I’m back…and still a macgirl

This blog has been around for rather a long time. I believe I started it nearly 8 years ago which, in internet years, makes it at least 25. However it hasn’t held the allure in recent years and I have been pondering why. I still love writing and am a lot more prolific on my running blog. I still love teaching and learning, both within and beyond my classroom walls. For some reason, the spark doesn’t seem to carry through to writing about it once I’m at home. And there are lots of reasons for that – some simple and some a lot more complex. Perhaps they should become blog posts of their own. But I digress.

Aspects of my teaching have been revitalised recently by my new purchase – an iPad pro. While I might (thanks to Department policy) be limited to using a PC during school hours, I really am still drawn to Apple and am a macgirl at heart. My new toy is proving this, especially with the addition of an apple pencil which has been a complete game changer. Despite only having had it for a short time, I’m lost without it. Whether I’m at PD, in a meeting, in front of the class or sitting next to a student having a conference, it’s given me a huge range of options I didn’t have before. I promise to elaborate soon – I’m brewing a blog post about how I’m using my iPad to turbo boost assessment and record keeping in my classroom and will publish soon. For tonight, I just wanted to put it out there that, while I didn’t go away, I’m well and truly back. And absolutely still a macgirl 🍎.

Still here

I have been a very sporadic blog author, particularly during the last 12 months. At least, I’ve been sporadic on this blog. My running blog has been coming along very well, if you’re interested 🙂

I started this blog to be a reflective space as well as an area for discussion and debate and it has variously been both of those. Initially, while teaching ICT, it helped me get out into the virtual world and mingle although took a backseat to the sheer volume of work required when I came out of the classroom and into my Leading Teacher role. This year is no different. While I’m still very passionate about both Literacy and 21st Century Learning, I’m also a little shell shocked at the moment with the general ‘aaaargh’ that hits at the start of the year. Perhaps when I feel more on top of things, I’ll blog more? At least that’s a positive way of looking at it – I believe there will come a point when I do actually feel more on top of things.

Also, having just been accepted into the Bastow ‘Leading schools in a digital age’ course, I’m hoping that will be the thing to kick me back to blogging/sharing/participating in the online ed. tech world which I have enjoyed and gained so much from in the past. Here’s to new adventures!

the blogging journey continues…

So, not content to just have this professional outpouring of a blog, I’ve now set up an ICT class blog. I teach Grades Prep, 3/4 and 5/6 and am amazed and proud by the work they create and want to share it with the world. I’m not really sure about the practicalities of that right now but have funnelled my enthusiasm into setting up the blog. Sometimes I miss not having a ‘conventional’ classroom and this is definitely one of those times. I wish I’d discovered blogging as a classroom teacher – the lure of an authentic audience would motivate students so much and I can’t think of a better way to instill the idea of being a ‘global citizen’ than through blogging.

But I shall have to be happy with a slightly watered down version of the student blogging experience – watch this space to see how it goes!

Blogging – why?

On Monday, I’m due to deliver some Professional Development to staff at my school on the topic of blogging. But why?

I know why I blog. I value the opportunity to reflect on things I’ve learnt, things that didn’t work, things that I’ve been reading or things I’m keen to try. I enjoy the dialogue with other educators about these topics and the feedback and ideas I get that help enhance my teaching. I like having an online presence as part of a community of bloggers who share, discuss, debate and dissect. And, like student bloggers, I like having an authentic audience for my writing. It means so much more when you think there is even the smallest chance that someone else might read it. That feeling is so much more powerful when your audience could potentially be from the far flung corners of the globe.

However, they’re my reasons. What are yours? Why do you blog? Why should my colleagues be encouraged to do so? And why should we get our students on board?

Before and after the spring clean

When I first looked at task 3 in the teacher blogging challenge I thought ‘I don’t need to do that’. I’m not a hugely experienced blogger but already had an ‘About me‘ page and didn’t really think much about it’s purpose. I’ll admit now, I was wrong. I’ve amended my profile page a little although it’s still lacking. It’s probably the hardest page to compile – you want to give the world information but not too much. I’ve relaxed my guard a little over the past year of teaching ICT as I’ve come to appreciate that information being in the public domain is really just a fact of 21st century life and something to be actively managed rather than something that should send you screaming into the hills. But secrecy is a hard habit to break and my paranoid tendencies still get in the way. So consider it a work in progress.

Also a work in progress is my ICT links page. I really just wanted to throw on a collection of things I use all the time. As a teacher of Grades Prep to 6, I need resources that are open ended, flexible, reliable and engaging and this page aims to bring together some of the things I’ve discovered (with a lot of help from colleagues on twitter!). It will be added to. Promise!

The final act of ‘cleaning’ that I did was to choose a new theme. It sounds a little vacuous to be worrying about how my blog’s ‘hair and makeup’ look but this is the professional image that I’m putting out there to the world and want it to look it’s best. I think I’m happy with this theme – not too fussy but with room to add personal touches and all the bits that I consider essential. Comments welcome!

What makes an effective blog post?

A task in the teacher blogging challenge asks bloggers to identify an effective blog post and think about the characteristics that make it so. I read a blog post a short while ago that I believe is effective, written by Sylvia Martinez about the tendency to blame new technology for a range of human shortcomings. In this case, it referred to an article which had appeared in the New York Times about children becoming distracted and unable to maintain focus thanks to their addiction to digital devices.

Why is this an effective blog post?

  • It’s well written. It sounds simple but a blog post is a public document wanting to attract readers and it needs to be written in an inviting and accessible way.
  • It stays on topic. Wandering blog posts which never really reach a point are great if you’re needing a good night’s sleep but aren’t good for much else.
  • It says something important. This is a bit of an open concept and is bound to be viewed differently by everyone. I find what Sylvia has to say in this post to be really important but, more importantly, so does Sylvia. If your blog post isn’t something you’re passionate about (or at least very interested in), don’t bother. Tell your cat instead.
  • It has a voice of it’s own. Sylvia brings together references and ideas that she’s encountered but adds in her own thoughts and insights. Blogs (usually) aren’t meant to be impartial and readers expect you to have an opinion. Even better if you make sure you can back it up.
  • It leaves you thinking. The really effective posts I’ve read stick in my head because they make me question myself, my beliefs or my practices. Giving a reader questions to ponder once they’ve digested your post is a good way to generate comment and discussion as well as giving your blog the potential to be an agent of change in others. Powerful stuff.
  • It’s short. If I have to scroll down too far, I give up. If I want depth, I’ll read a book. On that note, I’m off. Don’t want any of you falling asleep…..