What is a blog? We hear the term all the time. It is short for Weblog. Which is nothing more than a log of thoughts about any given subject.It is published as a web page and we call it a” blog”.Using this technology anyone can become a published author. This is one reason we have to teach students about how to determine whether or not sources are credible.
How does the world of blogging apply to educators and for our purposes here today, collaboration between educators?Whether it’s a teacher down the hall or a teacher in London, England, blogging can connect two or more teachers conveniently and instantly. Ideally, collaboration flourishes when collaborating teachers share the same planning period. Realistically, this is not always possible. More importantly, why limit the sharing of ideas between teachers in the same school, school system or country for that matter? Why not share ideas with teachers across the ocean?
Blogs do not require specialized training in computer language. Typing skills are helpful, but even that is not a requirement. If teachers have access to a computer with high speed internet, the conditions are already set up for blogging. The best part is that it meets a requirement of most teachers and administrators….It’s free.
How will creating a blog create a collaborative environment? The key to successful collaboration is communication. Blogs are ideal for connecting teachers with other teachers. Teachers in a collaborative relationship who commit just 20 minutes each day to blogging ideas, reflections about how to make a lesson better, or comments about how to elaborate on a previous lesson could increase productivity of face to face collaboration. Going into a planning period already knowing the ideas, reflections and concerns of the other cooperating teacher means valuable time is saved for solving problems and making progress.
Teachers can also create special blogs to share with students. These blogs are ideal for homework reminders, special projects and questions. Occasionally, I will be waist deep in a project here in graduate school. A question will arise that I want to ask my professor about before I can progress. Do we think our students are any different?
Nothing is more powerful than the school to home connection. Getting parents involved, aware and on our side is what it’s all about. Parents are busy and often intimidated by formality of conferences which must be scheduled, pre-planned and time has to taken off from work to attend. Blogs do not replace formal teacher conferences, but blogs have an important purpose. Any parent with a computer or blackberry can blog. Imagine a teacher posting a message on the parent/teacher blog…Parents Needed For Fieldtrip to Washington, D.C…..Parents begin to sign on and volunteer. Perhaps, one parent can not attend the field trip, but offers to pack picnic lunches for all the students.
Students are already blogging with Facebook and Myspace. Why not use their familiarity with these forums in your classroom? Students could make good use of a social studies, English, Math blog with a little guidance and perhaps a participation grade for incentive. For example, each student who makes a valid contribution to the blog each week gets five points. This is the perfect opportunity for students to post current events.
To Collaborate teachers have to be creative and proactive because getting the quality planning time can be a challenge.
Blogs can easily be set to private…where only individuals with passwords may see or write to the blogs.
Ideas from teachers in other parts of the world help provide teachers with access to what other countries are doing. Students can collaborate with students from other parts of the world, too.
The sharing of files, power point presentations and ideas complete with editing rights is an outstanding way to use blogs. These types of files easily attach to blog entries. If you’d rather not give others access to actually editing your files, but would like to allow them to use them as is, you can set up a password for reading rights only.
Reality is that blogging requires a commitment. Nothing is worse than creating a blog and not making time to maintain it especially if you are using the blog to communicate with parents or students. If you begin a blog and announce it to parents and students, time must be made to maintain the blog. If a teacher is only going to check the blog on Friday afternoons, this announcement should be made in advance, so parent and students know what to expect. In a collaborative teacher relationship, the most beneficial use of a blog would be gained by daily entries even if they are brief.
Time management is critical. Set aside 20 minutes each day for proper collaboration using a blog.
Be aware, that your brainstorming of ideas “out loud” on your blog may draw criticism. If you post a public blog, you may draw fire from educators, administrators or non professionals. If you set your blog to private and give the password only to your collaborating teacher, you know who your critic will be. Agree to allow this type of open dialogue. It can only make your ideas better by bouncing them and shaping them into perfection.
If you know someone will be checking your blog, you are much more likely to first, create an entry on your blog, and second, follow through with any discussion your plan inspires.
If a teacher is willing to invest the time consistently to maintain a blog, the collaborative relationship will flourish!
Placing ideas and plans on a blog, teachers do risk criticism, but constructive criticism leads to positive changes which benefit both teachers and students.
Bainbridge Island School District in Washington had been using paper and pencil to for classroom management and instruction. They wanted a better way.
They wanted an integrated paperless way to keep track of attendance, grades and homework.
Empire Union School District in California were using an online testing service, but they were having some problems.
For example: the network would slow down to a crawl at timesStallingThis caused delays and made tasks difficult
FREE!!!!!The school must maintain the server.
Integrated System Manager, one stop place for management and instruction
In this situation I am describing two separate classrooms. The same week the 10th graders are learning about the Jazz Age in History class, the same 10th graders are studying the Great Gatsby in English class.
Teachers share information using wikis which come free and integrated into Moodle.
John Chambers from Cisco Networking Systems says many of the things “teachers and administrators have called distractions” are actually new tools which can be used for collaboration.
All these happening at once
A Guide On Collaboration For the ReluctantTeacher! Created by Ronna Williams For SPE 6630 Dr. Morin Troy University
Article One Addresses How Blogging Will Help Collaborators With Management and Instruction Planning Catalino, F. (2005). Why blog? Will your web log add to the world of knowledge? In 12 days of blogs, our expert demonstrates the myriad
benefits this new form of communication holds for teachers, students and parents alike. T H E Journal, Technological Horizons in Education, 33. Retrieved August 19, 2009
Blogging Benefits For Teachers Weblogs = Log of Thoughts Published as Web Page (Blogs) Anyone / Become a Published Author
Numerous Opportunities for Collaborative Relationships
Administration with Teachers
Without Interrupting Teaching Process/ Admin Check Reports
Data Reviewed Before Meeting/ Time Saved for Addressing Problems
Teachers with Teachers System Gives Instant Individualized Strategies
Team Teachers Have Reports In Hand During Co-Planning
Deficiencies Known/ Time Reserved For Team Action Plan
Can’t Wait to Co-teach? http://sites.google.com/site/rjcollaborativeteachingsite/ RECIPE FOR EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION At least one teacher who shares your teaching philosophy and has similar goals. One supportive administrator who will offer flexible planning situations for you and your co-teacher. Sprinkle in a generous investment of time. Top with heaping tablespoons of communication. Simmer for at least one academic year. Serves: all (students, teachers, parents, administrators) * No calories