Whole New World of Teachers: Friends I Never Knew I Had

I have titled this blog entry “Whole New World of Teachers” because after reviewing a few different blogs, I have realized that I have only scratched the surface of a whole new world of teachers that I never knew about. It is overwhelming just how much information is out there, but how wonderful that all these smart people can come together and make connections, support each other and form friends all in the digital world!!! In this blog post, I will review some “ah-ha” moments I had while reading the blogs of 3 fantastic teachers, and reflect on how this experience has changed me as a teacher.

Primary Tech by Kathleen Morris

It was just a joy reading Primary Tech by Kathleen Morris. She is honest in describing her opinions, failures, and successes. It was very cool for me to learn that she taught in Victoria, Australia, because it is a place that I visited when I lived in Australia. At first glance, I was not so sure that I could really get anything out of this blog because Kathleen Morris is a fourth grade teacher, and I will be teaching middle or high school, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out how wrong I was. Students are learning technology younger and younger. The students I read about in this blog clearly know more about technology and blogging then I do. It was a very humbling experience. The focus of her blog is technology and the classroom. The posts include many things we have discussed so far in class, such as a call to all teachers to use Creative Commons, teaching students about their digital footprint and the importance of blogging.  She describes her classroom blog and how it has developed in her classroom. While reading this blog, I had a big “ah-ha” moment when I read about the benefits of blogging, and she explained how blogging made her students feel more confident. They were producing work and writing comments that were being looked at by other students all over the world. What an exciting experience for students. This shows them that they really are smart enough to have their voices heard around the world to an authentic audience, not just the teacher, and their parents. Morris writes

“In the traditional classroom, the only audience of student work was the teacher and sometimes classmates and parents. Blogs provide a much larger audience for student work and an avenue for feedback and self-improvement through commenting. I have found that students really take pride in the work that goes on the blog and want to do their best for their impending audience.” (Morris)

 I also watched videos of her students where the students describe how cool it is to see a comment from a student in another part of the country or the world. It is a beautiful thing to see students motivated to learn and blogging to the students is exciting and fascinating. Morris also explains that blogging is good for students learning social skills, literacy, math, ICT skills (I learned that this is someone who is knowledgeable and educated in information, communication and technology systems). It also creates a forum for home-school connections. Students can continue to blog while at home or while on vacation. The students can stay connected to the classroom even when they are sick or on the weekend. Parents can also have a chance to really see what students are doing in class. It builds a positive classroom community where students learn to work with each other for a common goal. Learning about the benefits of blogging has made me so excited to try blogging in my own classroom. I would also love to implement a project similar to the “Our World, Our Numbers Global Project” In this project, classrooms from all over world collaborate. Morris explains that “A different class “leads” a mathematical topic every week or so, publishing posts and replying to comments. The other classes read the posts, possibly publish their own posts, and leave blog comments.”(Morris) What a fantastic way for students from all over the world to learn from each other.

Cool Cat Teacher by Vicki Davis

My first look at the “Cool Cat Teacher” blog, I was excited to see podcast. I have a few podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis such as “Stuff you Missed in History Class” by Tracy V. Wilson who is the site director of HowStuffWorks.com and editor, Holly Frey. I am always on the look-out for new podcasts and after reviewing Vicki’s blogs, I think that I will enjoy her podcast called “Every Classroom Matters. The great thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them on your smart phone and take learning with you while you work out or go shopping. Davis is a teacher, an author, a speaker, a blogger, a mother, and she helped create the Flat Classroom project. She is basically superwomen. I don’t know how she has enough time! The Flat Classroom project is a means for students to come together on the web. Davis explains that the Flat Classroom project “uses Web 2.0 tools to support communication and interaction as well as collaboration and creation between students and teachers from classrooms around the world.”(Davis) What a good idea to create a forum for students to collaborate. In reading her blog, I also realized it was a collection of interesting things on the web. She says that she blogs 3-4 times a week and sometimes a blog post is just a cool article she found or a link to an interesting website. I came to the conclusion that blogging is all about sharing! It is a place for teachers to show all the random cool things they come across and through this can help others and create an amazing partnership among teachers.

Coal Cracker Classroom by Suzie Nestico

For my last blog, I wanted to take a look at the blog of a social studies teacher, but with the list of top teachers blogs, I was having trouble finding one. I think it is a good idea of the title of the blog to represent the content area the teacher teaches if relevant.  While looking through Vicki Davis’s blog, she recommended the blog of Suzie Nestico. She blogs about her passion for using technology in a social studies classroom. It was interesting in her post about actually using the Flat Classroom to learn with other students from around the world for the purpose of gaining culture and understanding in a social studies class. Nestico explained

Each student worked with an international partner to create a multimedia presentation based on one of the ten “Global Economic Flatteners,” as described by Thomas L. Friedman in his book The World is Flat:  A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. Student projects were judged internationally by a panel of professionals in both the education and technology fields. ” (Nestico,)

I love this project because students can collaborate with students from around the world and get to understand how different cultures work. They also are motivated to do the project because the projects were judged internationally.   As a student, doing a project like this would make me so excited.

I want to share blogging with other teachers when I become a teacher, by simply telling other teachers about all the cool things I learn from blogs. I will also ask other teachers if they want to team up and create a forum for classrooms in the same building who can compete with each others blogs. For example, using the blog to post class grades and students can see each others scores promoting a sense of wanting to be better. Classroom Blogs can also be used in the same building to have older students teach younger students. What if there was a blog where a high school class and a middle school class connected, and students could freely discuss what the transition would be like from middle school to high school. This type of learning environment always teaches students to care about the well-being and education of others.

In all these blogs, I realize that not only have I and the world benefited from these blogs, but they must also be very educational, reflective, and rewarding for the teachers who write them.  I think it is so cool how much pride is in these blogs and how these teachers really seemed to connect with other teachers who wrote comments. The teachers would always get back to others who wrote comments and thoughtfully responded to other professionals. Blogs in and of themselves can be a fantastic means of professional development, but they are also a forum for teachers to talk about conferences and awards available for teachers. In the blog by Kathleen Morris, I learned about International Society of Technology in Education which holds conferences for teachers to learn about technology in the classroom.  In the blog by Vicki Davis, I learned about the K12 Online Conference where teachers have the opportunity to go to a conference in real time online! In the blog by Suzie Nestico, I learned about the Ed Camp Social Studies, which is a conference helping social studies teachers use new technology. Teachers can also sometimes attend a conference through Skype.  I found it really touching how blogging can be so supportive as well. It is a place where teachers can comfort and support each other. It is a safe place where teachers can stay connected with current and former students and parents. Teachers can post what is happening in their careers, such as rewards they win, and this gives students and parents a means of being a part of the excitement. Lastly, I would like to reflect on how blogs can feel so personal. I like reading blogs that feel like I am chatting with a close friend; blogs that are honest and passionate. I hope that one day, I have a blog that comes across in this manner.

Davis, Vicki. Cool Cat Teacher. N.p., n. d. Web. 14 Jun. 2013. <http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/&gt;.

Morris, Kathleen. Primanry Tech. N.p., March 14 2009. Web. 14 Jun. 2013. <primarytech.global2.vic.edu.au/>.

Nestico, Suzie. Coal Cracker Classroom. N.p., 18 Mar 2011. Web. 14 Jun. 2013. <http://coalcrackerclassroom.wordpress.com/&gt;.

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2 comments

  1. Hey Kirstie,

    FIrst off, your post is very aesthetically pleasing (and I’ll admit that I was captivated by the pseudo-Aladdin title)! I think you made a great point about how blogs allow us to be connected and to share. As a future foreign language teacher I will constantly battle students about why the subject is important, and I think letting them blog and share and get feedback from people around the world will be really motivating to them and demonstrate that the learning is for more than learning’s sake.

    It’s great that you were able to find a blog that was so connected to our class, do you think that having that connection made that blog easier to understand and made all of the concepts more motivating to learn?

    I also like that you reflected on the rewarding feeling that a teacher must get from writing a helpful and impressive blog for others. I think that the self-rewarding aspect is something that we must keep in mind as teaching can often be difficult, especially to continue.

    It’s great that you found a conference specifically for helping social studies teachers integrate technology! I’m sure I could try to find one for foreign languages too!

    Thanks for all the great links,

    Rachel

  2. Kirstie,

    What a great post! First, I loved your title; how appropriate to call these people friends you never knew you had! Although I know culture and possibilities are different at every school, I have found my best friends in other teachers–I think this is the best profession! Your evaluation of the first blog, Primary Tech, verbalizes the way a lot of teachers feel; too often the students’ knowledge of technology far surpasses our own, which is why I think some teachers shy away. Instead, we should (like you did) see what the students and other teachers are up to and try to implement new ideas into our own classrooms or curriculum.

    What you said in your reflection really resonated with me. The way you suggested that blogging is a place for teachers to support and comfort each other was enlightening. I would never have thought of that idea, but you are so right. If I’ve learned anything from this project (of course I’ve learned much more than this!) it is that blogging is what you make of it, and it can be one of the most valuable tools in the teacher’s toolbox. (excuse the metaphor) Great post!

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