Blogs and Sites

This piece of writing is to clear my head. I have so many ideas whorling around that I am forced to take a moment to clarify my thinking. I am not quite sure where I am going with this piece but really wanted to clear my thoughts.

Blogs

The major idea is about transparency. I have been thinking about #EdBlogNZ where New Zealand teachers blogs are curated. For me personally the site has grown into being a reference of New Zealand Education and I often pop in to see current trends happening.

The site does not have everything about education on it, but what it does provide is a window to what is happening in schools nationally.

What I find really interesting about educators who take time from the busyness of the job to reflect on a variety of topics and share their learning is how do others in our profession do justice to the Registered Teachers Practice if they are not curating what they do in such a public way.

I guess I liken it to seeing folders stacked on the teachers table with their appraisal documentation and I state- So what?

The next steps I note is cutsey folders in the cloud with all documentation and again I state – So what? Yes it is digital, but I wonder how findable. I wonder how shared those folders are so that others can see? And yes you can create artefacts that gloss over names and personal data. At the end of the day blogging offers stories and the opportunity to glimpse a snapshot of what is happening that frankly, cannot be seen behind a locked digital or paper folder.

At my school this year we have 12 teachers and out of this 12 we had at least 4 regular bloggers. The others have not updated at all in 2017. Being a blogger myself, I had aimed to up my reflections to one a week, but again tracking back over the year, it was more like one a month.

Here are some interesting facts about EdBlogNZ. Currently there are 174 teachers who blog with 67.2% female and 32.8% male. Under principals there are 31 with over half male at 54.8% and 42.5% female. Under facilitators there are 29 with 79.3% female and 20.7% male. What the site cannot do is archive key words or ideas and in order to dig deeper with this would require accessing each site.

Often I hear school leaders say, oh we have most of our teachers who blog. I have been tracking #EdBlogNZ since March of 2014 so I believe we have built a reasonably accurate picture of reflective practitioners and what I conclude with is there is not nearly enough of educators who share their stories.

I often say to teachers if I cannot see what you do then it does not exist which was something I learned from my Flat Connections certification.

Planning and sites

I have embraced google apps for education for the ease of sharing that the tools have provided. I like the way the apps allows multiple access to the same artefacts that is totally easy to do. For example if a video is stored on youtube, I can link it in Docs, I can embed it into slides, I can embed it into sites and blogger. I can also embed it into wordpress.

When I nosey around planning I am interested in how the planning evolves over time and what tools come to the surface. For example, at my school I have watched one team embrace sheets for planning and have observed how the sheets are continually shifting and evolving as the teachers become much more knowledgeable at how to manipulate the information so that it becomes like a hyperdocument. I really like their use because sheets offer a terms planning using one document and tabs are used to differentiate for the different weeks.

I observe another team using calendar in an advanced way that is like an advanced planning system and the neat idea is this is accessible by the students in the team. This same team also uses sheets to drive the calendar. Yet I can see that calendar is much more efficient and really I believe they are duplicating the workload using both. As they bring in new staff who are new to the collaborative planning ideas, I think they will continue to use both until the new people have used and understand the system.

So the challenge can be when schools insist on one way of doing things and ‘coerce’ all staff to follow a templated way of doing things. Don’t get me wrong. Some items for accountability are non negotiable but I believe that teachers need to show how they are continuously evolving with the tools. We all know how fast these change. For example I am playing in new google sites and have always believed that sites are perfect for curating all manners of artefacts. Yet I struggle to find any teachers at my school who use sites for planning.

I maintain our staff site using Google sites and use it to curate important pieces of information and embed artefacts that aid the running of the school. In our staff site, there are slides, sheets, calendar, folders and docs embedded in a variety of ways.

We began using a staff site in 2014 and each year I duplicate the master site and added the year to the duplicate and then this was archived. Over the past three years the site moved quickly in structure and design. Until the current site worked. So for 2018, I created our staff site using new google sites and used the lessons learned to structure it in such a way that it is much easier to navigate. But am not sure what to do at the end of 2018 when I generally curate the site and restructure it to show our current school trends. New Google sites cannot yet be duplicated.

I look forward to seeing how systems continue to evolve in 2018. I hope to see other tools used for curating, reflecting and for collaboration. It is always exciting when I see teachers and students co construct artefacts for learning. What tools do you use in your work?

 

One thought on “Blogs and Sites

  1. […] With the cloud, teachers started to play with other planning formats and some used sheets or presentations as the tool. Some teachers continued with the doc format as they were able to just upload the word copy and duplicate the process in the cloud. Last year I wrote a post to unpack some of my thinking around blogs and sites and you can read that here. […]

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