From September to December 2011, I will be posting assignments for the TLDL class I am taking: EDES 501 Web2.0. Enjoy!

Friday, December 2, 2011


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. 
10) Cheer.
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. 

Blogging Spectrum Visual

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:

Although my personal blog is a Level 2 on Will's spectrum, I still think that there is great value to journaling on a blog. First of all, there is an audience and interaction with others. I went a little overboard when I first started blogging in 2005. I LOVED having conversations with my friends and their friends and their friends about motherhood. I had a community at my fingertips and it was wonderful. It was so therapeutic to read and write about how we felt, our insecurities, perceived failures and frustrations. I didn't feel alone in motherhood any more which is strange because I am around mother's all the time. But I think people are more honest when they write for an audience they don't necessarily know. Through that honesty we were able to work through problems and be better women and mothers and actually feel like weren't as bad as we were imagining. As my daughter grew I no longer needed that community and I slowly drifted away from those conversations and stopped for awhile.

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:

When I met Jennifer Branch the first time to discuss the TL-DL program, she told me that if I started to follow the recommended blogs it would change my life. She was right. Initially I was so overwhelmed by the amount of information and the new ideas I was exposed to, but over time I started to see patterns and similarities in the information and the puzzle pieces started to come together for me. My life changed because my eyes were opened to new and refreshing ideas in the area of education. What had become a stagnant pool in my life was now a rushing river. I felt so refreshed, just like I do every time I tube down a river.

Over the past year and a half I have collected quite a few blogs that I follow:

I really feel that I have learned something from each of them because they all have something different to share me. 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:

I have another quote from Richard Byrne's blog post from above, that I think displays a great mindset to have if you want your students to blog. 

It was great to read Richard's suggestion that students don't need to be writing complex posts. I think that would discourage many of them. But if we start them at Levels 2-4 and have them spend time reading and commenting on each others' posts, they will learn valuable lessons with this new digital literacy. I also like the idea of them reminding each other of what they have learned. Repetition can be a great tool when the same ideas are shared in different ways. 

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:
There were a few things that stood out to me in this post. The first is that she mentions teaching students how to blog, how to be safe and how to comment. I guess these skills don't come innately to these supposed digital natives. I also thought it was interesting that she strongly encourages not to mark the blogs. In my grades-based mind I would have to give them a mark because I need marks for progress reports! It would be hard for me to spend  so much time on something with my class and not be able to formally evaluate them on it. Lastly, I really liked that the students connected with other student bloggers and that they mapped where the bloggers were from. 

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 Quin went to China with his family for 3 weeks. His teacher asked him to check into their class website whenever he could, and write about what he’d been doing. They would check for postings every day and ask questions for him to answer. Quin wrote about the weather, what he ate, the shopping trips they took, the places they visited, the activities he did and that he lost a tooth. He even told his class that at his uncle’s shoe factory, people did the sewing and not machines. His parents wrote about the housing conditions and lack of refrigeration. His classmates responded by telling him that they missed him, that they wanted to go to China, that chicken feet sounded good and that they also had loose teeth. What a truly authentic learning opportunity for all involved! This is such a great example of making our classrooms as big as the world (Kist 2010, p.2).

Well this is my final blog post for the assignment other than my final reflections. It's a little surreal. Goodnight.

Kist, W. (2010). The socially networked classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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