Category Archives: Thoughts

Why Blogging is Important for Educators – A Personal Perspective

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I have the privilege of serving as a Specialist in Technology, Education, and Society Altering Environments, an undergraduate education course at Bryn Mawr College (my alma mater!) this semester. I will be providing support to the class around blogging and the WordPress platform so I thought what better way to dive in than to post something on my own WordPress blog?

Preparing to work with the class led me to reflect on some of my own motivations to blog and why I think blogging is important not only for educators but for students too. I published my first post almost four years ago, just as I was starting out as an Education and Technology Consultant. As an educator, I was excited to launch a digital space that would be open 24/7 where I could capture ideas and share reflections. I also knew that I needed a more visible and formal online presence to share with potential consulting clients so they could get to know me and what I could offer. Since then, I have started a second website (also built on WordPress but run by Edublogs) where I publish multiple blogs (Tech Tips, Tech Projects, Maker Club Updates) to share with different audiences. So over time, my reasons to blog have grown and changed a bit but here are the main ones that motivate me. 

My Reasons to Blog

Increase Visibility

  • This was one of the first, driving factors that pushed me to take the plunge and post something publicly. I wanted to have a public website that I could use to market my skills, background, and experience and part of how I wanted to do that was through blogging. I knew that if I had a digital space that I made public, I could link it to all of my social media accounts and send out updates as I blogged about issues and ideas that were important or intriguing to me. Then, as I published posts, I could hopefully gain some subscribers and increase my own SEO.  

It’s my medium

  • Another reason I chose blogging is because it is a good medium for me personally. I’m a writer and I have found that sharing my thoughts, reflections, and resources through text is usually the best way for me to reach other people compared to other mediums (e.g., artwork or public speaking). Therefore, blogging and blog platforms became my tool of choice. If I did happen to be an artist, I probably would have chosen Instagram or if I were a speaker, maybe Soundcloud so I could podcast. Finding what works best for you and then which mediums best represent that type of content is very important. One reason I chose Tumblr to share about my work with Google Glass was because I found it to be more visual and I knew I’d primarily be sharing photos and videos, but I also wanted to be able to write and add links, which is much harder with a platform like Instagram.

Space for Reflection

  • My absolute favorite reason to blog is because it provides a medium and a shared space where I can reflect on my professional work and the things I am learning. Through writing and reflecting, I am better able to synthesize ideas and have those “ah-ha” moments that lead to an exciting new project in my classroom, a model for professional development at my school, or a way to use a new tool I have just discovered. Blogging is also powerful because it allows my reflections to be created on a public, digital canvas where I can embed multimedia to connect people, places, ideas, and tools through integrating drawings, photos, videos, tweets, and other links.

Building Connections Through Sharing

  • This is probably my second favorite reason to blog and I think one of the coolest things about the tools and tech we have access to today. Blogging allows me to share what I have learned at a conference or from trying a new ed tech tool and through that sharing I can build connections with other educators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and professionals. Blogging facilitates relationship-building, many times with people who I might never meet and that live across the globe. Through these connections, I am able to broaden my own PLN and open doors for new collaborations, classroom projects, and friendships.  

Creating Digital Documentation

  • One of the great things about blogging as a professional is that you are automatically creating digital documentation of your work and learning. Capturing this over time can be instrumental in helping show current and future employers the projects that you have worked on, things you have learned attending conferences and PD workshops, and your own personal voice in the field. I have really enjoyed documenting my professional growth here on this blog and I find it valuable to go back and look through past posts a few times a year to reflect on my journey. Documenting my work has been especially valuable on my school blog because it allows me to share snapshots of students’ learning with families and other educators and see where to go next with a unit or idea while also examining what we have done before.

Modeling

  • The final reason that I blog is to model what blogging can look like and demonstrate my investment (time, energy, digital space, and even money) in the practice for colleagues and others who I might encourage to blog. I believe that “if you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk” and so if I want to support blogging as an important professional practice, I have to be a blogger myself. I believe blogging is also a great practice for students because it can be instrumental in helping them to develop a positive digital identity (and practice good digital citizenship). I blog in part so that I can talk to my students about blogging and understand the experience in hopes of better connecting with them as young bloggers.

There is a seemingly endless array of articles, and yes, blog posts, talking about the value of blogging and why educators should blog (see the short list below for inspiration). Although each article takes a different perspective on the topic, there are definitely some themes that come up again and again and you’ll notice many of them overlap with my own.

Collective Educators’ Reasons to Blog

Educators Blog to …

  1. Reflect
  2. Share resources and classroom successes/student work
  3. Express a personal and/or professional point of view
  4. Connect with and help others locally and globally
  5. Engage their creativity
  6. Stay relevant and keep growing
  7. Network professionally

So what’s the value in blogging? Aside from all of the benefits and experiences listed above, blogging helps create a vital community. It’s a community that gives everyone involved a chance to grow together, with and from one another, and to become better educators – both teachers and learners. Blogging creates the foundation for global relationships and breaking down barriers to knowledge and understanding across geographic, political, philosophical and many other lines.

Now imagine if you never knew anything about blogging … if you could never reflect in a shared space, express your voice, build meaningful global relationships, or market yourself as a professional. What if none of that (e.g., knowledge, internet, freedom) was accessible to you?

Share your reactions in the comments and let me know, do you think blogging is valuable for educators?


Resources

Posts about Blogging

Getting Started with a Blog

A Few of my Favorite Education Blog Hubs

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New Goals for a New School Year!

The start of school has been extremely busy this year! Before we get too far into September, I wanted to record some of my goals for the 2013-2014 school year.

After finally finishing my room setup, I realized that I actually have visual representations of all six of my goals displayed around my room. The first, on-going goal I have is to continue creating and facilitating global learning opportunities for my students.

global ed

Last year, I was able to set up a few different Skype exchanges with New Zealand, Alaska, and Minnesota as well as some collaborations through projects around social studies and science explorations. I hope to expand those projects this year and introduce more tools to students that they can use for global collaboration. I really want to help establish the idea that technology can be used as a tool for meaningful learning and exchange across the globe.

Related to that goal, I hope to use my Google Glass (won via the #IfIHadGlass competition) to connect my students with other students around the world. I recently launched The Global Google Glass Project, inviting teachers to sign their classes up to participate in a variety of projects that would take advantage of the first-person perspective of Glass. Additionally, I want to push myself to use Glass consistently throughout the year as a tool for documentation to capture moments of student learning and discovery each day. You can check out more of my exploration with Glass on my Tumblr.

google glass bulletin board

Of course, if I’m asking my students to use the Internet to connect and collaborate with others around the world, I need to be talking with them about digital citizenship. I used parts of the Commonsense Media curriculum last year but this year I want to spend a lot more time discussing topics like: staying safe online, how to search the web effectively, and understanding the Creative Commons. To help with this, I’ll be using the Commonsense Media elementary school digital citizenship poster, who we have named Danielle the Digital Citizen, to personify the qualities of a good digital citizen and make these ideas more relatable for my young students.

digital citizenship bulletin board

In addition to being digital citizens, I’m hoping my students will become Makers, who Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager define as “confident, competent, curious citizens in a new world of possibility.” I’m starting an afterschool Maker Club for my Kindergarten – 2nd Grade students to provide them with more opportunities to be exposed to tools, projects, and ideas that encourage creating, tinkering, and making. I’m excited to have this time to introduce materials like Makedo and Little Bits and also let students guide me in designing new projects and researching new tools. Outside of the club, when possible, I hope to also integrate making into the classroom when it connects to the curriculum or the technology projects we’re engaged in this year.

Maker Bulletin Board

I’m also striving to increase my knowledge of iPad deployment, integration, management, and training this year, as we introduce twelve iPads in our Pre-K class and one in each of our kindergarten classes. I had a few iPads to share last year across all of the classes I work with but I think having them in these classes full-time will create a different experience. I want to continue exploring quality app review sites and rubrics and learning more about how to adapt the SAMR model as a framework for iPad integration in early childhood. My goal is to help the iPads become a seamless addition to each classroom as a tool for creation, collaboration, and communicating new ideas or reflecting on things that were just learned.

Maker Bulletin Board

Finally, although this is probably a guaranteed outcome if I work towards the five goals above, I want to make professional growth an ongoing goal this year. Last year I participated in a few MOOCs for the first time and attended or presented at some new conferences. I want to make sure that in all of the busyness of the school year and my new projects, that I still carve out time to develop professionally and stay current with new tools and approaches to tech integration.

I think one of the most valuable things you can do as an educator is participate in groups or activities that inspire and push you to grow and continue learning and doing/making. With that in mind, I hope to attend at least one new conference this year, submit some presentation proposals, read at least one new book in my field, and participate in some online communities and/or MOOCs around my goals.

I think that’s enough for one school year! Now, it’s time to get busy with the actual implementation piece.

inspiration to grow

What are your goals for this school year?

Do you have any tips or resources to help me meet mine?