Why blog?

Clearly, you know about blogs (you’re reading one now!)

But while you read blogs, do you yourself blog? Until about a year ago, my answer would have been no.  I had a blog and I dabbled with it, but I was not a serious blogger. I read some people’s blogs and found them interesting, but I wrote maybe one entry per month on my own blog.

One entry per month is not a blog — it’s a newsletter 🙂

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed to put my ideas out there and engage readers. Part of my learning process had to be testing out my ideas for others to comment on.

I started blogging seriously in late January of 2011, when I started following the revolution that was unfolding in Egypt (here’s a link to one of my first real blog posts).

I should also note that my blogging about my teaching got more “real” a few months later, shortly after I made the decision not to sign the contract to return to Cary Academy for the 2011-12 school year so that I could focus on starting a new school.

I know many teachers who do not feel comfortable blogging because if they shared their true thoughts, they could find themselves in trouble with their administration. So they do some quality teaching, but they keep their classroom door closed so nobody finds out that they are deviating from the curriculum and doing actual learning with their students.

Unless you are very secure that you have administrative support, blogging (about some subjects, anyway) can get you in trouble…

But let’s put aside school politics for the moment and think about why students should be blogging. Students at my school, Triangle Learning Community, will blog about what they learn twice a day — once at the end of a two-hour morning session, and once at the end of the day to describe the progress they are making on whatever project they are working on. Plus they will blog about math roughly twice a week.

And I expect they will also be inspired to blog on their own about their own passions.

Why blog so much?

I just read a great piece called Students as Blog Leaders that explains the benefits of student blogging. It’s written by Chris Kennedy, a Canadian superintendent I just learned about from a tweet by my friend Lyn Hilt. Here’s Lyn’s tweet that let me know about Chris’ post:

[For readers who don’t already tweet, the @chrkennedy is Chris Kennedy’s blog name (mine is @SteveG_TLC), and the bit.ly/wSb6oz is the link to his blog.  The symbols #cpchat and #edchat are hashtags — if you want to know what those are, click this link)

[And if you want to know why you should tweet, see my previous posts, titled Why you should use Twitter and To Tweet or Not To Tweet]

Anyway, here’s the quote from Chris’ blog, which Lyn pointed me to on Twitter (thanks Lyn!)

When I read this quote, I was inspired to write this blog post (the bold emphasis belongs to me, not Chris):

I often remind people who are looking in from outside the district with skepticism, envy (or both) at our technology use, the ultimate goal is not to have students blog, it is to have students improve their literacy skills and have the ability to be digital writers, and to do things that would not be possible without the technology.  It is about students creating content to hyperlink to the world, to embed photos and video with text.  It is about students publishing, and then to have the opportunity to receive feedback on their work, review, edit and republish. It is about students producing work not only for their teacher, but for the world. It is about students having their own space to be creative and connect in new ways.  It is, ultimately, about students having greater ownership of their learning.

That’s exactly what it’s about — students taking ownership of their own learning.

That’s why it’s important that, as an educational leader, I model active learning on my blog — which I’ve intentionally named “What I Learned Today.” Students should be around teachers who are learning and growing on a daily basis, and the more transparent we can make the process for students, the better.

And if you read my blog post from yesterday, about how to build (& get feedback from) your learning network, you will see that something else I’ve just modeled here is how I’ve expanded my learning network.

To deconstruct the last half hour or so of my life, one of my teachers and friends, Lyn Hilt, has just introduced me to Chris Kennedy, who I’m now following on Twitter.

Now what I find fascinating is that I’ve never met Lyn in person. We work together online in the PLP Network, and she regularly teaches me through her tweets and her blog, the principal’s posts (she’s the principal of an elementary school in Pennsylvania), but we’ve never met face to face (though we have video-conferenced a few times).

And why did I just decide to follow Chris? Well, let’s look at what happened just now as I clicked his Twitter profile:

He has written nearly 3000 tweets, and there are 3500+ people following him. That’s a strong endorsement. Oh, and he’s a superintendent of schools. Yeah, I’m gonna follow Chris. I expect I’ll learn a lot from him.

By contrast, I’m a Twitter newbie… as of Saturday morning when I’m writing this post, here are my “stats”:

I’ve been Tweeting seriously only in the past few months.  But I’m getting a lot out of Twitter. I’m learning more and more about (and from) Twitter on a regular basis, and I’m using it to build my network so that I can share with — and learn from — people around the world.

And that’s why all of us life-long learners (maybe including parents?) need to blog and tweet and get more transparent about our learning process — because students need to see that the adults in their lives are learning right there with them.

We also need to set aside time to do serious intellectual lifting — reading great books and thoughtful articles (see my blog post about the inter-disciplinary learning that can come from just two paragraphs of a New Yorker article) — but I’m convinced there’s a role for social media. The trick is to balance the two.

Why blog? Here’s one big benefit to blogging: I’ve met a bunch of incredibly cool people over the past year who I never would have met if they had not read my blog.  I look forward to meeting many of these folks in person at Educon 2.4 in Philadelphia at the end of this month.

Why else do I blog? Well, this is my 95th blog post. If I want to refer someone to some of my work, I have a whole portfolio here, and each entry is only a click away.

So if you don’t blog already, give blogging a shot. Take ownership of your learning. Share.  I’m betting you will make some friends along the way.


About Steve Goldberg

I teach students at Research Triangle High School (RTHS) about US History. RTHS is a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning. The blog posts here reflect my own personal views and not those of my employer.
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One Response to Why blog?

  1. cultureofyes says:

    Hi Steve – thanks for the kind words and making the connection. I look forward to sharing your work with all of those in my PLN and hopefully stay connected to the work you are doing. It is great how ideas – not roles or geography govern how we can connect online.

    All the best – Chris

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