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January 6, 2011 / Sarah Ludwig

My thing

Isn’t it interesting how librarians and educators get a thing? I could give you examples, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m being facetious…I’m not. I think having a thing is great. It helps with self-branding, if you will, either on an institutional or a larger scale. People get speaking engagements because of their thing…and they’re awesome at it.

I don’t have a thing thing…you know, a thing that people beyond my small circle know about. But I do find that I’m starting to have a thing at my school: blogging. This is interesting to me, because it’s not something I set out to emphasize, but it’s totally something that the teachers are interested in, so I’ve responded to it. Don’t get me wrong: I think blogging is great. I just didn’t become a blogging evangelist; it worked the other way around.

Here’s why blogging is so great: it works for all age levels at all disciplines. At our school’s professional development day on Monday, I showed my workshop attendees Maria Knee’s amazing KinderKids blog. Two days later, one of the third-grade teachers brought her kids in to start using kidblog.org to write about their New Year’s Resolutions.

I think it’s great for me to focus so strongly on one area. I tend to be a bit peripatetic when I teach and plan, jumping from one tech to another, trying to find the one “perfect” app that works for a class or a project. And that means I can get muddled at times: what should I do here? Make a movie? Do a Voicethread? Digital storytelling? I go onto ilearntechnology and freetech4teachers and search and search and search…there are so many amazing resources out there that it can make your head spin, and then two months later you’re thinking to yourself I know there is the most perfect resource for this but I have no idea what it IS.

I think some of this gets back to a resolution I wrote for myself professionally, at the request of our division head, about planning. I feel disoriented unless I’ve got a plan, and for me that means an overarching structure for the whole year, with projects fitting into that structure, based on benchmarks the students should be hitting. We’re so, so, so on our way to that, but I need to take the initiative to get it down on paper and implement it. That means no more searching websites for activities two days before class, but rather building a curriculum that dovetails with the classroom curriculum, bringing the kids to the appropriate tech, and focusing on skills.

So if my thing is blogging — if the people have spoken — then let’s do it! The 8th grade already has 53 posts on books and Greek mythology, with a whopping 122 student comments on those posts. These students are doing something they’ve never done before (with a few exceptions): sharing their thoughts online for others to read and respond to. It’s pretty awesome, and they totally get why we’re doing it. More teachers want in, and I’m game. After all, it’s my thing.

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