being a teacher, blogging, connections, journey, reflecting

Not All Teachers Have to Blog or Even Be On Twitter

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I see a lot of posts and discussion about how we wish all teachers would get on Twitter or how all teacher should start a blog, and at first, I was a believer.  I know how much I have benefitted, in fact, how much my life has changed, because of blogging and Twitter.  And yet, now I falter on the belief of blogging and tweeting for all.

Blogging for me opens up a conversation that I don’t have the time for to have face to face some times.  It opens up debates, new ideas, and inspiration that I often cannot find in my every day doings.  However, it also removes me from seeking out those opportunities to have those same discussions “live.”  That doesn’t mean everyone responds that way, but I think many of us do.  Blogging is a tool for deep reflection, even though it is a public one, it is a time for me to put myself out there and to sort through what it is I really mean.  And that doesn’t work for everyone, and why would it?  We all have different comfort levels in how we share ourselves.

So instead of syaing that all teachers should blog we should hope that all teachers reflect.  Whether it is through a blog, throguh a conversation, through a journal; the reflection is what matters.  The reaching out to others and having those courageous conversations, putting yourself and your ideals out therefor debate, that is what matters.  Not whether you blog or not.

The same goes for Twitter.  I love Twitter because I can connect with others, easily, on my time.  Yet you can connect in other ways.  Twitter is not the only way you can learn something and again here I think it is the act of connecting that makes us herald Twitter as the best PD for teachers.  It is not Twitter that does the professional development for us; it is the way we use it.

So no, I don’t think all teachers should have a blog.  I don’t think all teachers should be on Twitter.  But they should all be reflecting and connecting somehow, somewhere, with someone.

blogging, challenge, kidblog, writing

Student Blogging Challenges – A List of Ideas

One of the things that my students love the most on our KidBlog are our weekly blog challenges.  And while these challenges are in sense homework, they always have the opportunity to do them at school, and get enough time to do it without being a hassle.  Over the past two years we have had quite a lot of fun with these, so why not share for all you blogging with your students.  Feel free to borrow or change to suit your kids.

I have broken these into categories for easier reading.

All About You

  • Imagine you have been given $100 to donate to someone or something like a charity or even to start a charitable business.   The challenge is to make your money grow whether through product or some other form.  So you need to blog about what you will do with the money, how it will grow and how much you can make it grow even more.  Your money will have 3 months to grow.
  • If you could go anywhere in time once round-trip, where would you go and why?  What would you see there?  What would you do?  Would you bring anything back or try to change the past?
  • If you could go anywhere in time once round-trip, where would you go and why?  What would you see there?  What would you do?  Would you bring anything back or try to change the past? 
  • If you could eat only one meal the next year, what would it be? 
  • If you could do one good thing this Holiday season to make others happy, what would it be?
  •  Tell me about the great traditions you have in your family. 
  •  What makes you the happiest in your life and even better how do you show how thankful you are? 
  • This week I would like to challenge you to write about about a place, from the past or the present, where you would like to live or go for a holiday or vacation.

Wacky Challenges

All About School

  • Which school rule you would change, how you would change it and why?
  • How is the year going so far?  What are you excited about?  What works for you?  What doesn’t? How can we make 5th grade better?  What should I change?
  • What would you change about school so that you would love being there?
  • Tell me what was the best, the worst, the most fun, the most boring things of the trimester?  
  • So, if you could decide what we had to learn about, what would it be?  What would our goals be? How would we learn about it? And how would we pass that learning on? 
  • What does a principal do all day?  What qualities does a principal have and what do they do in the summer?
  • You are the teacher; which class would you add to school curriculum that we don’t already have?  When would the class meet, what would the students do?  What would it look like, feel like, sound like?  And what would the students produce to show their learning?

Your Thoughts on Education and School

  • What is the true purpose of education?  Why do you go to school?  Why do you learn what you have to learn?
  • Is teaching and learning the same thing or not?
  • Should education be fun?
  • Give me your thoughts on tests!  Do you think they help or hurt your learning?  What do you suggest to teachers about tests?

Academic Related and Story Writing

  • You need to write to other teachers and tell them about the Global Read Aloud.
  • I want you to tell the world about Innovation Day!
  • Tell everyone about the simulation in social studies 
  • Keep a science diary of our experiments and answer any questions people may leave in the comments.
  • Write a book review of the book you are currently reading.
  • Explain what the author study is, who you chose to study and why.
  • Finish the story, “The crash came from around the corner…”
  • Finish the sentences:  Being a good teacher means…. Being a good student means… 
  • What do you love when teachers do in their classrooms?  What do you wish I did as a teacher? If you were a teacher how would you run your classroom?

Challenges from Students:

  • If you were to go inside of a book, what book would you go inside of, and what would you do?
  • Create a blogging challenge for other students to do.
  • If you could create your own country, what would it be called, where would it be, and what language would the residents speak?

All About Blogging

  • Should we continue to blog or not, convince me!
  • So how has blogging helped you as a writer?  What do you like about blogging?  What do you not like?  What would you change?  Would you continue blogging next year if you could?
  • What are the rules for blogging, how do you stay safe?
  •  Now that you have tried it, what would you tell other kids and teachers about blogging?  What should they know before they start?  What should they be careful with?  How can they get people to comment?  Any advice for people who want to blog but don’t know how?
  • Pick one student from another blog and introduce yourself properly 
being me, blogging

Don’t Tell Me You Read My Blog

Today I was flustered.  Absolutely gobsmacked, probably would have turned bright red and almost tripped over a chair flustered.  My retiring principal was giving a building tour to a principal candidate and stopped by my room.  The candidate then told me that he reads my blog and had also seen my students’ webinar.  For some reason this stooped me in my teaching tracks.  The blogger Pernille would have had all sorts of scrupulous questions to ask about the candidate’s viewpoint of technology integration, global connections and student-centered learning.  The real Pernille didn’t know what to say other than, “Welcome, this is our room and these are my kids” and then pretty much went on her way.  Yikes.

The thing is, when I blog, I don’t really think anyone reads it, and yes I know how stupid that sounds, but perhaps if someone reads it they are really far away and I will never meet them.  It is much easier to imagine no audience or one very far away such as in Antarctica or somewhere else remote.  Somewhere where our paths will never cross.  Of course, this is stupid of me to think as I can see where people visit my blog from, but still, to meet a “reader” face to face left me believing that I am very much an introvert.  and definitely not as cool as the person who blogs here.

And yet, something I do take pride in is that I know that whatever that candidate has read on my blog, it is how I feel, it is how our classroom is, it is how I am as a teacher.  The qualities of utmost important to me on my blog are transparency, honesty, and realness.  There are things that are magical in my classroom but there are also many that are works in progress or that blow up in my face spectacularly.  There are days where we are in a groove and others where I feel like I am lecturing to a door.  Days where I feel I made a difference and days where I feel I had a negative impact on a child.  But I blog no matter what, I blog whether it makes me look good or not.  I put it out there for others to nod their heads and think they are not alone.  There is a filter but only when it serves a purpose otherwise I do really put it all out there.  

So if you ever happen to walk by my room, come on in, introduce yourself and feel me out.  Let me know you are in the neighborhood and really curious.  Let me know that my students sounded loud and engaged and you thought you would check it out.  But whatever you do, leave the blog out of it for now, don’t tell me yet so I can let my guard down, let us settle into a conversation, feel each other out and learn a little bit.  leave the blog out so I can share some of my secrets not thinking you already know them.

being me, blogging

Is Blogging Worth Our Time?

In June 2010 I started to blog, a journey I will not bore you with here.  Since then I have updated my blog, now blogs, almost on a daily basis, letting my thoughts, mistakes and achievements flow freely.  Most of it here has been education related with snippets of my personal life shining through.  The change in my life has been dramatic from the smallest things such as constantly thinking about whether I can blog about something or not, to large things like the time I have dedicated (thus losing it other places), the connections I have made, the conversations I have been engaged in and even the criticism I have faced from strangers and friends alike.  So I wonder whether it is worth it?

Is blogging and baring your soul really worth it to anyone?  Can we outweigh the negatives, the backlashes we may create in our professional lives all in the name of transparency?  Can we say the time spent blogging has been worth it when I look at my daughter and see how she seems to be growing in front of me?  The self-doubt created on whether I made my mind clear or if I just said something I shouldn’t have?  The scrutiny faced by others when we put it all out there?  Is it all worth it?

I started to blog because I needed to reflect on my journey as a changing educator, I blog now to keep myself honest, to reach others, to connect, and to perhaps change education.  But am I really doing that? Is my investment worth it?  Or are the goals too lofty? Can we really change education by blogging about it?

blogging, student blogging, Student-centered

Proud to Present – Creating Global Citizens with Meaningful Blogging

On November 12th at 3 PM EST, I am proud to be presenting for SimpleK12.  A description follows of this 30 minute learning opportunity that you don’t want to miss.

How would you like to invite the world into your classroom and expose your students’ writing to an authentic audience? Do you want your students to be global citizens who are connected with other children around the world? If so, then student blogging is for you! In this webinar we will show you how to get started with student blogging, as well as how to connect with others throughout the world. We will explore some examples of how global blogging can be used in the classroom and share some tips to make it easier.

To register for this webinar, just click on this link
being a teacher, being me, blogging

Blogging Gave Me an Audience and Then Some

I never was a writer until I began to blog.  Perhaps I was a poet or at least I liked to call myself one as I dredged through hour upon hour of teenage self loathing in my journal.  I never was a writer though, just someone who liked to write but didn’t know where to do it or what to even write about.  Then one day I blogged.  My husband told me to, said it would be good for me and I trusted him so I thought why not?  Little did he know how big of an effect blogging would have on our lives and on our family.

To blog is to bare ones soul, to have a conversation with the world; a conversation where anyone can become  a critic and anyone can become an inspiration.  I quickly realized you have to have thick skin to blog honestly.  And yet, blogging has allowed me to create friendships and work relationships with people globally.  Blogging has allowed me to send seeds of inspiration into the world and I have been lucky enough to be told that I have inspired others.  We choose how we represent ourselves to the world, and I represent myself through blogging.  I am not always right.  I am not always coherent.  I am not always positive even though I strive to be.  But I am always honest.  I want my blog to be a true reflection of the world I live in, the classroom I get to call home, and the incredible children that get to be part of my family.  So through my blog I invite others in to our world.  I invite others to see how a classroom can function with respect, love and honest communication.  I invite others to be the change, to be positive, and to give those children a voice.  I am no longer shouting to an empty room; blogging has given me an audience.  I am no longer alone, there are others out there like me.  What a relief.

This blog is in response to the Rockstar Meme on How Blogging Changed My World – thank you for the inspiration.

I now invite these 5 people to share their journey and their story as I feel it is an important one:
Josh Stumpenhorst 
Matthew Ray
Chris Wejr
Greta Sandler
Katie Hellerman