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A Review of 3 Educator Blogs: Making Connections!

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Education Blogs: The Digital Classroom

Primary Tech by Kathleen Morris

Primary Tech is runner-up nominee for the 2012 Edublog Awards: Best Teacher Blog.  Created and maintained by Kathleen Morris, the blog addresses technology integration within classrooms.  Ms. Morris is a primary school teacher (4th grade) at Leopold Primary School in Victoria, Australia.  She has even received recognition for her ambitious and creative integration of technology into the classroom from The Age newspaper.

The blog is very informative and aims at educating children,adults, and teachers in technology.  For example, when discussing digital safety, Kathleen Morris addressing digital footprints of children, cyber safety, and even internet tips for teachers.  These resources address real-life problems while providing detailed solutions.  How easy is that for all subscribers!She tackles NETS for Students Standard 5: “Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior” with her leadership and pioneering.  Who would have thought that 4th graders would individually have blogs and contribute to a classroom blog?  Also, for the skeptics or more traditional teachers, there is a blog post titled The Benefits of Educational Blogging.  I highly recommend this for new and experienced teachers.  It discusses the growth of students beyond technology such as mathematics, literacy, social skills, and creating a closer community (blog as a “window into the classroom”).

This blog finds a way to blend professionalism (teaching) and youth (students).  Information is presented clearly and concisely to reduce confusion with a broad audience of subscribers.  Throughout the blog you can see the dedication and passion of Kathleen Morris.  She is so confident of the success of blogging that she provides guidelines for anyone to get started!  Her advocacy is also evident through endless documented evidence, personal experience, and outside resources.

Speech-Therapy-Language dot com by Caroline Bowen

Winner of the 2012 Edublog Awards: Best Teacher Blog, Caroline Bowen credentials in speech-language pathology are beyond impressive.  Her professional education, research, and collaboration set her apart as an educational blogger.  How you may ask?  Well, have you ever wondered about speech and language disorders?  If so, you can learn about each one, diagnosis, treatment, therapy, and even be put in touch with a speech-language pathologist or speech and language therapist near you!  Unlike blogs I have seen thus far, Speech-Therapy-Language dot com is a true professional blog and resource.  If you are not convinced yet, just take a look at the blog’s cumulative glossary.  The appearance and layout of the blog make it user-friendly with ease of navigation through an otherwise complex field of knowledge.

This is not a casual blog.  Caroline Bowen is a true professional who holds herself to very high standards.  Teachers with students who may have a type of speech disorder would be wise to use this blog.  It offers professional growth in a highly specialized medical and education field.  Additionally, this type of blog along with the school’s speech therapist would be ideal to share with parents who may be concerned about their child’s speech development.  In the classroom, this type of blog could be used to discuss diversity and disorders.  I could picture myself in a 5th grade classroom grouping students and letting them decide on a disorder to present via Powerpoint, video, blog entry, etc.  The great thing about the source is it’s extremely high credibility and ease of navigation even for students.

Upside Down Education by Amanda Dykes

Nominated for 2010 Edublog Awards: Best New Blog, 2011 Edublog Awards: Best Teacher Blog, and 2012 Edublog Awards: Best Teacher Blog, Amanda Dykes is a proven educational/teacher blogger.  Also noteworthy, Amanda Dykes has taught 1st, 3rd, and 5th grades while currently teaching 6th grade.  This personal blog (no affiliation with a school or class) focuses on technology use in classrooms.  Her post, What Is Standing Between You and Your Students Using Tech?, shows some great graphical representations of significant data.  According to her source, mashable, a majority of teachers want more technology in classrooms, 90% of teachers have access to computers, 59% of teachers have access to interactive whiteboards, and 35% of teachers have access to tablets.  This data address the availability but not the implementation or use within the classroom.  Nonetheless, the data is useful.

Upside Down Education does offer some non-tech posts.  I enjoyed the post, Insanity Prevention, discussing how administrators can help teachers from losing their minds throughout a school year.  The social aspect of a professional environment cannot be undervalued according to Amanda Dykes.  Teachers need time to be with teachers, especially during the school day to plan, vent, and talk openly as adults.  She also recommends professional development outside of the school that builds a community and bonds teachers beyond lesson plans, books, and student interactions.  I enjoyed her confidence to address administrators who may read her blog directly.  She is not afraid to express her opinion and give recommendations to others.  Many teachers can relate to this type of post (not just technologically savvy readers) which shows the variety of posts available through the blog.

Overall, Upside Down Education is an easy read that does not take much time to gain valuable information.  Unlike Speech-Theray-Language dot com, Upside Down Education is a far less professional blog yet still very eloquent.  This contrast between blogs should be demonstrated to students to show two distinctly different blogs who are both successful.  With a creative and relaxed blog comes certain advantages too.  One can speak more freely with opinion language, diversify posts (such as Amanda Dykes does posting about technology statistics, ideas to improve teacher moral, online reputation, and even soapbox about failures of teachers), and let your mind creatively guide you to your next post.  Amanda Dykes does a great job modeling a creative, useful blog that is expressive and informative.

If you have any recommended teacher blogs, feel free to comment and I will definitely look into them!

Have you ever seen a blog post with an indented first line of paragraphs?  Odd…

Have a great weekend.

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2 thoughts on “A Review of 3 Educator Blogs: Making Connections!

  1. Dan, excellent choices for review! I enjoyed reading them and learned a few things along the way. Your first blog review about safety and technology was interesting as I often wonder about the age kids are using technology these days. My 5 year old daughter is able to do things with technology that I could not do until I was in my 20’s. However, with safety as a concern of mine from a personal perspective with my daughter, when do you feel it is suitable for students (children) to be using social media (blogging, Facebook, etc.)? Do you feel it would be beneficial for students in elementary school to be allowed to participate in social media where there is the chance of a child molester preying on the children? I have no issues with my daughter using technology for games but for learning and for pleasure, but I am curious to if/when it will be ok to allow her to interact socially on the internet.
    Your second blog review regarding speech therapy is very interesting as I feel blogging might actually be a very helpful tool in some instances to enable a student to communicate. The student can communicate by writing responses that may otherwise be difficult for them to verbally express themselves or answer questions. My feeling there is that by enabling a student to use this type of technology, it could lead to more confidence which would help them in many ways. What are your thoughts on using blogging to assist students who have verbal disabilities?
    Finally, the third blog you reviewed gave me a chuckle, “Insanity Prevention”. After experiencing 7th grade science this past Spring, I may have to add that site to my favorites list! It does present a good point in that it allows teachers to communicate with other adults. Dealing with younger students (Elementary level in your case) can become frustrating and no matter how much you try to communicate or reason with students at that age, the maturity level to comprehend and react accordingly is just not there. I feel this site could be beneficial to discuss particular situations you may have with a student or situation that someone else may already have had experience with (like threatening the teachers with a chain saw for example). Maybe they could tell what they did and if it worked or not. In some professions, it is recommended that you not socially interact with colleagues outside of work. Do you feel there is a line where teachers can and should communicate (i.e. personal versus professional)?

    Again, a pleasure reading your blog and I did learn some valuable information.

    Bryan

    • Thanks for such a great comment and questions Bryan!
      First, I am not a fan of personal social media in schools (twitter, facebook, etc.). However, if the school is using blogs to inform students, I think it can be treated just like any other educational website. Some schools are exploring with facebook pages and twitter but I think they are targeting parents as their audience. In elementary school I am worried when I hear about 4th and 5th graders with facebook or instagrams accounts because I do not feel they are mature or educated enough to be safe.
      Next, blogging is like a voice and therefore can be powerful for someone who has a verbal disability. For example, I work with a nonverbal student who has a Vantage Lite Device (speaking device) but prefers to use computers. Ideally, this student will learn to type efficiently enough to possibly have his own blog one day. For others, blogs offer information and connect like-minded people.
      Last, you bring up a great point about blogging personally versus professionally. Not everything is meant to be blogged about. Situations with students may be one of those things, especially if of a sensitive matter. But for myself I would be more comfortable consulting the school administration and psychologist. And yes my experience with threats involving chainsaws is something I would love to discuss with those who have been threatened similarly! I think that particular experience of mine from kindergarten will resonate with others and myself for quite some time haha.

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