In the first blog I read entitled Helyn’s Portfolio (http://hvanstaveren.wordpress.com/), a fourth-year education student from the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada tells her tales of teaching Social Studies and English to 6th graders in rural Saskatchewan. In her blog she makes personal connections between her own life and how she wants to transfer her love for reading and writing over to her students. The blog immediately interested me because she is in the exact same position as myself at this point in her education. She is pursuing her degree in education, while teaching Social Studies in an internship environment, just like me. In addition, her posts also closely parallel this course because she discusses her use of technology in the classroom though formats such as YouTube, blogs, and Twitter. In one blog (http://hvanstaveren.wordpress.com/about-2/), she describes how she set up a Twitter account for her students set from John Steinbeck’s (author of Of Mice and Men) point of view. From there, her students were to send tweets to the account from the perspective of other characters in the novel. The objective in the assignment was to spur on discussion regarding the plot, conflicts, character development, and internal dynamics of the story; a very creative use of technology while still engaging the students in the content.
In the second blog I read entitled Eduvironment (http://eduvironment.com/), a teacher named Ben Duggan examines the ever-changing school environment, and how it can have such a drastic effect on the students that walk through its doors. In his introduction he states, “School environments might not be as important as a good teacher, but I know it makes a difference. If we want to give our kids the best chance to believe in themselves, gain confidence and feel worthy you need a good school environment too.” This basically sums up what he is intending to do through his posts, and shows how he is trying to cause change in any way possible. His posts are simple and to the point. They address ideas to improve the school day including everything from the morning announcements to the overall assessment of the student population. In one blog by Duggan, School Ideas, he suggests that schools do away with the bland and/or piercing sound of the school bell (http://eduvironment.com/2014/01/20/beats-and-bells-improving-the-school-day/). Rather, he says that students can submit their favorite songs and have that particular song play as opposed to the bell. When the students hear the song come on (an approximate 4-minute length between periods), they know they have that amount of time left before they are to arrive to their next classroom. This is just one basic idea of many.
The third blog I read is called My School of Thought (http://myschoolofthought.com/). In it, a woman describes her career as a public school teacher, a private school teacher, a college professor, a private tutor, a home-school teacher, and she even started and administered her own school setting. Her blog is not so much about changing lives, but more so referring to the instructional strategies and techniques that have allowed her to be so successful in the classroom. Her techniques dive into the student learning process and what makes them engaged with the task at hand. Recently she has been putting an emphasis on effective questioning because she feels teachers in today’s school struggle with this concept. In one blog, she analyzes an acronym known as D.E.A.L. that is used to develop critical thinking skills and touch on prior knowledge to answer certain questions (http://myschoolofthought.com/2014/03/26/effective-questioning-part-4-tools-for-questioning-to-promote-exploration-of-ideas/). D is Deal, E is Explain, A is Analyze, and L is Link. The key here is linking because it is critical that the students “link”, make connections, and activate prior knowledge regarding the subject to help them better understand it. Other blogs discuss inspiring creativity and classroom management.