Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why a blog is an important tool for teachers

I just had a quick conversation this morning between classes with Neelie Barthenheier, our most excellent middle school French teacher here at University School of Milwaukee, about our upcoming in-service/mini-conference day on January 25th. The in-service is going to be neat because teachers and staff have the opportunity to choose their own learning plan for the day by selecting from a wide range of hour-long mini-conference sessions. Neelie just informed me that she'll be signing up for a session that Will Piper, our most excellent 5th grade world geography teacher, and I will be co-presenting titled, "Wikis, Blogs and Podcasts...Oh My!" Will and I are going to facilitate this learning experience so we maximize the amount of play time that teachers have. In our conversation Neelie mentioned that she is looking forward to the session so she can take some time to work with wikis and think about how she might use this tool in her classroom. She then mentioned a blog and talked about how she isn't quite yet certain how this would fit into what she is currently doing. My immediate response regarding her question about the utility of a blog from a teacher's perspective is that it legitimizes your presence in the online world as an educator and it helps you reach out and form connections for you and your students. I know there are more compelling uses for a teacher blog from a teacher's point of view (eg-homework, notes to parents, sharing class photos, reflection on lessons). But for me, the relationships and connections that you develop are the most compelling reasons for teacher blogging.

So many of our teachers want to partake in collaborative student projects with kids in other regions of the country and world, but they haven't established their own online presence/identity and as a result, they don't have any connections.

Lucy Gray recently asked the question on her blog, "How does blogging impact your professional development." The responses have been great and will serve as a nice resource for our presentation on the 25th when teachers who are new to blogging ask about its value.

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