How can we use blogs as fertile fields for ideation?
I do believe that my thinking helps to push that of others. Sometimes in the way they agree, and sometimes when people disagree. Opinions and ideas are often formed in what people read and how they connect to it.- George Couros
I love blogging. But that isn’t to say I’ve integrated it flawlessly. I’ve abandoned blogs, started fresh in new spaces, and devoutly followed in the steps of other bloggers. If you are looking for reasons why students should blog, click here. If you want to be convinced that you the educator should be blogging, click here or here.
This post will focus on the applications for blogging once you’ve started. This post might help you revamp your blog, or it might provide you with a few new approaches to learning in the great wide open. Before we sample that menu, I’d invite you to listen to what some of my former students and colleagues had to say about blogging (just 5 months into the process):
You have all the innovation you need right there in your room” John Spencer (full video here)
1. Map out your menu
Be sure to include options for a wide variety of thinkers. Here is a sample menu for an English class:
2. Be adaptable:
Remember that we are teaching learners how to engage with a hyper-connected world (more on that here).
Remember that posts are containers. Sometimes my posts contain podcasts. Sometimes they curate tweets. Veer off script, test, trial, experiment.
3. Start and continue conversations:
Connected learning is about linking ideas, and seeing our community as one that values bridges. A good post will connect us back to learning as well as connect us forward to applications, inquiry, or others. Posts will formulate questions, and invite more learning in.
Here’s a sample comment a 9th grade student left on a 10th grade student’s blogpost:
4. Embrace the chaos:
“Failure counts as done. So do mistakes,” says The Done Manifesto.
Posts can be lists of questions, a curation of post it notes, or a single image looking for someone to ‘see, think, wonderfy’ it.
“Human beings are collectors,” says Austin Kleon in this talk, “…an artist’s job is to collect things.” Use the blog as a means to preserve ideas, half-formed, partially-formed, fully formed. As I type, I’m doing just that. This post is an example of imperfection. When I click ‘publish,’ I will share it with my PLN on Twitter and ask for help.
5. Commenting is an art:
If we learn to see ourselves all as ‘idea coaches,’ and to remember that each comment left on a post is an opportunity to encourage, support, or tease thinking out, we need to make the time to learn how to go about commenting a little bit better. The art of commenting is every bit as important as the art of blogging.
Have a look at this comment left by a 9th grader on this post:
While you may want to develop your own commenting protocols (here’s mine), a good simple guide is to have students think over these ‘thinking moves,’ as a provocation for commenting.
Thinking Moves for Blog commenting – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;
Has this post planted a seed in your idea garden?
If it has, tell us about it in the comment section below.
You should absolutely continue blogging; especially if you are changing your role. It is great for reflection and growth; it is a wonderful way to catalog your own learning; plus, it serves as away to remember all of the material you have created.
After working on blogs as portfolios with my primary school teachers for over a year now, I can verify that it is indeed THE one most powerful thing we’ve done. It’s had the most impact and also increased the teacher’s use of technology. Not tech for the sake of it, but rather having great conversations about which tech will help their students best document learning. It’s been awesome. It’s a journey. Each teacher/student is at a different point, but as a school we’re all on the road and supporting each other through the process.
If I had to add to/support your list above, I’d say our keys to success have been:
-Value–all parties need to value the process and buy in
-Owenership: give the students as much ownership as possible about what they write about, post, share–guide them
-Authentic Audience: comments, sharing, subscribing, quad-blogging, etc. No one likes to write to ‘the nothing’!
-Ease of use–if people can’t use the system easily and without tons of obstacles, they won’t use it.
Great post! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you SO much for your feedback–the value piece is very true, and often the hardest (most time consuming). Ever teacher I’ve ever worked with who has taken the leap and started their own blog has been able to ‘get’ that value piece in a uniquely powerful way. I wonder if schools/admin have a role to play in making sure there is that time for teacher reflection/learning curation…?
Just reading this post after the L2 chat.
I like your idea of posts as containers–to be filled with whatever feels appropriate for the topic/mood, etc.
I do find it hard myself to move away from the narrative style…but Coetail–and reading your blog have certainly helped inspire change!
The video with your former colleagues was informative and eye opening. Yes, hitting that publish button is a vulnerable experience–more teachers should go through that experience in order to really ‘get it.’
It was also nice to hear Kimberly’s feedback, too. In our implementation of blogging/eportfolios, I have been finding similar things about buy-in, ease of use, authentic audience, etc.
Thanks again for your ‘idea coaching!’