teach for the stars

one teacher's journey through the world of online education

blog adventure #1

On my initial search of blogging in education, I was initially overwhelmed at just how MANY educational blogs there were out there.  After weeding some that weren't really applicable to my current teaching assignment, it was easy to see that there was plenty to digest.  One of my favorite blogs that I found for this assignment is the home blog of the famed Will Richardson, who describes himself as "one of a handful of original education bloggers" who write about "he intersection of social online learning networks and education."  What I really like about his writing is that he is not afraid to bring up controversial topics, such as the growing opinion that school may take up less and less of a child's physical presence and time with the advent of online education.  I think I'm going to need to do more research on some of his sources, but the blog is definitely worth a look.

My other favorite blog is Confessions of a Middle School English Teacher, by an anonymous teacher who takes a frank and unabashed look at the state of education today, both the good and the bad.  I think that blogs like this are important because in this day and age of educational reform and blame, it is sometimes nice to feel connected.  It's nice to know that we are not alone.

blog adventure #2

The last few weeks have been characterized by my many and varied attempts to integrate technology in my classroom, and last week I had a brilliant idea.  I recently introduced one of my students to an amazing book series - The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer - and now that he has finally finished all three books he has spent his time in the realm of literature listless and wandering.  I finally recommended another book for him (which he is currently devouring), but it occurred to me that children really don't really have too many people they can talk to that can recommend current and engaging young adult literature.  Before our fabulous new librarian came on this year, I was the sole source of new literature for many of my students.

This got me thinking that surely the internet could provide for students, and my search led me to two great websites!

Good Reads is a website where students can browse various types of YA lit by genre, have discussions, and even create accounts that will recommend them books (if they are over the age of 13).  I vaguely remember seeing this blog in college, and it's an amazing resource!  

Another really great site is Bookalicious, where two girls post reviews about the YA lit that they read in a format that's visually interesting, although it isn't really navigable if you don't know what you're looking for.  Still, I can't wait to show these two sites to my kiddos when they start their book project in November.

blog adventure #3

As I continue on my journal of exploring the educational blogosphere, one idea kept buzzing in the back of my brain.  "How can I get my students blogging?  What would that look like in my classroom?"  My students do a journal activity once a week.  I would love to have them write more often, but since I only see them for 4.5 hours a week, dedicating 30 minutes to this already takes up a significant chunk of time.  Blogging could open up so many more avenues, and could give them a much more powerful voice.  They wouldn't just be writing to me, they would be publishing their wonderful thoughts, ideas, stories, zaniness.

While I'm not entirely sure how this would work with a classroom under the age of 13, I did stumble upon this awesome resource from TweenTeacher blogger Heather Wolpert-Gawron on how to blog in the middle school classroom!  This will definitely be something that I look at for the spring semester, especially with the new laptop cart being housed in my room...

blog adventure #4

While looking for different blogs over the course of this assignment has led me to tons of fantastic places (seriously, I have an entire folder now dedicated solely to educational blogs), by far the most useful blog that I've encountered so far is Connie Malamed's The eLearning Coach.  For someone trying to integrate technology and online learning into their curriculum in a meaningful and engaging way, this website is AMAZING.  It has a crash course for those not acclimated to the online learning environment (complete with a glossary of terms that I have only recently become familiar with), ton of advice on both specific activities and overarching educational philosophies and online pedagogy, and even it's own list of resources.  I can tell that this will be an amazing tool to use when it comes time to design my own online classroom.  Definitely my new favorite.