Category Archives: Blogroll

Can We Talk?

No, I am not impersonating Joan Rivers but I do want to reflect upon the importance of developing a conversation in a blog. As shared in Vicki Davis‘ blog, “The Cool Cat Teacher Blog“, the development of a two way conversation is key to building a successful blog. In the post, “How to Comment Like a King or Queen”:

“Commenting has truly been the fuel that has fired readership for my blog and opportunity for me. It is also part of being a responsible blogger in general. If one is an expert, I guess they may just want to keep their “wisdom” on their own blog, but the true conversation participants are those who contribute to the discussion wherever the blog posting is.”

She continues to discuss appropriate ways to leave a comment on someone’s blog. Make it meaningful and relevant to the posting and let the blog’s author know that you get them, understand and can relate to whatever the author was sharing. A dialogue or conversation with spark up and give each author additional content to read, reflect and write. Create relationships with ‘neighbors’, blog authors that write about postings on your blog, and become part of the bigger picture – making a difference in the life of a reader or yourself via a post your wrote or an especially moving comment left on your blog that significantly impacts you. Leaving comments does not need to be a daunting task when responding to a post on the ‘superedubloggers’ blog. Meaningful comments are always welcome, appreciated and necessary to spark the educational discourse that we are seeking to change and make a difference, leaving our imprint upon the world, one blog at a time.

I’m Starting to Get this Blogging Stuff

This is my second attempt at a personal/professional blog and think I am finally coming into my own and understanding what makes a successful blogger. By no means do I think that I am in the same ‘weight class’ as the uber bloggers, but the fact that I have readers subscribed and hits on my blog’s clustermap is a huge accomplishment for me. Although there are many factors that make a blog a success, one of those factors is reading other blogs and posting reflections about what you have read.

In the eArticle written by Dean Shareski entitled, “Student and Teacher Blogs that Succeed“, the paragraph illustrates this point beautifully.

Blogging is mostly about reading
Blogging is way more about reading than it is writing. Many teachers don’t see this at first. Most classrooms provide a good balance of traditional reading and writing opportunities. Teachers recognize that in order to be a good writer you have to read good writing. Yet when it comes to blogging, most want to write immediately and sit back and wait for the world to pay attention. It won’t happen. Provide as much time for your students to read blogs as write. If you decide you want to blog or have your students blog, don’t feel badly about spending a few weeks or even months reading blogs. Look for exemplary work. Look for blogs that you relate to. Find blogs that have a different perspective on things you’re interested in Talk with your students about the blogs they enjoy. Before you write a post, be sure you are responding to something you’ve seen, read or heard.

I can definitely testify that following this suggestion will prove to you and your readers the truth of those sentiments. The more blogs I read, I am able to see how successful blogs are structured, created, and promoted. I can ask questions or clarification of points presented in blogs by the ‘superbloggers’ and have been willing to leave an encouraging comment in return. As exciting as it is to see the red dots grow on my blog’s cluster map, utilizing tools of this type that are purposeful and aesthetically pleasing can be gleaned from other bloggers. What I have discovered is that most bloggers don’t post their reflections, thoughts and viewpoints for fame or notoriety. Most bloggers share their reflections in an effort to explore and refine the craft of teaching through the reflection process. As educators sharing best practices and thoughts about classroom strategies that work or don’t work true enlightenment occurs in a way that is not possible without taking a moment to reflect upon our teaching practices. Without reading literature, periodicals or blogs, professional growth will stagnate – just as the progress or success of your blog without posting your reflections of your lessons, activities or readings of literature or periodicals.

How do I create a Podcast or Vodcast?

While reading various educational blogs I came across the International Edubloggers DIrectory (while I was there I tooted my own horn and had my small little blog creation added to the directory!). I promptly got an email stating that my blog was now listed in the directory and I could post an image stating that I was a proud member of the directory. With that came another blog, email address and access to additional resources, blogs and wikis which led me to a Ning group at “Educational Technology – A Network for Educators Seeking to Leverage Technologies in the Classroom” .  There I found a post with step by step directions on creating podcasts and video podcasts/vodcasts. These directions combined with the resources shared by Miguel Guhlin in the post entitled, “Fabulous Podcast Resources” should enable even the ‘technologically’ challenged to created a podcast or vodcast. If the Ning site or resource websites are not blocked by your school district this would be a great post to share with other your colleagues and students. Try it out and let me know how it goes!

Read my Reflections Please!

I just finished reading a post by Miguel Guhlin entitled, “Fervent Prayer – Read Me Please“. I can definitely relate as I work hard to start and promote this blog although Miguel has blogged for years. For a short while I worked in his department in his school district and I have great respect for him as my mentor but his superb writings. Shortly before reading Miguel’s post, I was reading a post from Wes Fryer’s blog, he mentioned a post from Jon Becker’s new blog about a similar notion.

Wes Fryer’s post:

“I hear you Jon. It can be lonely to write when no one is listening or seeming to pay attention. (I flashback to April 2001 again.) Our opportunity to have conversations which both change our practice and potentially change the thinking and practices of others, however, is unprecedented TODAY in human history. I am both humbled and electrified by that reality. Yes, I blog for many intrinsic reasons. Blogging helps me process and document my own learning journey, and I frequently benefit from this virtual bread crumb path as I refer back to old posts as well as social bookmarks in tags I’ve used.”

Jon Becker’s post:

“This blog is ONLY just over 3.5 months, but I find myself obsessed with figuring out if I am contributing to any networked learning. Scott McLeod has written about “measuring” the impact of a blog and I commented that I’d like to consider some combination of comments/post/reader and number of pingbacks. In other words, I will feel like my blog is useful/valuable if it is generating discussion. People may come and learn by simply observing, but I don’t feel like that’s enough.”

This appears to be a common notion at present time and I am heartened that I am experiencing similar feelings from the ‘heavy hitters’ in educational blogging. Just as in start up venture, whether it be writing or a new business, an investment of time and reflection is necessary. The creative process can be daunting and taxing and I felt comforted that even the ‘superbloggers’ feel a twinge of uncertainty at times.

Mentioned in these bloggers’ posts throughout their respective blogs was the importance of the reflection process for growth. While the topics of the posts in the superbloggers of ed tech’s blogs seem to come and flow naturally, I struggle with what to write and will anyone care what I have to say or read what I have shared. It is difficult being vulnerable, yet striving to be a prolific writer at the same time, in my humble opinion. But the mention in Miguel’s post about the importance of the reflection process is to affect change and growth struck a chord with me.

When I was working to achieve national board certification, critical questions requiring reflection on the learning process were asked throughout the entries I had to submit. Although I had already taught for 15 years or so, initially I didn’t see how important the reflection process was or how valuable and significant to professional growth that the reflection process played. After achieving national board certification, it has become ingrained that a reflection upon the lesson I just delivered to ensuring success for my students – whether they be K – 12 students or adult students. So I thank Jon Becker, Wes Fryer, and Miguel Guhlin and all of the other ed tech bloggers for making themselves vulnerable, taking a risk and sharing their own personal reflections with the rest of the world.

Has Testing in Texas Gone too Far?

As I was reading some of my educational blogs, I came across this news story about a principal threatening to kill a group of middle school science teachers if their performance on the 8th grade science TAKS test doesn’t improve and surpass state minimum expectations. The TAKS test is part of Bush’s NCLB and spearheaded the notion that testing is the way to improve teaching. Misaligned thinking that if a test is made harder a teacher will teach better and ultimately improved student performance will automatically occur directly as a result of the implementation of the test.

When legislators and others that are not professional educators put policies and laws into effect regarding education and testing you have the proponents for disastrous results. When a student takes 4 to 6 benchmarks every 9 weeks, practice tests in class, progress monitoring from from TAKS release tests, tutoring and testing in tutoring, and testing in regular class sessions, how are teachers able to schedule high quality lessons and activities that are rigorous, relevant and demanding that students WANT to participate? The key here is that successful teachers that have the undefined “IT!” to motivate, encourage, support and teach students as such a high quality level despite the many, many days of testing are leaving the profession in droves.

To remedy the situation, efforts should be spent on recruiting and mentoring those teachers with fantastic induction programs with resources, time to plan and collaborate, and a principal actually serve as a leader that is competent, knowledgeable and able to lead their campus to high standards with high expectations. A little bit of appreciation for these type teachers goes a long way in securing the best and brightest. When you consistently have to pick candidates from the bottom of the barrel, instruction will not increase nor will the morale and momentum of the campus overall. It is a cycle that makes or breaks a campus. Until a principals recognizes this and accepts how damaging their comments and actions are the campus will not improve. On the contrary, if the level of appreciation is evident and teachers feel it, believe in the sincerity of their principal, and the principal actually walks the walk and talks the talk then achievement levels can rise like never before. It is critical to pair competent principals with the teachers that have the ‘IT!’ factor to function, collaborate and plan as cohesive team and campus. Any disparity between these two factors and you will continue to fight an uphill battle with the possibility of having a principal threaten to kill colleagues when threatened with low student performance.

Has testing gone too far in Texas? Read the article and see if you agree. What are your takes or experiences?

“If I were President!”

While searching for educational videos at TeacherTube, I came across this video of kinder students sharing what they would do if they were the President of the United States. With 2008 being an election year, what activities centered around the presidential election are you planning for use in your classroom?

“If I were President” video

Podcasting Resources

Check out this brief example of a podcast created by a colleague of mine, Rudy Vidal at Sky Harbour! Podcasts are just one of the technology tools of web 2.0 that teachers can use to enrich instruction. Students do NOT need an iPod to listen to the podcast. Podcasts may be listened to directly from the internet or downloaded to a playing device like an iPod or mp3 player and are basically an oral recording of an online post or message.

 Don’t miss the podcast and view the resources available at “Fabulous Podcast Resources” link (to the left of this article) for more information about podcasting from one of the leading educational bloggers, Miguel Guhlin. His blog is full of information, resources and strategies for implementing many of the web 2.0 tools.