom.

Teachers need to understand that blogging is not journaling…journaling is journaling. Blogging is a conversation, blogging is a reflection of thinking, a creation of knowledge all done in an open come-one-come-all format.

If you are not willing to change…then don’t blog!

[tags]k12online07, blogging, pedagogy[/tags]

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Yehuda a blog out of Israel has nice 10 item list of things to remember about blogging. It’s titled: How I Became a Professional Blogger. Not sure at what point a blogger becomes a professional blogger but I like his list.

1. Have something to offer
2. Pick a subject that you’re passionate about
3. Don’t be afraid of failing
4. Make blogging a daily priority
5. Fight adversity
6. Turn to the professionals
7. Find things that aren’t being covered in your niche
8. Be promiscuous with your links
9. Maintain a focus on your readers
10. Look for opportunities

So I can see from this list I’m obviously not a professional blogger. 1,2,3 I think I’m OK with. #4: I’ve tried this a couple of times, but there are some days when I just don’t have anything to write, and I’d rather not write something than write something that doesn’t do me any good.

I think #8 is the best advise for any blogger. The more links you have the more readers you are likely to attract and as a professional blogger readers I guess turn into dollar signs.

As for me…I blog pretty much for myself. Somethings I’ll post items so I know where to find them. Like my NECC schedule. I know I’ll be blogging a lot at NECC so it just makes sense to me to have my schedule on my blog. I don’t really focus on my readers, instead I focus on my passion. On new learning, new methods, new tools, and new ideas around the use of technology in education. So if a Professional Blogger is in the Majors, I’d probably consider myself in Double A. I blog because I love it, because I find power in it and because it’s me. But I also know my chances of making it to the pros is slim to none. I don’t make enough money (none in fact) off of blogging to have it be a full time job. But I still show up everyday because I love to play the game and am passionate about what I do.

[tags]blogging[/tags]

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Popular enough for North Carolina to hold their own Science Blogging Conference. Now is it just me or is this the start of something? A state conference around blogging, and specific to a field like science.  How long before your state has a Educational Blogging Conference and is there such thing as a National or International Blogger Con? The cool thing about this is I just e-mailed the Science Blogging Conference wiki page to all my Science Teachers. What a resource! Might want to add a Science Blogger feed to your aggregator. 😉

(Via David Warlick)

[tags]blogging[/tags]

It’s funny how when you spend time like I have the past 3 days to make a point to comment on others that you start reflecting and things start clicking.

I left a couple comments that ended this way.

I hate to write, but love to blog!

The question is why? I’ve never been a good writer, I’ve hated writing for as long as I can remember. With a learning disability writing and reading were like kryptonite to me. Was never a great Language Arts teacher, but I don’t think I was that bad…having struggled with writing and reading my whole life and being up front with my students about it actually, I think, helped those reluctant learners to keep trying and plowing forward.

So why is it that I hate to write and love to blog?

First, I think a lot of it has to do with the computer and word processing. As I type this in my Firefox extension Performancing every misspelled word is underlined in red for me, giving me instant feedback on what I have misspelled. Does it catch all my mistakes, heck no, but you should see a post before it actually goes live. 🙂

Secondly, I can type faster then I can write…about 75 words/minute and you can actually read what I’ve written when I’m done.

Finally, I don’t see blogging as writing…it’s idea generation, it’s the free flow of ideas between people and it is a conversation. I love to talk (if you have a hard time writing you usually do…coping skill). I would rather stand in front of a group of parents and give a presentation, or have a face to face parent conference than write a letter home. My wife is the exact opposite. She HATES (yes it needs to be all caps) giving presentations, and would rather write a paper than give a presentation.

Because blogging is a conversation, a idea generating machine (the way I use it anyway) it speaks to me. Sure sometimes my ideas are way out there, but that’s how we work through them, how we start conversations, how we move forward and continue to progress as a society. Blogging gives me an audience, just like giving a presentation…I almost feel that way sometimes…like I’m presenting information, my thoughts rather than writing. It could be a podcast, a video, or blogging…it’s about having an audience. I wonder if I would have blogged in school, given the chance? It would have depended, I bet, on how the teacher used it as a tool. Was it a reflective journal to layout your thoughts, or did every period, capital and ‘ie, ei’ combination have to be perfect. If that was the case I’d have hated it.

Blogging is different…it’s not writing in the sense we think about it. People ask me why I blog and I truly can’t give them an answer…I just do, because it’s an outlet for me. I’d bet that I’ve blogged more in the past year then I wrote my whole life leading up to it. It’s been that powerful for me as a tool, and I see it in my students as well. In myspace and youtube…this networking, conversation, sharing atmosphere is contagious!

[tags]blogging, education, writing, conversation[/tags]

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