Monday, January 31, 2005


Well, I managed to open an account with Bloglines and import all the EVO blogs. It was amazingly easy. Now I will see about commenting and such.

I think that Bloglines will make my life during this course, at least, much easier. I have been trying to look at everyone's blogs at least every couple days. Since so many people aren't posting, it has taken more time to get to the blogs than I spend actually reading the blogs. With Bloglines I will be able to just quickly look and see who has new postings and look just at those blogs. It will be great!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Thinking about blogging and thinking

Having read Will Richardson's article, Thinking Like a Blogger, I am rethinking how I would want to do blogging with my students. Well, maybe not entirely, but a little at least. He talks about the value of blogging as an exercise in critical thinking.

Now, I must preface this by saying that he makes it quite clear that he isn't referring to journaling in an online environment. He considers that journaling rather than blogging, it seems. (My husband was happy to hear that!) He says that the act of going to other websites, looking for articles to link to and comment on, requires critical thinking. And that is why he thinks everyone should blog - at least for some period of time.

So, this got me to thinking about my advanced students. (I have none this semester, so it is thinking that I can't put into practice for awhile, but I am always planning ahead!) I would want to construct blogging assignments that would really capitalize on this aspect of blogging. As we write argumentative papers and summaries and other such academic-type papers, it would be very easy to include specific blogging assignments that would lend themselves to developing critical thinking and also to our specific assignments. At that level, I think I would really want blogging to be more than journaling. Or at least more than just journaling. I have to think about this some more.

Anyway, I thought it was an excellent piece. It really made me think about blogging a little differently. I recommend it to you all.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Looking at some other blogs...

I have looked at some teacher and student blogs, and I am finally, I guess, coming to terms with the variety that exists out there.

The four student blogs that I chose to look at were largely personal. Although one had some discussion of a theme they were working on in class, the others made little mention of studying English. What really struck me about these blogs was the addition of images, skins, etc. They were absolutely beautiful blogs!

The three teacher blogs that I looked at were more class or education oriented, although one had what I would label "personal musings". They had more links than the student blogs but fewer images. They were all attractive blogs, of course.

Taking this new insight and thinking about my own blog, I think that I would tend to do basically what I saw as the pattern here: students doing personal writing and me doing more professional writing. My students, not generally very computer savy, need more practice just using the computer. They need to become more comfortable with it. They have good access to computers and to the Internet, although it is heavily censored by our firewall, so they could make regular posts. I have small classes, so blogging would give students a chance to interact in a different way and with different people, across levels if I wanted.

For myself, I would want a blog in which I could pass on information to the students, record what we do for others to see, etc. I don't think this is the only way I would want to use blogs, but it is the one most directly connected with my classes. I would try to keep it as a class record more than anything else. I think that is the kind of blog that would be most valuable to me right now.

As I am writing this, though, it strikes me as unfair. If I expect my student to make regular posts of their thoughts and activities, then I guess I should, too. So maybe I would have to have a personal blog and a "class" blog. If they let me read about them, then I should let them read about me.

It will be interesting to see what I really do, won't it?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Other blogging options

Because of firewall issues here at school and because all my students live on campus and only have internet access through that firewall, I decided that among the criteria for selecting another blogging site was that it had to be accessible to my students.

I have a livejournal account, but neither that nor Blogger work for my students. As faculty I can access them both from my office, but my students are denied access. So I looked at the wiki and discovered journaspace. I tried it from the computer lab where the students would have access, and it worked. So I decided to look at journalspace as an option for use with my students. I have a blog there at

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Oh cool!

I took some time this morning and figured out how to add links to my blog. It wasn't hard. All it takes is desire and a little time. Of course, once you get started, it may take a lot of time because there is always something else you could add or do. But it is nice to know I did something new, something that wasn't done for me.

One week down...

Well, we are finishing our first week of the EVO blogging session, and I thought I should take a moment to think about it.

I have really enjoyed the opportunity to become acquainted with so many people from all over the world who are interested in the same things I am. I have enjoyed learning from everyone -- even from other beginners like myself. Everyone has something to contribute. It's great!

I have also enjoyed being "forced" to get going with blogging. A "presenter" at an online conference on professional development that I have been involved in for several weeks just asked what is it that gets us to introduce innovation to our classrooms, what kind of professional development. My response was that I usually have to be introduced to it and given a chance to use the technique or tool or whatever until I become comfortable with it before I am willing to try in with my students. At the time, I wasn't thinking about blogging, but I can see the pattern repeating itself here. I am exploring the tool in a group setting that is, to one degree or another, forcing me to keep going. I am already so much more comfortable with it. At the end of 6 weeks, I am sure that I will be ready to use it with my students. And I will keep blogging as a means of professional reflection.

So I would like to thank everyone who is participating in this session, beginners and old pros alike, for allowing me to walk among you for this past week. I am really looking forward to next week!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

What is a blog?

My husband and I were having a discussion this evening about blogging. He has been blogging for a little while now but has been reading blogs regularly for about a year. He says that a blog is a record of things one finds on the web and comments on. When I look at technorati's 100 top blogs (, I see that they are rated on the basis of numbers of links and numbers of sources. This would tend to support his view of blogs.

When I look at Wikipedia's definition of a blog (, though, I see that it includes everything from online diaries to the kind of blogs technorati is talking about to corporate and political blogs.

So my question is this: What is a blog, really? Is it one certain kind of thing or is it open to each person's interpretation? Are there rules that I don't know yet or is it pretty free-form? These are only some of the questions I hope to answer as we move through this course.

What I've learned so far

There are so many things that I have learned so far, but I think one of the most important is the fact that blogging gives us the chance to connect with people in a way that not much else does. As Bogdan wrote in a comment to a previous post of mine, "it feels good to know someone's reading your ramblings, doesn't it?" It really does.

I think that I can already see the possibilitites -- some of them at least -- for blogging in my classes. Individual blogs and group blogs. And it's only the first week! Imagine what I'll be able to do after six!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Learning as we go

I am glad to know that I am not expected to know all about blogging before I start, and yet this is one of the most difficult aspects of it for me. I don't like not knowing, not feeling confident in what I am doing.

I guess this week I have already taken a step toward knowledge. I definitely started with almost nothing! It will be fun to see where this takes me -- and where I can help it take my students!

Starting Out

I started this blog some time ago, but I never posted to it. Now that I am actually looking at blogging for my classes, I guess it is time to get it up and running.

I find that I am unsure about blogging, not how to do it or even how to use it, but more why I would have a blog and who would want to read it. I am a pretty private person, and this seems pretty public! Besides, I am not all that interesting!

At any rate, here I am, trying to start a blog. Wish me luck!