The Power of Blogging

A great discussion with the Humanities department really got me thinking about why blogging (along with other web 2.0 tools) is so powerful for our students, so I thought I’d share some of the many resources I’ve collected over the years here.

Although the conversation is currently about the tool (blogs), I think the bigger issues to address are:

  • How do we believe students learn?
  • What role does engagement, motivation and real-world application play in student learning?
  • What are the skills required for the 21st century?
  • How do we, as a school, ensure that our students are experiencing and understanding learning in a 21st century environment?

What this means is that we’re really discussing our beliefs about teaching and learning, and how technology can enhance that experience.

OK, back to the resources:

Here are a few of my favorite books. Please feel free to stop by EdTech any time and pick them up! I would highly recommend:

  • Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson (also available in the Main Library)
  • Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century by David Warlick
  • Reinventing Project Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss

And, some that are not “official” favorites, but also address the question of new literacies in the classroom and research about technology and it’s impact on student learning:

  • How Teachers Learn Technology Best by Jamie McKenzie
  • Raw Materials for the Mind: A Teacher’s Guide to Digital Literacy by David Warlick
  • Teaching With Technology: Creating Student-Centered Classrooms by Judith Haymore Sandholts, Cathy Ringstaff and David C. Dwyer
  • Learning to Solve Problems with Technology: A Constructivist Perspective by David Jonassen and Jane Howland
  • Handbook of Research on New Literacies edited by Julie Coiro, Michele Knobel, Colin Lankshear, Donald J. Leu

And a few favorites about how technology is changing society (with obvious impacts on education):

  • The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
  • Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirkey
  • The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
  • Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger
  • A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink

And a few favorite articles (most are direct .pdf downloads):

More online resources:

Two active researchers, specifically working on blogging in education are Anne Davis (in Georgia) and Konrad Glogowski (in Canada).

Other web-based articles:

A few general websites about 21st century learning which address the issues above:

And, finally, the resources I’ve bookmarked on Diigo:

Please feel free to suggest other resources – this is just to get us started.

K12 Online Conference Begins!

Please, take 25 minutes and watch Dean Shareski’s K12online pre-conference keynote, it’s fantastic!

This keynote looks at the new obligation of sharing for educators. With stories from the a variety of sources, the fact that we now have the ability to teach and share beyond our classrooms is moving from “nice to do” to “necessary to do”. See if you agree.

What is Blogging?

One of my favorite books about the power of web 2.0 tools in the classroom is Will Richardson’s Blogs Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom. It’s a quick and easy read – and very practical, written from a teacher’s perspective.

The section that had the most impact on me when I read it the first time was the section on what blogging really is. I thought I would share it here to prompt some discussion (p. 32):

  1. Posting assignments (Not blogging)
  2. Journaling, i.e. “this is what I did today.” (Not blogging)
  3. Posting links. (Not blogging)
  4. Links with descriptive annotation, i.e., “This site is about…” (Not really blogging either, but getting close depending on the depth of the description).
  5. Links with analysis that gets into the meaning of the content being linked. (A simple form of blogging).
  6. Reflective, metacognitive writing on practice without links. (Complex writing, but simple blogging, I think. Commenting would probably fall in here somewhere).
  7. Links with analysis and synthesis that articulate a deeper understanding or relationship to the cntent being linked and written with potential audience in mind. (Real blogging).
  8. Extended analysis and synthesis over a longer period of time that builds on previous posts, links, and comments. (Complex blogging).

When we’re blogging with students, it might be worthwhile thinking about how to develop their skills to Will’s “level 8.” The National Council of Teachers of English just released a informational overview describing the changing dynamics of reading and writing in our society, and how critical it is for students to learn those skills through the curriculum. Now that we have the tools here at ISB, we are ready to get started!

Richardson, Will. (2006). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. California: Corwin Press.

Fantastic and Free Online PD!

One of my absolute favorite (and free) professional development opportunities is about to begin! And the best part is that it’s entirely online so you can learn when and where it’s convenient for you. It’s the K12 Online Conference!

This is the 5th year of the conference and it just keeps getting better. There are plenty of opportunities to connect with other like-minded educators in order to build your own Personal Learning Network. Although the actual dates of the conference are during Field Studies and our Fall Break, you can watch the presentations anytime – so don’t miss it!


Why Google?

A few great resources about Google:

Get Going with Google Apps in Your School by Lisa Nielson

As many teachers know, Google Apps Education Edition is a free suite of hosted communication & collaboration applications designed for schools and universities. Here are Lisa’s top tips for getting started.

100 Ways Google Can Make You a Better Educator

From the post:

We all know that Google offers a great search program, and you might even use other apps like Gmail or Google Calendar, but have you realized what Google has to offer for educators and students? Using Sites, Google Earth, Wave, and more, you can turn your classroom into a place where you can share, collaborate, and publish on the world wide web. Read on to find out how you can put Google to work for your class.

Who Owns Your Data? by Lisa Thumann

Lisa is a Google Certified Teacher and an all-around Google Apps Guru. She put together some great resources on data ownership and privacy for Google Apps schools (like us).

Hey, Mathletes: Google Docs Adds Support for Equations from

Google announced some nifty updates to Google Docs today, focused on students as they get back to their books and into the classroom. The document collaboration tool now supports equation notation, superscript, subscript, and language translations.

And a few great Google search tips: