Editor’s Note: Sharon Davison was kind enough to spend some time with the EduWin Crew last week. After being amazed by her dedication and insight on the subject of blogging we asked if she would write a guest post for EduWin Weekly! Below you will find some great advice on the power of blogging, enjoy:
Thinking About Blogging?
Sharon E. Davison
Kindergarten Teacher in Vermont
Many people ask me continually why I blog and how I manage it all. I don’t have an easy answer. For me blogging is about voice, presence, perspective and connectedness. I began blogging because I wanted to use my voice to connect with others to develop a larger audience with a variety of perspectives about what I am passionate about, learning. Blogging has opened up my world and given me confidence in my ability to use my voice to express my ideas as well as interact with others and their experiences.
The most important point for me, was the idea of audience. It is really important to think about your audience. Is it your students? families? both? other professionals? Once you have given this some thought you will begin to think about what you want to share. This is where you develop your voice and share your perspective. Once you begin to think about this and develop your ideas, you then begin to blog about what you are thinking.
Then you develop your audience further or not. For me I wanted to share my voice globally, so I did! I tweeted my blogs, used publicize so every time I posted, my posts were on linkedin, facebook and twitter. Through the use of social media, I discovered how amazing, supportive and interactive it can be! Soon people started following me and commenting about what they were reading and connecting with. Through this interaction I was then able to connect with a broader audience. This is important because as an educator I want to have many perspectives when it comes to learning. I am interested in what others are discovering with their students and communities of learners. Together when we share and connect, we have so much more opportunity to collaborate and share our voices in meaningful ways. Through our shared perspectives we are able to enrich and make learning meaningful for the students and professionals we connect with.
Blogging is an amazing way to share your voice, connect, collaborate and experience what it is like to be a digital citizen. Digital citizenship is here! As an educator of young students and their families I have a unique opportunity to begin to model “how to” be a safe, kind, responsible digital citizen. I model this in the beginning through the use of many different technological tools. Blogging is an easy way to model this with and for your students and their families.
The benefits here are endless. Many of my students are able to share their kidblogs not only with other peers in our classroom, but our learning buddies, my students families and extended family too! Click here to read about a post I wrote on the benefits of blogging with young children.
I have had students travel abroad and share photos of their trips with us! I post on our class blog to share. Other students and their families use their kidblogs to say hello and post about their travels throughout the summer or about a book they are reading. This past year my students were able to learn about African animals and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France because one of my students parents traveled there. This type of experience is authentic and became very engaging for my students because one of their classmates was motivated to share because their father was away. We used Skype to connect and say hello as well as have conversations about the animals in Africa and the Eiffel Tower in Paris!
Through my interactions and relationships with my students I am able to connect and collaborate in global ways. The technology makes things easy, enriching and available for everyone.
Interested In Starting A Blog?
Things to Think About For Teachers:
2.Audience. Think about who you want to share your voice with and why. Are you thinking about a specific curricular topic? Professional reflections? Explorations and Discoveries with your students?
3.Frequency. How often will you post? Why? Who will be blogging? You?, You and your students? students? This is important. I am invested in my blogs and find them as endless opportunities to connect and reflect globally. Think about your personal commitment here.
4.Public or Private? How are you going to promote, share and publicize your blog? This is important to think about. What are your reasons for keeping it public? private?
5. Focus of your Blog. This is important. Do you want to blog about your professional practice? Discoveries and experiences with collaborative tools? A specific curricular area? Click here to read an article I had published on the types of blogs I have created and their purpose.
6.Keep it Simple! Think about your purpose and goals for your blog. Start off simply. Keep a focus and explore it. This way you will have time to experience not only how to blog, but what possibilities make themselves available to you and your students.
7.Be Open To Change. Through blogging you will experience how transparent your voice becomes. This is important because it will help you develop your voice, keep an open mind and think about how blogging can change, open up your classroom and what you are exploring and sharing in the world.
Blogging with Students?
Things To Think About:
1.In the beginning be very explicit and intentional about blogging. Show your class blog, post on it daily, 3-4 times a week and explore it with your students. I usually start with 3 simple phrases… I noticed,I observed, I wonder. I have these phrases in my classroom as part of our culture.
2. Blogging needs to be a part of your culture, not an add on or a reward. Be sure to have opportunities throughout the day for your students to look at your blog(s) and have conversations about what they see. Your students will become independent through your example, excitement and modeling.
3. Commenting and leaving compliments is vital. Be sure to model this for your students, and with them. This is another opportunity for you to be explicit about being a safe, kind and responsible digital citizen. After my students make posts I email my parents to tell them and then I ask them to post a positive comment on their child’s blog and others. I usually say it is okay to post on a child you do not know. This is important because again I am modeling how people we may not know may also have something important and kind to say about your idea.
4. Showcase and Highlight! Give your students daily/weekly opportunities to share their blog post and ask their peers to share what they notice. This is an awesome way to get at commenting with younger bloggers.
5. Widgets! I have a map of the world on my class blog and kidblog also has this feature. It is important because it begins to give students an idea about audience and perspective about where in the world their ideas are being explored and shared. Another nice example of how to be a safe,kind, responsible, digital citizen.
6. Be Explicit! When I first introduce blogging to my students I always begin with a familiar text. I do this because it is important to have have real, tangible things that your students have experience with. I show/ask them to tell me what they notice about the text… it has a title, illustrations, words, words match the illustrations, etc. Then I can show them what it looks like when they post. They will also need a title, an illustration or photo and words that give the illustration meaning. Through this type of modeling your students will begin to make authentic connections with text and creating a post.
8. Audience(digital citizen)! I also use the example of how a blog is an online journal that never goes away. This way people outside of our classroom can see and listen to what we are learning. I again use an example of their science journals. What do you notice? How is our blog and your science journal similar? different? It is important to be explicit and give concrete examples for your students. Starting with something familiar to help them make the connection with their blog.
9. Blogging Tips! Develop simple “how to” blogging tips with your students. This way they have control and own the expectation for not only “how to” blog, but what components their post needs to have.
For example: (Last year these were our blogging tips in @kkidsinvt)
1. Log into your kidblog
2. Create a new post.
3. Have a title.
4. Write nice words that match your picture.
5. upload your photo or drawing from Doodle Buddy or an iPad(ask a friend if you need help)
6. Touch blue button to save post.
I blog because it is a valuable way for me and my students to connect and collaborate globally. I have endless opportunities to model explicitly not only “how to” blog, but the reasons as well. It is important to always share how it is related and supports learning. I do not blog because it is something I have to do, but rather it is a choice, I’m very happy with because it supports learning for everyone and most important, it gives everyone a voice.
Blogs I Have Created:
Summer Reading Blog(use, interact with only in the summer)
Life Studies Blog(a science focus)
Class Blog(focuses on everyday life in Kindergarten)
Kindergartenlife Blog(where I reflect professionally)
Kidblogs(former kkids individual blogs)
Published Articles and Posts:
Wiki’s I Have Created: