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Web 2.0 and School Administrators
Thursday, 16 September 2004
Communicating with Students (and Staff)
Topic: Getting Started
I stumbled across another blog created by a principal. This one comes from J.H. House Elementary School in Conyers, Georgia where principal Joyce Hooper plans to post weekly entries that align with the school's character education program. The blog is accessible to staff and students to read and make comments. It's called Principal's Quest. Take a peek!

Posted by sjbrooks_young at 4:46 PM PDT
Wednesday, 15 September 2004
Another Tip from Tim Lauer
Topic: Getting Started
In addition to the school weblog and personal blog maintained by Tim, he is also blogging the staff bulletin. Teachers are able to read the entries, post questions, and discuss these items online. Tim reports that this blog has saved a great deal of staff meeting time that used to be spent on questions and comments about items in the bulletin. Sounds like a great idea!

Posted by sjbrooks_young at 3:36 PM PDT
Tuesday, 14 September 2004
Blogging Administrators
Topic: Getting Started
Last week Amy Garrett Dikkers suggested several blogs of interest to school administrators. I've visited them all and found that two are the work of school principals. The Butlerville Elementary School weblog was created by Pamela Coates and the Meriwether Lewis Elementary School is maintained by Tim Lauer. I've contacted both principals and each of them reports that the parents are quite pleased with the schools' weblog Web sites. Lauer also send home a print newsletter each week, to keep parents who don't have online access up-to-date, but says it's easy to do because the weblog creates an archive that becomes the foundation of the newsletter. His teachers also post Classroom Notes at least once each week and these entries are also sent home.
Coates' teachers have individual blogs linked to the school's weblog.

Lauer also maintains his own personal blog.

Does anyone out there know of additional examples of blogging administrators?

Posted by sjbrooks_young at 8:22 AM PDT
Sunday, 12 September 2004
Thoughts about Blogs in Classrooms
Topic: Classroom Blogging
I've read several posts about classroom blogging on other blogs. There seems to be a great deal of discussion about whether or not students are blogging the 'right' way. Since classroom blogging is still in its infancy, I find this a curious comment. What is the 'right' way?

I think this is a great opportunity for educators and students to define what's right for them! I also think that it would be useful for folks to review the stages of use identified in the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow and use these stages to help them see where they are and how they want to progress in their use of blogs.

For those of you not familiar with the ACOT study, it was found that teachers progress through five stages of use with a new technology: entry, adoption, adaptation, appropriation, and invention. Page 16 of the PDF linked above provides a brief description of each stage. I'd say that most of us are at entry or adoption right now- learning the basics of blogging ourselves and figuring out how blogs can be used to support traditional instruction. Nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, I don't think it's possible to get to more creative uses without doing this first.

Posted by sjbrooks_young at 10:25 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 12 September 2004 10:27 AM PDT
Saturday, 11 September 2004
Misconceptions about Blogging
Topic: Getting Started
Prior to starting this blog and doing some research, these are some things I thought were true about blogging:

- I thought most bloggers were in their teens and 20s
- I was under the impression that most bloggers made entries at least daily
- I believed that bloggers used this venue to reach a large (read world wide) audience of readers
- I also thought that most blogs were sustained over a long period of time (at least a year)

Now that I've read a wide variety of blogs and sifted through a number of articles and reports, I see that most of what I thought is wrong. I was right about the blogging age group, but that's it! Most of the blogs I've read myself are updated sporatically, if at all. Most seem to have a very targeted audience (e.g., friends, a teacher). And many blogs were less than a year old, based upon archive dates.

I read the Pew Internet and American Life Project report which surveyed American adults and found that just 2% to 7% are have their own blogs and 11% read blogs created by someone else. Hmmm...any wonder administrators may not be embracing this communication form?

Then I read a report published by the Perseus Development Corporation . This document looked at use across all age groups, not just adults, and this was where I saw statistics that supported what I was seeing rather than my preconceptions. According to this report, 91.1% of all blogs are the work of young people aged 13-29. No surprise. But then I read that most blogs reviewed for the survey (66%) had been abandoned- no new entries for at least two months. That's a lot of languishing blogs! And, the average 'active' blogs are updated every two weeks, not daily. Females blog more often than males. Their intended audience is not usually the world at large. They're using the blog to keep their friends up to date. The average blog has a lifespan of 4 months before it's abandoned.

This has me thinking about what we might be trying to accomplish with blogs in schools. While I was feeling a little guilty earlier about suggesting that principals use blogs for mundane tasks such as agenda or bulletin reviews, maybe that's not such a bad idea. It would be a blog for a very specific audience. It would not require daily updates- okay, maybe a high school bulletin would, but then teachers could do their own updating, not the principal. It provides opportunities for users to interact about information they (we hope) care about.

There are also ramifications for how teachers use blogs with students, but I think I'll deal with that tomorrow.

Posted by sjbrooks_young at 4:01 PM PDT
Friday, 10 September 2004
Blog Security
Topic: Blogging Basics
Brian P. Czapla posted a comment asking about security issues and blogs. I've done some research about that. Some blog hosting sites do allow you to set security levels. For example, TypePad offers password protection. Subscription costs for this site run from $4.95/month to $14.95/month. I used Tripod to create this blog. This allowed me to set some limits about who can post and whether or not I wanted to approve every comment. While you can have a free account that includes a blog, it also includes advertising. For $4.95/month you can have an ad-free site and blog. The thing about these sites is that some districts block them.

There are also installed applications such as Movable Type, which used to be free to schools, but now has a one time cost ($39.95 for a classroom up to $999.95 for a site with more than 1000 students) or WordPress, which is free at this time. You can modify these programs to set up all sorts of security, but that means you need to have someone capable of doing that!

One approach I saw in an elementary blog (Mrs. Dudiak's Awesome Readers and Writers) was to have students post using nicknames or initials. Another approach was to have an adult post all entries, but that seems really clunky. Teachers can monitor all entries and comments by using RSS and reading what's being posted- could be time consuming though!

Posted by sjbrooks_young at 4:43 PM PDT
Updated: Friday, 10 September 2004 4:48 PM PDT
Thursday, 9 September 2004
Making this a Community Blog
Topic: Blogging Basics
As I look through the options available to me as administrator of this blog, I see that it's possible for me to grant rights to allow others to post original entries rather than just comment on my postings. If you would like to have your rights bumped up to advanced level, please drop me an email at SJBrooks@aol.com and I'll take care of the rest.

I'd like for this to be a community blog, so I'm eager to add names!

Posted by sjbrooks_young at 9:29 AM PDT
Wednesday, 8 September 2004
Blogs and Purists
Topic: Classroom Blogging
I spent a great deal of time on a ferry today, so had a chance to read several articles and blog entries about classroom blogging that I'd downloaded and printed for the occasion. In an earlier entry this week, I mentioned that I was getting caught up in 'proper' use of blogs as opposed to practical uses for blogs in education.

Based upon what I read, there's some discussion about whether or not most classroom use of blogs is truly blogging in the purist sense. For example, in an entry dated March 29, 2004, Will Richardson posts an entry that asks if students are really blogging?

(Side note: According to the purist definitions I've read, this is now truly a blog entry because I writing a reaction to something I read and provided a link!)

Right now I find myself wondering if it gets kids to read and write, and if it provides an opportunity to share that writing within a community, does it matter whether or not the entries are blogs in the traditional sense? I get the impression that some folks think educators are 'spoiling' blogging through the approaches they're using...

Posted by sjbrooks_young at 5:32 PM PDT
Tuesday, 7 September 2004
Blogging Resources
Topic: Blogging Basics
Amy Garrett Dikkers sent a list of blogging resources that include an informational blog, school online sites that are actually blogs, and general information blogs. Here's her message:

I thought it would be easiest to just send you some links to blogs I know. That way you can post them on your blog as a post rather than them being listed in my comment. Perhaps more people can see them that way.

Information blog

NSBA's BoardBuzz This blog is a great example of the informative type you mentioned in one of your posts.

School blogs

[A lot of school blogs tend to look just like normal websites - to me, it's the interactivity that makes a blog a blog.]

Butlerville Elementary This is a school blog that is a sort of "point of first contact" for school-related information and activities. This one doesn't have too much in the way of interactivity. To me, interactivity is the cornerstone of blogging. (Hence the one person's comment about whether or not blogs need to be comment-based or comment-driven.)


Merriwether Lewis Elementary Another school informative blog - this one is more complex than Butlerville's. There is an article about the blog use at this school at.


Mead High School- School site that seems primarily to be informative, announcement-based.


Delano High School Informative, however offers some interactivity as there is a "discuss" function.


Long Branch Elementary Very basic blog using Blogger - but a good example of how school blogs don't have to be heavy on design.


Kern County Superintendent of Schools Bakersfield, CA


Intel story about blog use at Buckman Arts Magnet Elementary School in Portland, Oregon.


Blogs about blogging (especially in Education)


Rick's blog

Edublog

Weblogg-ed



I have some more information, but rather than overload you (and your readers), I'll stop for now. I've been thinking about blog use in education, especially related to administrators, for quite a while now.



I look forward to continued reading.



Best regards,



Amy Garrett Dikkers




Posted by sjbrooks_young at 7:23 AM PDT
Monday, 6 September 2004
Practical Ideas for Principals
Topic: Personal Blogs
I've read other blogs today until my eyes crossed! It seems that there are several trains of thought about what makes a blog useful. I started getting caught up in the notion that blogs need to be more than an automation of something you'd do anyway and then brought myself up short. I was thinking about John's comments about principals' time (or lack of it) and started wondering what's wrong with automation?

For example, I remember trying to get teachers to contribute items for a staff meeting agenda or helping my office manager gather up and sort out the scraps of paper that had weekly or daily staff bulletin notices. It might have been much easier if we had set up blogs for these tasks. If every staff member was subscribed to the blog and received notices through RSS, s/he could contribute items online and read other postings as well. Then the items would have been in one place and we all would have saved time.

What are some other mundane tasks that could automated?

Posted by sjbrooks_young at 4:21 PM PDT

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