3: How are others using blogs?

Blogging Begins with Reading
Like other Web 2.0 technologies, blogging connects people and ideas. There are blogs addressing pretty much every topic imaginable: personal interests and family, education, politics, news, entertainment, arts, culture, sports, hobbies, social causes, technology, business, self-help, etc... Technorati's "State of the Live Web" for April 2007 reported tracking over 70 million weblogs and counting. If you can think of it, someone's most certainly blogging about it.

Blogging is more than writing. Blogging is reading, reflecting, questioning, researching, synthesizing, linking, conversing, teaching, sharing and expressing ideas. Blogging is about writing, but blogging begins with reading.

Discovery Exercise: Voices in the Blogosphere
Read at least five of the blog posts below. They are intended to give you just a tiny sampling of a few voices and blogging styles of teachers and students in the "edublogosphere," which is the category encompassing education-related bloggers and blogs. Take some time to read the comments as well, as commenting is one of the most significant aspects of blogging. In a future Thing, you will set up an RSS reader and subscribe to a few blogs that spark your interest.

As you read, consider the following questions (feel free to adapt and expand on any of these or add your own):
  • What do you notice about the genre of blog writing in general?
  • How is blog reading different from other types of reading? How is it similar?
  • How is blog writing different from other types of writing? How is it similar?
  • How does commenting contribute to the writing and meaning-making?
  • How can blogging facilitate learning?

    Sample Blog Posts

    1. Bud the Teacher: What’s “Print?”
      This high school teacher shares a bit about teaching, politics, and pop culture. Should we require students to have "print resources" when they do research? This teacher thinks not in this post.
    2. Mrs. Edmison's Class: Questions for One of Our Favorite Authors: Grace Lin
      Third grade students receive a special blog comment from a beloved author answering their questions about writing.
    3. Twenty-Five Days to Make a Difference (Laura Stockman): It Doesn't Matter if You're 6 or 26 or 106
      On December 1, 2007, ten-year-old Laura Stockman decided to honor her grandfather's memory by helping to make a difference in the world every day for twenty five days. She did "little things that kids can do." And she blogged about her efforts. Years later, Laura's message and blog have inspired thousands of people to make a difference every day. If you are not convinced that blogs and other social media have the potential to change the world (and to empower our students), I hope you will take time to explore Laura's site.
    4. Mark’s Edtech Blog: Is this SSR 2.0?
      A third grade teacher describes a "new" kind of Sustained Silent Reading.
    5. Betchablog (Chris Betcher): The Myth of the Digital Native
      Teachers often make the assumption that our students, who have "grown up digital" are technologically fluent. It's not necessarily true.
    6. dy/dan (Mr. Meyer): Why I Don’t Assign Homework
      There are 240 comments and trackbacks (comment showing when another person has linked to this post in their own blog) on this post as of January 17, 2010. (You don't have to read them all!) This says something about the provocative nature of the post!
    7. SP-817 Math Blog: Boeun's Scribe for December 4th
      This is an example of a "
      Scribe Post," as "invented" by calculus teacher Darren Kuropatwa, in which a student (8th grader in this case) reviews the classroom learning for the day or week. The teacher sets guidelines for the quality of work and students who exceed the requirements have an opportunity to be nominated into the "Scribe Hall of Fame."
    8. CoolCatTeacher (Vicki Davis): Spies Like Us
      Vicki Davis talks about the realities of teaching in a society where every cell phone is a recording device. Vicki Davis is someone you want to know about!
    9. Creating Lifelong Learners (Mathew Needleman): Energize Your Classroom: How Jim Cramer Made Me a Better Teacher...>> Teachers can make challenging concepts "engaging and comprehensible" to students by applying techniques gleaned from CNBC's "Mad Money," with wacky, high-energy host Jim Cramer.
    10. Extreme Biology: 09.09.09 Homework: Observations and Inferences
      Classroom blog of a high school biology teacher in an Atlanta-area private school. Students post about different topics related to the study of biology. This was her beginning of the year post.
    11. EduBlog Insights (Anne Davis): A Rationale for Educational Blogging
      Anne Davis, an edublogging pioneer from Georgia State University, has been blogging with elementary school students since 2002. In this post, she enumerates her reasons for blogging with students.
    12. Learning is Change (Ben Wilkoff): The Ripe Environment
      An proposal for getting 'beyond the tools' to create an environment for real, collaborative teaching and learning. Ten strategies are featured.
    13. Students 2.0: Teaching Brevity
      The author of this post is a fourteen-year-old. The
      Students2oh blog is collaboratively written by a group of outspoken, articulate high schoolers from across the U.S. and beyond.
    14. Bit by Bit (Bob Sprankle): The Time is Now
      In an engaging metaphor about television "rabbit ears," Sprankle makes a case for rethinking "analog" teaching practices and moving into the digitally-driven 21st century.
    15. NeverEnding Search: PowerPoint Reform - A First Chapter
      High school librarian Joyce Valenza shares highlights from her presentation for senior English classes on how to stop making miserable PowerPoint presentations. Good points and good resources.
    16. Patrick's Update: 5th Grade
      This post was written by an at-risk fifth grader who struggled with writing and school success in general. Anne Davis shares it as an example of the importance of comments in blogging.
    17. A Really Different Place (Carleigh): One Family's Story of Survival
      A sixth grader who blogs as part of a classroom community of writers shares a story about the recent plane crash on the Hudson River.
    18. Weblogg-ed (Will Richardson): What Did You Create Today?
      Prolific edublogger Will Richardson shares some questions he hopes his children might be able to answer about their school experiences.
    19. Andy Carvin / Learning NOW: An Open Letter About Cyberbullying
      Andy Carvin responds to a nerve-striking "humor" article in Wired Magazine.
    20. Pair-a-Dimes (David Truss): Students, Information and Schools
      A brief but provocative post that asks us to think about how information access has changed for our students. Read it -- the image is amusing.
    21. A Simple Desultory Dangling Conversation (Skydaddy): The Upside Down Pop Quiz>>
      A teacher rethinks and reworks the traditional "pop quiz" to provide an incentive for students to really learn what he wants them to learn.
    22. Wandering Ink: How To Prevent Another Leonardo da Vinci
      An argument about the ways in which the current education system and adolescent culture discourage creative thought. (If this interests you, you may want to view Sir Ken Robinson's
      TED Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity?)
    23. Duck with a Blog: Second graders Write About Our Missing Duck
      Award-winning elementary blog about an unexpected guest. Be sure to
      click the duck to read the students' stories.

        Create a blog post in response to the exploratory reading and questions listed above. Feel free to reflect on anything that struck you about the posts themselves or the genre of blogging in general. Be sure to include a link to any post(s) you refer to and include "Thing 3" in your post title.

        NOTE: When linking to a blog post, you need to use the post's Permalink. Because blogs are frequently updated, as posts "get older" they are pushed off the "front page" into the archives. However, each post has a unique URL (web address), called a Permalink, typically containing the post title and date, or a unique post number.


          The sample blog posts presented in this Thing are all permalinks; so, you can simply copy the URL from your browser's address bar when using one in your post.

          HELP Videos:
          • How to locate a blog post Permalink (Important!) (2:20)
            The Permalink is the direct link to a specific blog post. It will include the date and title of the post, or a post number.
            You must use the Permalink when linking to a blog post -- you can't just link to the main address of a blog.
          • Adding links from other blogs (3:21)
            A more thorough explanation of the Permalink concept

          IMPORTANT Notes About Making Links CLICKABLE!
          • Sometimes when you paste a URL into a post, it doesn't create a hyperlink. It depends on the version of the Blogger editor you are using.
          • If you have the default "Older Editor", you need to highlight some text and then use the button with the globe and chain link to insert a clickable hyperlink.
          • If you have the "Updated Editor" (You can select this by going to Settings-->Basic), you can press the space bar after you paste the link if using Internet Explorer. If you want to embed the link into the post, you need to use the "Link" button in the Blogger toolbar. Highlight you text first, click the "Link" button, and paste in the URL. 

          Optional Extension

          Checkout Technorati
          Technorati is the leading blog search engine.  You can use Technorati to search for blogs or blog posts.  Take a look at what the blogosphere has to offer you beyond education blogs. 

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