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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Weblogging For School Improvement

I've been reading Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson and am enjoying it immensely. The uses for weblogs that are suggested are some of the same that I had thought of through reflection and reading other blogs, but Will's list also opened my eyes to new possibilities, especially in use by teachers.

The use of weblogs as a tool for teacher professional development makes total sense. I have been following the NECC 2006 Conference through blogs and podcasts of those attending by checking tags at Technorati and HitchHikr and have gained so much even though I was not on-site for the event. It would be sooo easy for our staff to do the same as they attend state, regional or national conferences for their content areas. Many times the school foots the bill for the workshop/conference and the teachers are asked to report back at a staff meeting or in-service day. By asking that the staff weblog about the event, we would have a record of the knowledge gained, a searchable digital source, and staff could recover this resource when it is relevant to their need. Sorry to say, teachers like students, are not motivated to their best effort unless relevance can be shown.

Our school improvement team was approached by a staff member who wanted to act as a "historian" that would record what was accomplished at in-service events, professional development etc... We agreed that this would be a good idea but didn't know how it could really be of applicable value to the entire staff. Now when school starts this fall I will be suggesting that our school improvement historian maintain the record with a weblog that the entire staff can view/comment.

Like many schools, we have monthly department meetings for the core content areas. The department chair could have the meeting and then weblog the information. It would be available to the team members of the department and would be a record of the work done by department members. Archiving of the digital record would allow members to search and refer back to information that was not relevant to them at the time, but has become important to their teaching situation.

Lastly, by having teachers take such an active role in collaboration of information through weblogs, the staff will be providing the students with a model to follow and learn from. When teachers grow, students will know. The experience of learning lasts a lifetime.

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