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Professional Development Opportunities With Blogs and Wikis Using 21st Century technology to embrace continual professional development
Sources Article: Education Leadership – February, 2009 Author: Bill Ferriter In response to an article by Richard Elmore – Professor of Educational Leadership; Harvard Elmore reported in 2002 for the Albert Shanker Institute.
Elmore Writes As expectations for increased student performance mounts and the measurement and publication of evidence about performance becomes part of the public discourse about schools, there are few portals through which new knowledge about teaching and learning can enter schools; ……………… so the brutal irony of our present circumstance is that schools are hostile and inhospitable places for learning. They are hostile to the learning of adults and, because of this, they are necessarily hostile to the learning of students. Ferriter Explains: Because we are in a sprint through the day, worried about leaving no child left behind, adult learning is often pushed aside. The few minutes of professional development are spent on silver bullets . Teachers rarely get to self-select learning opportunities pursue meaningful passions, or engage in meaningful discussions on instruction.
Ferriter Writes; What makes professional development so frustrating is most of it comes from the business world. It has little Impact on student learning. But teachers do not challenge the status quo. • A history of poor professional development experiences has left teachers jaded and stagnant, groaning, when given opportunities to learn. • Statements like: • Nothing is going to change • This is how professional development has always been done . Bring a big stack of papers to grade and you will keep busy. • Discipline again (msk) • Why can’t we just work in our rooms. I need to be there (msk)
Two Things Have Changed There is a new emphasis on the importance of collaboration learning among member of close knit teams in schools – opportunities to reflect on instruction together Digital tools now help fulfill fresh portals through which new knowledge about teaching and learning are discussed. Thousands of accomplished educators are now writing blogs about teaching and learning.
What Blogs Are Doing Educators are reflecting on instruction Educators are challenging instruction Questioning policies Offering advice Designing Solutions Most of which is free
Ferriter begins each morning - * # ^ @ > + @ Looking at blogs for 20 minutes, sifting through the thousands of practitioners he might never be able to learn from except for this method of interaction. As one becomes familiar with blog sites, users get faster as their comfort increases. Ferriter stresses the point that the practice of using these sites is not difficult.
Patrick Higgins ( http:// chalkdust101.wordpress.com) This blog emphasizes characteristics of effective professional development Dina Strasser (http:// theline.edublogs.org ) Elements of high quality instruction for middle grade students.
Scott McLeod ( www.dangerouslyerrelevant.org ) Discusses driving school changefrom the system level Nancy Flanagan ( http:// teacherleaders.typepad.com/teacher_in_a_strange_land ) Discusses the connection between education policy and classroom practice.
John Holland ( http:// circle-time.blogspot.com ) and ( http:// inpractice.edublogs.org ) This discusses the challenges of working in high needs communities. Blogs create conversations from all over the United States. Blogs can narrow in on specific discussions
Reading Blogs Expect reactions Grade papers Prepare for class Raising a family
Introducing the Blog Professional Development Phase Investigate where your teachers are with the comfort of using websites. Use an example of an issue that your campus is working through. Go to a blog during a faculty meeting and view comments and writings concerning this issue. Demonstrate the use of participating in these discussions. Alleviate the fears.
Using technology to scan blogs for you Page Flakes ( www.pageflakes.com ) Teachers ( http://teacher.pageflake.com ) These include a grade tracker, task list, and built in writer tutor.
Steps to incorporate blogs into your daily efforts to grow as a professional • Start by using a feed reader as a learning tool. These can locate several blogs that target educators grade level, content area, ect.. • Example: Support Blogging Wiki (http://supportblogging.com Caution: You are about to enter the spin zone. Bloggers should be prepared to agree, disagree, get angry, want to engage in conversations and write their own opinions.
2.Dedicate a few minutes each day to browse the changing content on blog sites. • make comments to authors • engage other readers • Discuss material with others about what you are learning • create discussion groups • present at faculty meetings • steal the good ideas
Express your ideas. develop curriculum and instruction materials • review research and debate its merits • ask about issues troubling yourself or school Additional Blog Services Type pad ( www. typepad.com ) Requires a paid subscription, come with technical support and file storage. Blogger ( www.blogger.com ) It is a free Google based product. Google users only need a username and password to sign in. Edublogs ( www.edublogs.org ) free blogging service that is dedicated to educators.
UsingWikis Are editable web sites Require little technical skill Wiki tool bars look just like a word processing tool bar Designed for collaboration among groups of users The writer is not responsible for an entire selection all by themselves. The writer can reflect with colleagues.
Wiki Sites P B Wiki ( http:// pbwiki.com ) very popular website for educators because it is easy to use. Wikispaces ( www.wikispaces.com ) One of the first wiki services that educators embraced. This site has thousands of spaces to look to for samples. Wet Paint ( www.wetpaint.com ) One of the newest of the websites with an emphasis on tools for collaboration and professional templates.
Summary In an economy that has the legislature asking all agency heads to cut budgets across each program Where time is short and mandate lists for student improvement are long In a stimulus world where it takes stimulants to be stimulated and not become stymied
Summary Administrators are always looking for innovative, cost effective, sustainable, professional development initiatives. Using Blogs and Wikis Assign random groups monthly to research a specific topic and report at monthly faculty meetings Put a specific question out there for feed back to address an issue the school is having Give professional development hours for quality on-line discussion
Summary Use this to discuss instruction techniques, classroom management, and content expansion. Caution Check with your technology support to ensure blog and wiki sites are virus free Remember some blogs are opinionated, learn to analyze what you read before you take it to heart and tell others to take it from you.
About the author Bill Ferriter teaches 6th grade science and social studies in Raleigh, North Carolina and is a Senior Fellow in the Teacher Leaders Network. His blog, The Tempered Radical, is found at : http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical or firstname.lastname@example.org