Task 3: Blogging Begins with Reading

Photo by covs97 at Flickr

Like other Web 2.0 technologies, blogging connects people and ideas. There are, of course, blogs addressing pretty much every topic imaginable: Personal interests and family, education, politics, news, entertainment, arts, culture, sports, lifestyle, hobbies, social causes, technology, business, self-help, etc... As of June 2008, Technorati indexed over 112.8 million weblogs and counting. If you can think of it, someone's most certainly blogging about it.

Blogging is more than writing. Blogging is reading, reflecting, questioning, researching, synthesizing, linking, conversing, teaching, sharing and expressing ideas. Blogging is about writing, but blogging begins with reading.

Discovery Exercise
Explore at least one blog from each of the three sections below. They are intended to give you just a tiny sampling of a few voices and blogging styles (BY NO MEANS EVEN REMOTELY REPRESENTATIVE OF ALL THAT IS OUT THERE!) of teachers and students in the "EduBlogosphere," which is the category encompassing education-related bloggers and blogs. Take some time to read the comments as well, as commenting is one of the most significant aspects of blogging. Next week, you will set up your RSS reader and subscribe to a few blogs that spark your interest.

As you read, consider the following questions (feel free to adapt and expand on any of these or add your own):
What do you notice about the genre of blog writing in general?
(How) is blog reading different from other types of reading? How is it similar?
(How) is blog writing different from other types of writing? How is it similar?
How does commenting contribute to the writing and meaning-making?
Is there a "blogging literacy?" How does blogging affect the way we read and write?
(How) can blogging facilitate learning?

Sample Classroom/Student Blogs -
GTA3 - An interactive learning ecology for students and parents in Jojo's Geometry/Trigonometry/Algebra 3 class.
AP Physics B - Each week half of Martin's class reads through articles on on the Scientific American RSS widget, and post summaries of the articles. Those students that aren't writing are responsible for reading the last week's articles and writing comments on 3 of them.
A Duck with a Blog - a blog about a duck who decided to build her nest on the playground of a K-8 school.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - a class at Woodward Academy studies Foer's novel.
Math 816 - This is an example of a "Scribe Post," as "invented" by calculus teacher Darren Kuropatwa, in which a student (8th grader in this case) reviews the classroom learning for the day or week. The teacher sets guidelines for the quality of work and students who exceed the requirements have an opportunity to be nominated into the "Scribe Hall of Fame."
Extreme Biology - Classroom blog of a high school biology teacher in an Atlanta-area private school. Students post about different topics related to the study of biology. Check out the comments in response to each post.
Patrick's Post- These posts were written by an at-risk fifth grader who struggled with writing and school success in general. Anne Davis shares it as an example of the importance of comments in blogging.

Sample Professional Blogs -
Why I Don’t Assign Homework - There are 240 comments on this post as of 2009. You don't have to read them all - says something about the provocativeness of the post, though!
Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklascth - Kathy Shrock posts thoughts, discoveries, and ideas as she discovers them, mainly on the topic of educational technology.
Mark's EdTechblog - a 3rd grade teacher's thoughts on technology.
EduBlog Insights - Anne Davis, an edublogging pioneer from Georgia State University, has been blogging with elementary school students since 2002. In this post, she enumerates her reasons for blogging with students.
My Technology Education Blog - Sandy Holloman Dennis, an educator in Rockdale County, shares interesting technology tips for the classroom.
The Pithy Python - Natalie's blog about children's books, reading and research

Sample "Just for Fun" Blogs -
The Environmental Blog - A blog about all things green.
Dinner Tonight - A blog filled with delicious 30 minute meals.
Atlanta On The Cheap - a resource for freebies, discounts, and deals in Atlanta.
Said The Gramaphone - a daily sampler of "really good songs" as judged by three Canadian music fans.
Seth's Blog -Seth Godin's blog is full of insights about the social changes wrought by technology and the nature of creativity.
Zen Habits - includes tips for leading a simpler, more peaceful life.
Hyperbole and a Half - a young woman recounts her life's experiences with humor and primitive drawings.


PART 1: Create a blog post in response to the exploratory reading and questions listed above. Feel free to reflect on anything that struck you about the posts themselves itself or the genre of blogging in general. Be sure to include a link to any post(s) you refer to and include "Task 3" in your post title. (NOTE: Because blogs are frequently updated, the "front page" content is always changing. When linking to a blog post, you need to use the Permalink, which is the direct, permanent link to that post.

PART 2: Visit the blogs of another participant in our Pi 2.0 group (listed on the Blogging Help page or within our Google tracking spreadsheet) and contribute a comment in response to one of their posts. Try to include specifics in your comment, relate to your own experiences and even ask questions. Include a link to your own blog in the "website." Early finishers may have to check back later in the week to find blogs to post to.

Stretch Task:
Clean up your blog! If you haven't already, you might want to get rid of some of the "extras" on your page. You can also personalize it by adding your own picture heading, widgets, etc. Also try linking your blog to the other Pi2.0 participants for easy viewing.