|cc licensed flickr photo shared by Will Lion|
Humility. Yes. Though I am not a marketer, blogging has taught me humility. It's not like I ever thought I was a great writer, because I'm not, but when I read fantastic blog posts it puts my writing to shame! Why are some people just natural with their words??
But here I am assuming that others just come up with ideas, start writing about it and viola, they have a great blog post. Or are they like me:
My blogging process:
1) Have an idea.
2) Start writing the post in my head.
3) Start writing post online in between changing diapers and cleaning house (or whatever you do in your stage of life).
4) Stop writing because you need to change another diaper.
5) Go back to blog post when baby is napping and you wonder what on earth you've written about and why there are a bunch of incoherent thoughts all over your draft. Couldn't you have written in complete sentences??
6) Sort through the jumble and try and make it organized, clean and concise.
7) Take two hours at least to get it where you want. Have no idea if your even close to where it should be.
8) Start cheering every time you finish a section.
9) Hit the darn publish button b/c your sick of reading your own words.
11) Pick up child from school, make dinner, clean the disaster the baby left on the floor, do homework with child, throw kids in bed, put yourself to bed. Can't sleep.
12) Have an idea.
Right at this moment I am at step 5. Kids are asleep as it's 6:16am.
So here we go...
Reflecting on the process:
Blogging has been hard for me (did the above rant clue you in to that?) thanks to Richardson's spectrum. If I had never learned about his spectrum I'd happily be blogging like a journal. But no, I'm supposed to be analyzing and synthesizing. Come on Will! Give us all a break! We're tired! :-) But alas, I did what I always do when I'm trying to figure things out. I made a visual. Check out the second page in my document because that is where I put the definitions of all the words that were confusing me.
I wrote some thoughts about the blogging spectrum in a class discussion for my EDES 501 class. Here are my thoughts:
Richardson's spectrum. has given me lots to think about. Reality is that I didn't really understand what he was talking about at level 6, 7, & 8. I understood the words but I couldn't visualize them in blog format. The two people I follow the most are Joyce Valenza and Richard Byrne (Free Technology for Teachers) and they both do a lot of posting links to good sources which is only level 4.
A recent blogger I have found is Angela Watson (The Cornerstone) and the things she writes about just speak to me. From what I have read so far, her blog is at level 6. She is very reflective, but it's mostly just her ideas. Mind you she does spent time on comments and her discussions do go on over time putting her at Level 8.
I guess what I am saying is that great bloggers aren't all complex bloggers. Do they need to become complex bloggers or is sitting at levels 4-7 good enough? Maybe the answer is that bloggers go up and down the spectrum depending on what they want to share (and how busy their lives are, and the purpose for their blog.)
On pg. 31 of Richardson's book, the page this spectrum is on, there is a quote from Ken Smith. There is one line in the quote that jumped out at me last night:
"Blogging, at base, is writing down what you think when you read others."
So I guess blogging is my opinion about someone else's opinion and it goes on and on like that. I guess through that process we learn about different view points and we start to synthesis our ideas to create an even better idea. Maybe that is why we have the cliche "Two heads are better than one" and maybe the cliche "Great minds think alike" is false:-)
Blogging for Personal Use:
Then my sister-in-laws started to blog and I joined on the bandwagon again. This time I wrote about the happenings of our family. It was so much fun to read about the lives of our extended family and see pictures. We looked forward to their posts and still do! One of the best parts of keeping this blog though is the record of our lives that we are keeping. It is really fun to go back and read our posts. And with companies like Blurb we can print out our "family journal".
What's most exciting about blogging as a family is that the nieces have started their own blogs and it is fascinating to read what they have to say. I especially love reading my daughters blog. I learn a lot about her through it. Here is my favourite post so far:
The best part about her blogging is that she is now keeping the family journal instead of me. Yeah!!
I also think my blog has helped me improve my writing which is a sentiment I share with mreilly. He feels that writing in certain style (blogging) can strengthen your other writing in styles (academic). He writes:
As it turns out, I have come to the decision that “academic” and online writing share about as much DNA as a great ape and a human do. Depending on how one looks at it, they share almost everything and nothing in common. The crossover between the two, however, produces interesting hybrid effects. For example, I decided that any research I introduced into my blog would need some veneer of storytelling, mystique, or performance. At the same time, I would need to write direct and honest statements, which might be read by someone with no idea about my topic or interest. The practice of shifting between registers of storytelling and personal clarity has benefitted my “academic” writing, and I have a will continue to have a good impression of blog-form even if the forum were to disappear tomorrow.I am really hoping that all the time I have spent writing on this blog will improve my academic writing!
Blogging for Professional Development:
Richard Byrne discusses this concept in the following blog post.
I have definitely said "I don't have anything to say." That is why this blog post was so refreshing. Maybe I should believe in myself a little more! But it is intimidating to think that I am throwing ideas out there among the educational giants! I have sat in plenty of staff meetings where I am looked at as just a young twerp who has no idea what I am talking about. Last thing I want it is to have some same experience online! But I suspect that those who scowl at me in staff meetings aren't online - they can't be bothered - and those that are online are open-minded enough to be patient with us young-ins.
This leads me to my fear of blogging. What if others do start reading my blog and they don't like what I have to say or how I say it?? John T Spencer wrote about this in his blog post Why I Blog?. (read just the highlights)
Essentially I have been thinking of writing a disclaimer on this blog:
I get it. I don't know everything. You probably do know much more than I do, and I am probably missing part of the story. So just kindly post some links of where I can find the missing information, or politely leave me a kind comment and be on your merry way:-)
I do want my thinking to be pushed differently and I do want to be involved in answering hard questions but I want it to be done kindly. I'm always so afraid of the mean people out there! But like John said, through blogging he experienced acceptance that saved him from burnout, and found kindred spirits. I guess that outweighs the things I fear.
Blogging in Education:
Miss Ripp blogs with her students and she says it has been an "enriching educational experience". She wrote a blog post on 14 Steps to Meaningful Student Blogging. I have included some of steps below:
In another class, Miss Wilson's has had her Gr.1 students write and draw in their journals frequently. Recently she switched to blogging and feels that blogging is even better than journal writing. Here are some of her reasons:
Miss Wilson isn't the only person who has mentioned that a real bonus to blogging (or anything else online) is having a real or authentic audience versus just a one man audience of a teacher. In a study done by McGrail and Davis, it was found that at the beginning of the blogging exercise, students paid little attention to their audience as it was more abstract to them than real - their writing was detached. The article went so far to say that their writing was self- centered as they did not think at all of the needs of their readers because their only reader was their teacher and she was just an evaluator. It wasn't until students received comments that they became aware of their audience.
To me, this study is saying that blogging is of no more value to students than writing on paper if their only audience is going to be their teacher.
To end this post, I want to discuss the use of blogs outside of the classroom for the classroom. In the schools I have taught, there were students who have taken extended trips to see family or just to travel, during all seasons of the year. If we want our classrooms to be as big as the world (Kist 2011, p. 2) wouldn’t it be terrific if the students could bring the world to their classroom while they were away? Couros believes that some of the best learning can happen when families travel because they are being exposed to their (or another) culture and they are bonding with each other. He is opposed to sending homework with students as he does not feel that it provides meaningful learning for them: it is out of context and they have other things to explore. He provided an example of what could be done while students were done and calls it authentic learning.
Grade two student website
Kist, W. (2010). The socially networked classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.