I agree that blogs can be an excellent source of professional development. As a social studies teacher I am pretty lucky that generally the internet is a playground of content for us. However, the downside to so much online content is that it can be overwhelming to sort through it all. One way to do this is to subscribe to an educational blog and let them do some of the sorting. For example I have recently started following World History Teachers Blog. This blog is a combined effort from high school history teachers to share online content and technology. I have fallen in love with this blog and have found many new ideas including you tube videos by John Green(one of my favorite authors) that summarize most of the units I teach in Ancient History, http://worldhistoryeducatorsblog.blogspot.com/2012/02/amusing-look-at-indus-river-valley.html. These videos have been a great way to preview and review the units I teach, and John Green is so funny that the kids love it. Nothing is better than students learning despite their best efforts not to. Besides giving specific content, it also includes links to other sites that have content that would be helpful to educators, For example one post discusses the website WatchKnowLearn.org. The post, http://worldhistoryeducatorsblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/educational-video-search-engine.html includes some background on the site, how the link was found, and even gives a link to a specific video list. I think the fact that I just got lost on this blog for the past hour shows the wealth of information available on the blog.
Another Educational Blog, The Dream Teacher, is written by North Carolina’s teacher of the Year )08-09. It seems to mainly be an inspirational musing blogs. One, that I think on some days I could definitely use. Two blogs had me in tears, one was a letter to a student who ended up in correctional facility, http://thedreamteacher.blogspot.com/2012/01/letter-to-youth-correctional-facility.html and one where she describe missing the students now that she is no longer in her own classroom, http://thedreamteacher.blogspot.com/2012/01/identity-crisis.html. Both of these posts hit on the reason why I and many of us became teachers in the first place. In a time where I am feeling undervalued and disrespected, a little reminding can go a long way in rejuvenating me to get back in there everyday and do what is best for my students. See, even I am talking like a cheerleader now!
Another blog I found interesting was Free Technology for Teachers. At first this site seemed just another site filled with more ads than content but as I continued looking through posts I found some great ideas. The site has won awards for best resource sharing site by Edublog and the author is a teacher and also writes for School Library Journal’s “Cool Tools” column. First, when I was reading the “about” section of the blog I came across a nifty tool called VisualCV. It seems to basically be an online resume. The author of the blog’s is located here http://www.visualcv.com/richardmbyrne. The blog is also organized into pages that help you to find more specifically what you are looking for. I found this resource for Facebook Historical, http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2010/08/historical-facebook-facebook-for-dead.html. It seems to be taking the attitude of “if you can’t beat them, join them” when it comes to Facebook. This would be a great review project. I also like the fact that after every post, the author has a comment about how to use the resource in the classroom. This would especially be helpful for technology ideas because sometimes tools are cool but how you would actually use them can be mystifying. The combination of lesson ideas, links to websites, and free downloads make this a “target rich environment” (Maverick, Top Gun – for all of you non Top Gun fans).
This last blog I found interesting since I have recently started teaching the Highly Abled Learners at our school. Unwrapping the Gifted Child is written by a gifted education teacher that teaches k-12. She offers her thoughts on the gifted child and updates on what is new in the world of gifted education. I was initially intrigued by her post about shirts she has found that demonstrate her beliefs in gifted education. Some of the shirts and quotes were quite amusing and thought-provoking, http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/unwrapping_the_gifted/2012/02/get_your_geek_on.html. She does not seem to post as often and her posts are pretty long, but offer resources as well as musing. She has a post to webinars(http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/unwrapping_the_gifted/2012/01/its_webinar_time_again.html. Again, though one problem is that it is a bit overwhelming, with a lot of suggestions all in one post. Although, this Blog would be worth subscribing too. Its infrequency would not make a must for someone.
Incorporating Education Blogs in the Classroom. When utilizing Education blogs I think that by using the resources you found on the blogs would be the first step to incorporating them into the classroom. I would also advertize to my students that I got the idea from a blog. If they hear it often enough they might start to realize that there is something useful to the Internet besides games.
Spreading the Word. I would share blogs by sending teachers links from blogs that might be helpful to them. This is where I have found some of the blogs I have followed. I could also send out a weekly blog highlight email but to be honest teachers get so much email it would probably be deleted/unread by most. I think the most effective way would be to just make sure the blog gets credit for ideas you have and resources you use and recommend. I think eventually people would start checking them out just from hearing about them. From there, it isn’t long before teachers begin to realize that they also have some great ideas to share. A simple professional development session would be necessary to show them how easy it is to blog and voila you would have a school of bloggers. Okay well maybe it won’t be that easy but every quality new blog is a step in the right direction
As Professional Development. In today’s world of budget cuts and teacher time being a high commodity, a blog offers a great way to share staff development. Teachers can access them at their own time, and it can be multimedia based so it is engaging and differentiated. For example, if I already know how to set up a blog, I could visit the post on improving your blog instead. Blogs are also is available for teachers to go back and visit over and over again. It is social through the commenting that is available, as well. Online Professional Development may be the answer school systems are looking for to keep teachers up-to-date in an ever-changing technological world
Byrne, R. (2012, March 21). Free Technology for Teachers. Free Technology for Teachers. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://www.freetech4teachers.com/
Fisher, T. (2012, March 7). Unwrapping the Gifted Child. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/unwrapping_the_gifted/
Franz, F., & Coe, G. (2012, March 17). World History Teachers Blog. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://worldhistoryeducatorsblog.blogspot.com
Rigsbee, C. (2012, February 26). The Dream Teacher. The Dream Teacher. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://thedreamteacher.blogspot.com