22 August 2015

Using Blogging to Connect, Learn, & Magnify Teacher Voice

In today’s connected world, teachers no longer go all summer without connecting with each other using social media (Twitter, Voxer, Blogs, Facebook). Rather, teachers learn from their personal learning networks (PLN) year-round. Even with frequent formal and informal connections, let’s consider specifically what we can learn from one another through blogging. Blogs are excellent resources for helping us connect, learn, grow, and magnify our voices.

When the communications/marketing director at my work asked me to write a post about teachers blogging, I initially thought “no problem--I blog, I support bloggers, and I read blogs all the time--I’ll pull this post off in no time at all.” Wrong. What I found is that there are so many blogs I enjoy it was hard to pare it down into the size of one readable blog post about educators blogging. After days of considering my options,  I determined that I would allow myself only four slots under three categories (learn, magnify voice, and connect). The blogs listed below are the ones I return to regularly, and there are many more I could have included. Do you have favorite educator blogs? Please share!

Muir Woods
Sites like this provide inspiration to me as a writer.
What places provide you inspiration?

Blogs for learning

With the editor of this blog (Katherine Schulten) having a long experience in education and regular contributing bloggers being teachers, you can count on the NYT Learning Network blog for daily resources for teaching and learning. You will find lesson plans connected to reading the NYT (valuable for all subject areas), questions for writing and discussion and opportunities to join the conversations by commenting on posts. Personally, I have utilized The New York Times in my work with high school students and college students because the resources are free, the topics are timely, and it’s also a great resource for staying current on issues in our country and world.

For years now I have been following the work of Vicki Davis from Camilla, Georgia. As a leading educator in technology and blogging, you can count on Vicki’s blog for resources on a plethora of topics, especially technology. A few years ago I met Vicki at an education conference and she shared the story of the title of her blog coming from students who thought she was a cool teacher and the school’s mascot were the cats, so her blog became CoolCat Teacher. She’s been all over the world speaking and inspiring fellow educators and she still teaches in South Georgia and shares her expertise with all of us.

Kevin Hodgson writes about technology, digital literacy, jazz, connected educators, and teaching middle schoolers. His posts are witty, informative, and innovative. Read his blog to learn new ideas for teaching students at any grade and be inspired by his level-headed approach to education.

A blog written by Tricia Shelton, a Kentucky teacher and connected educator, offers inspiration for learning and sharing through a lens of science for all students. Tricia engages other teachers as learners exploring the Next Generation Science Standards, and she believes science should be exciting and accessible for all students. I concur.

Blogs for magnifying voices

Another site I’ve followed for years is Getting Smart. Here you find innovative ideas for teaching and learning in blogs written by teachers and journalists alike. All positive ideas for re-imagining learning and sharing the voices of teachers as leaders. Coincidentally, I reconnected with a fellow Piedmont College graduate through his blog on Getting Smart. Our liberal arts college Masters in Teaching program served us well because we both maintain forward thinking ideas for teaching/learning and education reform. Check out all the innovative blogs on Getting Smart and access John’s contributions here.

Teaching Channel started with videos but I’m finding more and more blogs by teachers as another way for teachers to share their ideas about teaching and learning. Sometimes the blogs connect with the videos (another great resource for learning) and sometimes the blogs stand alone on topics relevant to the time of the school year or to issues in public education.

In this popular blog, teacher Pernille Ripp shares thoughts on teaching and student voice. I’ve always believed one of the major reasons teachers should be sharing their voice is because they are some of the best advocates for students. Ripp believes students have the right to raise a ruckus when education being given to them is not working. I couldn’t agree more, and I also believe teachers and parents have the same right. Let’s raise our voices & do so with the tips Ripp offers--with kindness, empathy and persistence. Together, we can make a difference in education.

The blog for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation frequently features teacher bloggers. My personal experiences working with the BMGF and with other teachers across the country working with them have been top notch. They listen. They learn. They support and encourage. They value teachers’ voices as experts in the field of education, and I couldn't agree more. Teachers know what students need to be successful in life.

Blogs for connecting

This teacher generated site hosts information for teachers in Kentucky wishing to connect with one another for optimal student learning. Visit to learn more about professional learning opportunities, to learn about Kentucky teacher blogs, and to add your voice to the change making happening in our state.

LDC provides tools for classroom teachers seeking to ensure students graduate college and career ready. The LDC instructional design system helps us think about the learning experiences we provide for students. LDC’s blog provides updates on information related to the tools and also shares educator perspectives on the usefulness of the tools for improved student learning. If you use the LDC tools or even if you don’t (yet), following the blog provides a great way to learn and stay connected.

Established by a non-profit organization over a decade ago, CTQ created the collaboratory for teachers to blog and connect with one another around topics of interest. Not only do they have the larger collaboratory, they also have smaller groups (called labs). Lab topics range from advocacy to leadership to sharing professional expertise. One of my personal favorites is the lab on Teacher Powered Schools.

Created by teachers for teachers, this service oriented blog offers various services to teachers, including free writing coaching by fellow teacher bloggers. The NBC encourages more teachers to blog and share their perspective on issues in education. Check out the site and start your own blogging journey today!