Professional blogging for beginners

As part of the #EdBlogNZ week 2 challenges, Alex Le Long and Nathaniel Louwrens have paired up to collaborate on this blog post.

The challenge is to collaborate with another blogger to discuss an important issue in education. Post must be shared on both blogs, tagged with #edblognz on Twitter and include at least one media tool in the post (video, photo, embed something else).

So our important issue focuses on something that we have been pushing and driving for the past few months – Professional blogging. Well, blogging may not necessarily be the issue, perhaps more so, it is reflecting on our practice. Of course, we like to encourage teachers to do this through blogs. And since we co-presented during this week at #ulearn15 on Professional Blogging for Beginners, we thought we’d continue this theme.

Why should we reflect on our practice through blogs? As Steve Wheeler puts it in his post, 3 things you should know about blogging, blogging is public. Yes, you can make them private, but then you don’t have the opportunity for others to think about and consider what’s going on for you and add their point of view. You also don’t give them the opportunity to question their own practice. Remember… it’s for our students!

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This statement above, attributed to Karen Melhuish-Spencer, appeared on Steve Mouldey’s blog, is challenging. We are doing it for our students. We want our students to succeed. If we don’t share what’s going on we can’t learn from each other.

If you’re looking for other reasons to blog, other than to reflect, then check out this Padlet that #edblognz people contributed to recently: Why do you blog?

Blogging gives us an opportunity also to gather evidence for the Practising Teacher Criteria (what was the Registered Teacher Criteria). You can use your blog to write posts relevant to your learning, practise, questions etc and tag/label them with the PTC number. They then become easy to find, use, and share as necessary.

As we progress on our learning and teaching journey, no matter how long or how little we have been teaching, our practice continually evolves to best suit the students we have in front of us. By sharing our learning and developing understanding of this evolution in our practice, we’re then able to portray a sense of thoughtful reflection.

By using our blogs as a way to show this development we can quickly identify the different aspects of our practice by using tags or labels.

Building on our collaborative and sharing natures as teachers, we can learn more about the changes in education and the need to keep reflecting to enhance our own practices for our students.

I don’t have anything worth sharing! YES YOU DO!!!

So often when we’re wanting to blog we have a block. We feel like we don’t have anything worth sharing, or we think that all we’ve done is really obvious.

Well… Have a watch of this video (about 2 minutes)

Now what do you think? What’s obvious to you might be amazing to someone else!

I remember when I first presented at Ulearn back in 2010. My colleague and I shared some stuff that was based around web tools that we had been using for ages and were kind of assuming that everyone already knew about them. Boy were we wrong! There was so much opportunity for new learning to go on during that workshop! It was exciting!

So get writing! Share what you’re doing and don’t worry what others think or do. You never know… What you share might change the life (or perhaps teaching practice) of someone else!

Blogging – What’s in it for me?

LOGO - heads only (1)One of the challenges of the 2015 Connected Educator NZ #EdBlogNZ challenge is to write a post about why I blog professionally and what I blog about.

Many bloggers blog for hits, comments and an audience. While I do like those things, I blog first and foremost for me. Blogging gives me an opportunity to think about many facets of education, whether it be what’s going on in the news, what I’ve seen/heard at a conference or in a video, or reflecting on my own practice. Blogging helps me to clarify my own thoughts. Sometimes I can think about something for several days before I start writing. Other times I just jump straight in.

Blogging for me allows me to think and reflect on my practice and consider next steps. Sometimes the post might end up leaving me with more questions than answers—and this is fine. What I’ve learnt is that there is no right or wrong way to write a blog. Sometimes I feel like my blog posts come together nicely, and are worded well. Other times they feel like a jumble of random thoughts. All is okay.

I think that if I try writing for others, my blog will be less successful and useful to myself and my practice.

This quote from Steve Mouldey’s blog, that he noted from a ICOT session by Karen Melhuish Spencer has challenged me a lot with my blogging (and in fact in a lot of the work I do),

As educators we are morally obliged to share our practice for the good of all students.

Blogging gives me a way to share my practice, thoughts and questions with the ultimate goal to question and/or improve my practice (and perhaps that of others) to benefit our students.

The other part of blogging for me is the reading of other educator’s blogs. I have learnt so much and continue to do so. I’m often challenged by what I read, making me think further and sometimes another blog post comes from this also.

The rise of #EdBlogNZ

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Many of you will have noticed the hashtag #EdBlogNZ starting to gain a bit of momentum recently due to some great promotion from the likes of amazing connected educators such as Sonya van Schaijik (@vanschaijik) and Alex Le Long (@ariaporo22), but perhaps you’re wondering how it started.

I enjoy reading teacher blogs and have done for over 5 years now. I’ve used in the past my trusty Google Reader, Flipboard, Feedly, Blogtrottr and now I use Inoreader (RSS reader). However, as new and different edubloggers come along, they don’t get automatically added to my RSS reader, so I miss them.

I was using the edchatNZ hashtag to try to capture these new blogs, however some days that twitter stream runs hot and the blog posts are easily missed in the constant chatter. Fantastic that the chat is going on, but I wanted to capture those blog posts.

So I thought – we need a way to identify what is a blog in twitter, and hence the EdBlogNZ hashtag was born. I started it quietly, at the end of July 2014, tagging my own blog posts with it.

It didn’t really catch on. For over a month I tweeted using the hashtag. Had a couple of retweets but no one else noticed until…

Woohoo! Someone noticed! Not surprisingly it was Annemarie!!!

On that same day, September 6 2014, we saw two others share blogs with #EdBlogNZ!!! And it has started to grow from there with more and more people slowly picking up on the hashtag. Connected Educators Month NZ 2014 helped a bit, as well as quite a few tweets like this one:

Recently, thanks to awesome support from Sonya and Alex, we have expanded EdBlogNZ into a blog site that currently links to anyone who shares a blog post using the hashtag. Check out the blog: EdBlogNZ. Sonya has been compiling a spreadsheet of NZ educator bloggers for some time and this has been included in the blog.

EdBlogNZ also now has a twitter account: @EdBlogNZ. We plan on using this and the blog to set up some blogging challenges, likely to start off during the upcoming Connected Educators NZ. Look out for the challenges and follow us!

I’m really looking forward to where this takes us and am excited that #EdBlogNZ has finally really started to take off! Now I just have to keep up with all these awesome professional teacher blogs and bloggers!

Monday Mentions: 25 August 2014

Check out my favourite blog posts from the past week. Just two this week:

  1. First steps towards digital collaboration by Leanne from Hinengaro. Leanne reflects on a seemingly straight-forward staff PD session she ran about YouTube. It reminds me that some of the things we have been using for years are still new to some people!
  2. Epic #edchatNZ reflection by Brie Jessen-Vaughan from Teaching on the Wind. There have been many great #edchatNZ reflection blogs especially due to the challenge that was put out, so why did this one grab my attention? Brie has taken some learning shared how she has put it in to action. It’s really good stuff that she has shared!

Monday Mentions – 26 July 2010

Well I better get back into this after the July holidays… so here are my favourite posts from the past week.

Stand Up if You are Average…Anyone? This is a great post about labelling our students Gives you something to think about and makes good sense. From Blogging through the Fourth Dimension.

Looking for some different search engines? Top 10 Search Engines from Technology Tidbits: Thoughts of a Cyber Hero.

Who are the millenials? This a an interesting post about those people who are young adults as we entered the 21st century. (This would make me a millenial.) Make sure you click on the graphic that’s included and have a look at the data given. From Derek’s Blog.

Great Video – Study Like a Scholar, Scholar This is a clever, funny video about studying – in the library. From Free Technology for Teachers.

Blog posting

Since you have got this far I’m assuming you know what a blog is. But did you know that if you have a blog, you don’t need to log in through a browser (such as Internet Explorer or Firefox) to post on your blog?

I am currently writing this post on Windows Live Writer – a free download from Microsoft. It gives a WYSIWYG editor (what you see is what you get). You can edit your posting just like you would in a word processor. You can add hyperlinks, pictures, tables etc. And you can use pretty much any blog service. I’m currently using WordPress, but I’ve also used Blogger for example. The software guides you through setup and it finds works out automatically what the post will look like on your site – even showing you the background colours or theme of your blog.

You’re not limited to one blog or service either. If you have multiple blogs then you can switch between them and post into each one.

One great advantage of this is that you can start your posts offline, save them, and go back to them when you’re ready. You can then publish the post when you’re ready.

If you’re a blogger then I would definitely recommend software such as this.