#1 The Cool Cat Teacher Blog written by Vicki Davis
Vicki Davis is an award-winning blogger, full-time teacher, IT Director, author, and keynote speaker. I’m amazed at how she wears all of these hats and maintains a blog where she is writing at least three posts a week. She states that her mission is to help teachers become better teachers so that all students can be reached. As I read through her blog, I could tell her intent was to encourage educators and to make them better in their profession. At the top of her blog, she highlights several categories: Teaching, Technology, Education, Inspiration, Social Media, Productivity, and Podcast Episodes. I found myself lost in one of her links to the BAm! Radio Network. There is so much useful information here to benefit teachers. I have never really explored the world of Podcasts; this will be a great resource to use with teachers.
If you need some inspiration, connect to one of her blog posts titled, What To Do When You Fail. Vicki writes so eloquently and pulls in some real life examples of people (herself included) who have persevered through difficult times. I thought her words were powerful, “You lose every race you QUIT. Every single one. You never know – sometimes when you fail and fall down – you end up winning the race you thought you had lost.” The following links connect and support her theme of perseverance.
#2 Learning is Messy: Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Messy! written by Brian Crosby
Brian was an upper elementary teacher for many years and currently facilitates STEM education for teachers in Nevada. I thought that this statement reflects what is contained in the pages of his blog. “Brian believes strongly that providing exciting and motivating hands-on, minds-on experiences, although crucial, is not good enough for our students. They require the time to “Go Deep” and leverage their learning through all aspects of the curriculum including integrated, rigorous language arts, math, art and social studies work.” He posted only three blogs in October and 4 in September, so I wouldn’t say he is writing entries frequently. On his home page he has a blog posted from October 21, you will also find a picture of his book, and links to videos from his Ted Talks and an NBC interview with Brian Williams. He is a very innovative teacher and finds ways to use technology and collaboration to build his students schema and to provide rigor and engagement.
I loved his section, Collaborative Class Blog, you can tell that he is very innovative with his teaching approach. He is using technology with his students. He has his students in Nevada collaborating with students in New York to write a persuasive writing assignment. In Nevada, they are researching and writing from the viewpoint of the Aztecs. In New York, they are researching and writing from the viewpoint of the Spaniards and Cortes. What a great experience to share with others across the United States. He also highlights an award winning
In another assignment, he is journaling his adventure to Cape Canaveral, Florida to see a NASA space shuttle launch. He sends the students pictures and videos by using Flickr. He also embeds a “Read to Learn” assignment in his blog. One assignment he had them read an article and cut and paste important sentences from the text and then rewrite the sentences in their words. On one post, he sends a picture and asks an open-ended question, “What do you think this building is used for?” A great way to get the students to be critical thinkers and a chance to be creative thinkers. He also shares a disappointment when the space shuttle launch had to be cancelled. He turns his disappointment into a writing assignment where the students have to think and write about a time they were disappointed and wouldn’t do or get something that they wanted. The learning posted on his blog is real-life learning with real-life problem solving.
#3 Elementary, My Dear, or Far From It written by Jennifer Orr
After looking at many teachers’ blog sites, I was becoming frustrated, every one of them seemed just to be promoting their Teacher Pay Teachers Products, and then I came across Jennifer Orr’s blog. On her “About Me” page she shares that she is a 1st-grade teacher. If you look further, you will also see that she is an award winning blogger and the recipient of several other awards, Teacher Consultant, College Professor, and contributor to various Podcasts. She freely shares her presentations that she has shared in her speaking engagements, she shares her current reads by using Shelfari, and she has links to other blogs to check out. In her blog, she is sharing her experiences in the classroom to help teachers grow and learn. There is no mission statement or a direct statement of her blog’s purpose, but you can tell that she is sharing to benefit teachers. Some of the Categories at the top of her blog include Assessment Driving Instruction, Meaningful Technology for Young Learners, Supporting Writers and Working With Families. I haven’t seen an emphasis on these topics as I have looked through other blogs. I was intrigued with what I could find on her blog.
One of her categories links to Meaningful Technology for Young Learners. I like her philosophy of using technology. She believes that “young children should be playing, learning, exploring, and interacting in many ways without devices. Therefore, their time using devices should be used well.” She has some great links to technology that she uses. I think it’s a quality list because she has carefully chosen technology that will enhance the learning of her students. I can tell that she makes a concentrated effort to share the learning experiences of her students with their parents. She has the students take pictures and create a class blog. This is written in English and Spanish. That is a great way to foster relationships with her Spanish-speaking families and welcoming them to feel a part of her classroom community. I was not familiar with the site, Unite For Literacy. This site has books on many different topics that children can read, or listen to in their native language. Another site is Toon Book Reader, which has early graphic novels that children can read or listen to in their native language.
Jennifer’s blog posts for October cover a wide range of topics that will teach and cause you to reflect. She talks about testing being a “four letter word”, balancing between high expectations vs. shoving kids forward, she shares her thought-provoking ideas on teaching and using the word “respect”. I was especially interested in her post, “Why I Write #MyVoiceMatters. I was lead to the National Blogging Collaborative. As a new blogger, this site will be most helpful. This is a free site to encourage and support writers – to “write with each other, write independently, write on topics of professional importance, and/or write on topics of personal interest. NBC cultivates and supports the capacity of all educators to use their unique voice to elevate the craft of teaching and learning.”