Friday, July 9, 2010

Blogger's Cafe Update and Then Some...

First of all, my PLN never ceases to amaze me. I cannot thank all of you enough for the tremendous feedback I have received over, what I thought, was a silly little idea. You have really given me the support to think that this Blogging area in my room could be something truly great.

I wanted to provide everyone that is interested in a few updates since I posted this idea. Over the past few days, Shannon Miller (@shannonmmiller) from Van Meter, IA has connected me with a couple of English Teachers that are interested in working together in some way. I never thought that I would be able to connect my Michigan students with Iowa students. I have no idea exactly what I'll do with this chance yet, but that is ok. The possibilities are truly endless.

I've been talking to some of my friends that teach in the building about my blogging idea and by the end of the night, I have a Math and Science Teacher ready to sign up. Yesterday, I convinced another Science teacher to give it a try. I couldn't be more thrilled! It only takes a few teachers to make a difference in any type of school reform and I seem to have got the ball rolling. I realized that by getting a few teachers on board, we are all going to have to support each other in the early days. It's too easy to give up on blogging and I know I wouldn't be doing it if it weren't for the support of my PLN. Thinking back to how lucky I was to be part of a great group of bloggers organized by Kelly Tenkely, I realized what I needed to do. I need to create a  Blogging Alliance  in my building. (I hope Kelly doesn't mind that I'm borrowing the name.) This way everyone can have the support they need. My brain didn't stop there though. Why stop at teachers supporting other teachers? What about our students?

As blogging teachers, we should encourage our students to read and comment on the blogs of the other teachers. Even though they are not in the class, they should be encouraged to check out what is going on in other subjects. Maybe students would end up commenting and helping younger students. Maybe a student will take an interest in a subject or topic they never thought about. The potential is endless.  English students reading Math Blogs and Math Students reading Science Blogs and so on. I want to create an actual cross-curriculum environment in my school and blogs seem like a natural and easy way to accomplish this task.

I would like to get some Social Studies, Art, and Music teachers blogging on a regular basis. By encouraging other students to check out other blogs, you can start to get students to read and experience different areas of school they might not have encountered otherwise. I still have plenty of work to do on this epic plan, but I thought Math and Science would be the tough sells, but they jumped on first. I'll keep everyone posted on this idea as I flesh it out. I think it could be a big deal. I'm talking Ron Burgundy type of Big Deal. ;-)

I still have tons of things to work out and my Principal is on vacation through next week, so I need to organize my thoughts a bit more. I hope by putting my scatter brained thoughts here, my wonderful PLN will help me make sense of them and offer many wonderful suggestions to make it even better.

People tell me that I've created something cool for the students. I agree that it will be cool, but I cannot take all of the credit for this and other ideas. My PLN has been a wonderful source of inspiration for me during the past 6 months and anything I come up with is based on an #edchat I participated in or a Twitter conversation over a couple of hours. Thanks to all of you that have made the ideas pour out of my head.

I will keep you posted on any further updates and I hopefully will have a couple of my ideas firmed up and posted so I can get your thoughts on them. If you think you might want your students to work with an English, Math or Science Class from Michigan, please do not hesitate to contact me with a comment or through Twitter.

- @TheNerdyTeacher


  1. Nick;

    Great ideas. Although I have blogged for a while, I've been hesitant to bring it into the classroom with my students. After attending ISTE 2010 and have seen so many great ways other teachers are using it, I think that I'm going to try it this year and see how it goes.

    I like that you have been able to recruit other teachers to work along with you on your blogging project. That's what we need is to get more than those who attend a conference like ISTE doing this stuff!

    I'll be looking forward to your tweets and blog updates during the year to see how it all works out.

    Best wishes!

  2. Nick,

    How awesome is this?! What an amazing thing you are doing at your school. It's great to hear that other teachers are so excited. Allowing kids to share their voice online opens up so many doors (challenges as well).

    I'm also excited to start taking blogging to my elementary school this year. We are fortunate enough to get to participate in a pilot where 3-5 grade will all have the ability to write their own blogs. I know all of the teachers won't take to the idea, but if I can find a few in each grade level, I know the excitement will spread.

    Thanks for keeping us in the loop so we can learn from each other in this process as well as support each other. Just like a certain Daniel LaRusso, "you're the best around, nothing's gonna ever keep you down."


  3. Borrow away :) Awesome idea, seriously. If you can pull off a Blogging Alliance within your school between teachers and students it would be huge! I am so looking forward to how this all pans out and develops. Let me know how I can be helpful.
    Stay Classy.

  4. Nick,

    I am so happy to have connect with you at ISTE and now to connect our students & teachers! This is going to be a fun experience for everyone! :)

    I love your idea of implementing a Blogger's Alliance within your school. You are is so important for others within the school environment to be aware of what is happening around them. It creates an atmosphere of sharing, creating, and caring. How can we beat that?

    Last year at Van Meter I encouraged our teachers to create blogs of their own especially when we had so many of our students creating their own blogs. A lot of them were interested but needed a little encouragement and help getting started. I offered after school workshops and was available during the day to help. I invited teachers to my house to sit around the island and create blogs. I even got invited for coffee on Saturday mornings...the free coffee was worth. :)

    Before I knew it, almost half of our teachers were blogging and sharing them with our students, teachers, and community. Our math teacher asked me when I begged her to start, "What am I going to write about? No one wants to read about math!" I told her "Why do you have to write about math? Write about what you are passionate about." And now we have all realized Kim is an amazing writer with so many great views on education and life.

    What you are doing is going to be great Nick! Thanks for being such a valuable part of my PLN.


  5. Nick -

    I am a high school music teacher in Massachusetts, and I am trying to figure out ways to get my kids blogging. I believe kids should be able to write about all sorts of things, and not just in the formulaic way we teach them when prepping them for standardized tests.

    I am not yet sure what this would look like, but I'd love to try. If you, or anyone else here, has any advice, I'm on twitter - @suedensmore - and would gratefully accept some pointers. Or an opportunity to work with a class from another part of the country.

    I respect and admire what you're doing!


  6. @ John - I was hesitant for a while as well, but realized that my job as a teacher is to sometimes make myself uncomfortable to help the kids grow and learn. Good luck on geting it rolling in your school. Feel free to contact me with questions or ideas.

    @ Tim - I'm only the best around because I'm surrounded by the best around. I hope that my idea will be able to spread to the other HS and the other buildings in the district. It would be great to be able connect our to groups of younger students as they explore blogging. That could be really interesting. I'll keep you in the loop as I move forward.

    @ Kelly - Thanks for all of the support you have given me and my blog over the past 7 months. I would not be doing any of this if it were not for your encouragement.

    @ Shannon - Thanks for taking such an active role in connecting Van Meter and Grosse Pointe. We are going to create something amazing and hopefully take it to Philly next June to show the rest of the country the value of what we plan to do.

    @ Sue - Do not hesitate to contact me with ideas about blogging with your students. You might just want to start simple and just have your kids bog what they know about music and use that as a jumping off point to see what their passions are. From there, you can have the kids do just about anything you wanted them to. Find the passion and everything else will be a breeze.

    @ Everyone - Thanks for spreading the word and offering ideas and connections. I'm really excited about moving forward with this project and even more excited about sharing its progress with you. Keep the ideas coming!

  7. Ok, my turn. I had this super awesome idea to get teachers and students blogging in my school a year ago and actually was successful in getting some teachers on board....we were excited! Unfortunately, though I supported their endeavors over and over, these blogs either died off or became strictly personal (ex. look at my kids, I've got a boil on my butt) and these are the reasons/excuses:

    1) We have too much paper work to do in middle school (true) and this is just taking too much time.
    2) We have little to no access to computers in our school (thank you online testing & state surveys!) for kids to blog
    3) Students either won't or can't view the blogs at home
    4)Because of lack of access, we can't make blogging mandatory / assignment / even stress as important

    I am going to try again this year since I have been able to build a new lab and add computers to classrooms....hopefully you won't run into these problems (heads up) For those of you that have, I'm very interested in how you dealt with them!

    Nick, you're an inspiration to a lot of people including myself.....keep up the kick *ss job!

  8. NerdyTeacher,

    I am sooo excited about starting my own blog through Google Blogger so that I can keep my kiddos and parents more up to date along with updating some awesome stuff I have learned from different conferences to my fellow teachers, but now I have read your Blogger's Cafe blogs and I am excited about maybe doing this in my class next year too. My biggest question though is what program/website/whatever would you use? I am going to possibly have access to some more computers next year and they are opening up our wifi to include way more support and way more access next year, even to the kiddos logins, so I think this might be something I could do, just don't know where to start.

    Thanks for your AWESOME BLOGS!!! I just finished my first year of teaching in a very FLAT, very pencil and paper world and next year I want to not have to have my kiddos power down when they walk in my room.

    Thank you again,
    Casey Chapman
    7th Grade Pre-Algebra Teacher
    Rosenberg, TX

  9. I too have been flushing out the classroom blog idea for my sixth graders. One blogger per day, parents encouraged to check it out, hopefully morphing into individual student blogs in the spring. We cover a lot of appropriate use/net-etiquette in the fall. What blog site are you planning to use? We have very protective parents and some students may not be allowed to blog "live". I'm working on my Back to School presentation that will convince them all that safe students are students who know and understand how the internet and social networking works. Thanks for sharing.


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