What Would You Say About Blogging?

Image of WorldJolene Anzalone has been asked to give a 20 minute overview on blogging to 100 Principals and School Technology Strategists. She sent me a tweet to ask if I had any tips or advice.

Since many of us face similar situations I thought it would be better if we all provided our advice. Better still we could use this post to demonstrates how blogs connect us to a global audience where we can engage in conversations that lead to more ideas and greater innovation than each of us working individually.

Can you please help out by telling us:

  1. What are the main aspects of blogging that you would emphasize/highlight in a 20 minute overview of blogging?
  2. What examples of blogging would you show and why?
  3. What other tips or advice would you give?
  4. What country are you from?

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31 thoughts on “What Would You Say About Blogging?

  1. First I’m from Canada:

    There are some chief administrators who have blogs. Include them in your examples since this is an address to principals.

    See if you can find some examples of principals who blog. Peers learn best from peers. The more they do it the better they will understand how teachers can use them in teaching both among themselves and with their children.

    I got into it purely by accident. I wanted an organization to start up a traditional magazine on education in a niche market. I couldn’t get it off the ground. So I went to a webdesigner and asked how I could set up a site as cheaply as possible. He built one on WordPress and the blog was born. That was in Sept. 2006. I wanted to prove the market was out there.

    Spend a minute or two on the impact of being able to track visits and # of times an article is read and where the visitors are from. The number of comments are reinforcing but when no comments appear the reinforcement provided by increasing numbers is highly motivating. It is instant feedback. The effect of a surge or a statistically visible link is like a wow moment.

    In some senses it is like performing only the audience is invisible.

    Another advantage is you make contacts all over the world. Serious contacts. Last month I spent 4 days in London and I got together with three leaders in the field I blog in, 2 from Great Britain and one from South Africa.

    My imagination just runs away with me thinking about how I might use this tool and social networking tools in a classroom but alas I left the classroom in 1977. Yes I am that old.

    Anyway, hope that helps and thanks for all the ideas. There is a post in it.

    Oh and my site is http://www.tomorrowstrust.ca and check out the websites of the woman who does the cartoon strip. She has a class one too.

  2. hey im am a new here and i was just looking at all the blogs here and they were pretty cool and i almost forgot why when you are on your profile it says you have no credits click here to purchess more? can someone please write back about the answer? thanks to you all!

  3. @mppsliblog Excellent points about increasing motivation to read books and write about what they’ve read.

    @Ken Allen I’m always amazed how it sparks ideas that I hadn’t thought of and takes my learning places I wouldn’t have considered.

    @Janzalone Excellente news about your presentation. Glad it went really well and especially the news that you were approached about creating a collaborative blog for the region. Thanks for sharing how you tackled the presentation.

  4. Thanks for all of the great advice. The presentation ended up going so well, that a representative from one of the regions in our district approached me about helping them create a collaborative blog for the region (covers about 80 schools). I have also been approached about training staff at other schools. Pretty exciting.

    What I ended up doing was:
    *giving a little background on blogging
    *giving an overview of how our school tackled blogging
    *explained some of the amazing results we have seen on our campus
    *Showed off the blogs created on our campus making sure to include various content areas and grade levels
    *talked about how the blogs have:
    1. extended the school day by getting kids to continue discussions and reflections after school is out
    2. increased parent communication by bringing the parent “into the classroom”
    3. allow students to become producers of informaiton online instead of just consumers

    The presentation was well received….so, thanks again for the great advice!!

  5. Kia ora Sue

    The main points (for me) about blogging are:

    1 a means of sharing thoughts and ideas with like-minded people

    2 a means of getting new ideas – out of left field if you like – realated to what your own ideas are all about

    3 reflection and feedback – the feedback is both from (external) readers and from within (self reflection) – both very powerful and very useful

    4 provides links to new avenues of discussion – new people – new ideas

    5 provides possible avenues for further exploration and for possible assistance when needed.

    Ka kite
    from Middle-earth

  6. I’d focus on the implications for student engagement. Yesterday I went to a SLAV network meeting where they showcased Year 9 students blogging about the books they were reading, and it has made a huge difference to the motivation (a) to read and (b) to write about the reading.
    We’re finding the same thing here in primary school too.
    Lisa Hill, Mossgiel Park PS

  7. @Martin Pluss I like the idea of setting up a folder with blogs for them to read. Question though would be how many blogs?

    @Dogtrax What are the processes that you follow to let both adminstrators and parents know?

    @John P Thanks for sharing the link to your wiki. It’s excellent and great resource for educators who are new to blogging.

    @Mike Curtin Very valid point about the vanity aspect. Hadn’t even considered the need of addressing it. But is important as most people do have a bad mental picture of what blogging is about.

    @Bryan Okay I may have had a minor rant on twitter about linking (*chuckling* did I mention linking my name to my personal blog http://aquaculturepda.edublogs.org/ makes that person my bestest friend 🙂 ).

    Yes I would showcase examples of student/classroom blogs where you can clearly see good conversations happening in the comments and posts.

    @Bill Genereux I was also very slow to adopt blogging. It was approx. 12 months between being shown a blog and blogging. Reason why was because I didn’t understand why any one would ever want blog or read blogs. Just didn’t get them. Thankfully now I do.

    Like you once I started blogging and commenting I realised how important blogging is for reflection.

    @Dai Barnes Great points. I like the idea of your point No.2. Giving the personal touch of showing a blog post that made a difference and explaining why it had that impact.

    @Joe Wilson I must try blogging when I’ve been drinking that could be fun 🙂 (shame I don’t drink). I’m with you with “closed off area” — they are free to access the entire Internet from home and increasing their skills within closed gardens means they have increased skills but haven’t necessarily learnt about online safety.

    @Skribe Great tips of advice. Totally agree that blogging is about building communities shame not all bloggers look at it that way.

    @Kayla Glad you like my blog.

    @Michelle Baldwin Your post is excellent and I hope Joelene uses it with John Pearce’s wiki as a resource in her presentation. The global connection aspect is so important; the students in the student blogging competition have really enjoyed that aspect.

    @bgilgoff I’m like you. Totally amazed by the conversations, people I’ve met and places I’ve gone as a result of blogging and commenting.

    @Teachingsagittarian Excellent advice and so great to see how well your class blog is going in Bangkok. That is so cool Alan Levine talking to your class via Skype from Iceland.

  8. 1. Blog yourself. If you’re going to get others to do it, do it yourself too. Post regularly – you want your audience to keep coming back.

    2. Look at blogrolls – there’s a wealth of really great, simple yet effective classroom blogs, individual student blogs, administrator blogs out there. Talk about your favourites – you must read them for a reason – share that passion.

    3. Hyperlink, hyperlink, hyperlink and respond to comments

    4. Bangkok, Thailand

  9. My comment is really just to echo Mike Curtin’s comment above. I think he hit it on the head for me. I started blogging for my own learning and reflection. For me, it was better than a private notebook because the idea that it wasn’t actually private forced me to be succinct and articulate. Once I started posting somewhat regularly, I started being curious about what others were writing. As I started reading other blogs, I worked up the nerve to comment. And presto, I started to be a part of an amazingly thoughtful, creative, well informed network of people. I’m fascinated by the conversations it has started, people I’ve “met”, and places I’ve gone.

  10. I just posted an entry today about blogging in the classroom- http://avenue4learning.com/2008/11/18/classroom-blogging-with-a-purpose/

    In my search for good examples, I’ve found a lot of educators who use their blogs for their own reflection or communication with students and parents (which is a good thing!); however, I am really encouraged when I see educators who have students doing the blogging, too! Students need to use tools for reflection just as much as their teachers.

    In addition to what everyone else has already added, the most important thing I would tell administrators and teachers about blogging is that students need global connections, too! With proper guidelines and structure, students can nurture their critical thinking skills and sense of connectedness to others around the world through blogging.

  11. You have a great blog. I think that linking is very important but make sure you are posting relevant comments as to what there blog is about, and then link that way. Posts I think they are very important and categories as well as tags and you will do great. It looks to me like your doing a fine job especially if this is something that you just started.

  12. Tips:

    a. Have something to say. It doesn’t matter what it is: stuff that irks you, recipe of the day, photos of the kids, videos of the neighbours dangerous adventures in bondage. You can even mix-and-match, but just have something to say.

    b. Keep saying it. Post regularly.

    c. Don’t worry about your audience. It will find you. Blogging is about building communities. Monetise at your own risk.

    d. Enjoy it. If you don’t, then what’s the point? So have fun.

    I would of course show all my blogs as example because they are deeply insightful while being outrageously witty and entertaining. I also need the hits.

    Location: Notfarfromthefishtankia

  13. Fun stuff never comes in memos, formal communications and you never have quite enough time in meetings or presentations to share nuggets of learning or through crowd sourcing find solutions to the challenges your education system is facing .. and it is a global thing.

    It is harder to think on the reasons why you should not blog.
    1.Don’t do it with a glass of malt in your hand.

    In Scotland we do it as a community

    Helps us all keep in touch with reality ( voice of national exam board)

    My favorite UK Blogs

    and please teach your community to be safe on line – get them to swim in the big internet as soon as you can – not some closed off area – they will be doing it at home in any event – this is a UK hangup at moment.


    Curriculum will be global in next 10 years – it already is for most of your learners..

  14. 1&3 – good blogs should be:

    have a common purpose to make them relevant to follow
    get to the point quickly
    lead somewhere else via links and introductions to others
    encourage comment and collaboration
    regular updates (once a month is OK)

    2 – i would show an example of where a blog has done the above things, helped me to solve a problem or shown me something new. or, indeed, where writing a blog helps the author structure their thinking and work.

    4 – London UK

  15. I agree with Mike Curtin on both points. I was slow to adopt blogging because I held the perception that it was a vain thing to do and bloggers must think a lot of themselves if they think others would want to read what they have to say.

    I woke up when I attended SXSW last spring and saw its importance in the global conversation which I was missing out on. In fact, I was an early blogger, before it had that name, because I frequently wrote & posted my thoughts on a personal web page as I was learning about HTML pages.

    I now feel that blogging is a very nice tool for personal reflection, allowing me to go back and review things I was thinking about earlier in the year. When I get a good idea for a project or a lesson plan, I can put it on the blog where it will remain indefinitely. The best part is that others can benefit as well.

    Once I decided that having a huge following wasn’t one of my goals as a blogger, the whole concept made a lot more sense to me.

    I am exploring the use of blogging as an instructional tool in classes I teach. It makes a lot of sense to me for students using this tool as well to gain the aforementioned benefits.

    An example of a non-education blog that I enjoy reading is http://sethgodin.typepad.com/. I’m just a beginner, but my own blog is http://billgx.edublogs.org and I’m in the USA.

  16. 1. Linking is very important. Especially if you don’t want to make your sources hate you!
    2. I’d show some good examples of classroom blogs that have students engaged in commenting/blogging
    I’m from Searcy, AR, USA

  17. I think any conversation about blogging has to start with a direct attack on the popular perception of blogging as an act of vanity: Blogging is not about pedants on soapboxes but about conversations. It’s as much about reading blogs as it is about writing one. You really can’t get the full effect without doing both.

    Also, an oft-overlooked benefit of blogging is personal reflection. Especially when you’re getting started and no one else is reading your blog, you can take solace in the fact that each time you sit down to write, you are reflecting on your practice and growing in your craft, simply by thinking about it and putting those thoughts into words.

  18. Yo Sue and Jolene,

    I have a wiki that I will be using as a basis for a presentation to principals that goes a little further than blogs but which you are free to use in whichever way you like. The URL is http://web2forprins.pbwiki.com/. Across the blogs I have cited, I tried to exemplify that they can be used to disseminate information in a variety of ways including print, audio, video; be used as an aggregator for other publications; contain protected material; act a showcase for the school; provide support documentation; reflect on practice; serve as a stimulus to discussion and curriculum development and renewal; provide an outlet for humour.

  19. My advice:

    Start small – maybe just a book club or an extension activity for a contained group of students — this will allow you to troubleshoot and get comfortable with blogging

    Blog Yourself — become a teacher blogger and think about the tools you discover and how you can integrate them into your curriculum — and not only take from other bloggers, but give back, too.

    Give Your Administrators a Heads-Up — (and parents, too) — let them know what you are doing and why. Lay out a rationale for blogging with kids.

    Good luck

  20. 1a. Start with the personal blog yourself to understand it and work towards what works in the professional setting.
    1b Show how it can be linked into teaching and learning such as a Wide Reading Blog for each class with staff liaising between Information Services (Library) and English Department. An example of collaborative learning students and staff.
    1c. Distinguish between blogging about – ie: being a blogger and about blogging – just using information in blogs.

    2. Get a Google Reader account and monitor blogs – give some educational bloggers for the Principals to follow.

    3a. Show how blogging can happen behind the firewall (Edublogs, Sharepoint, Moodle…) so privacy …concerns are reduced.
    3b .If cannot go behind fire wall – first names no surnames, no pictures nor references to schools.

    4. Sydney Australia

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