Friday, December 26, 2008

Felicem Diem Natalem

Mr. B-G's English Blog is officially two years old. Two years isn't a lot of time - it feels like I've been blogging for about five. It's hard to imagine how I taught before this blog, as it's become so entwined in all I do as an educator.

This blog - and the subsequent network it spawned - serves a variety of purposes. This page is a space for me to reflect on my teaching, share the highs and lows of the profession, and network with other tech-savvy educators.

Since its genesis in December of 2006, Mr. B-G's English Blog has been seen by more than 32,500 people from across Massachusetts, the U.S., and the world. A quick look at my sitemeter profile shows recent visits from Osaka, Japan; Gostar, Iran; Rome, Italy; and Schniach, Germany. Closer to home, this site has been viewed by people in Arlington, MA; Princeton, NJ; Jackson, TN; and Los Angeles, CA.

There's been a measurable progression in terms of content and organization over the last two years. Within a few months of this blog's inception, I created a separate page for class handouts and teaching resources, and another dedicated to my journalism class and the newspaper I advise. I then created individual class blog pages where I posted student work.

New for this year was Mr. B-G's Blog Exemplar, a paged designed to help teachers and students create their own blogs. Rather than limiting my students' blogging experiences to individual class blogs that I control, I've taught my kids how to create their own. So far we've used them to post compare/contrast essays and book reviews. In a few weeks, students will publish their own short stories, followed later by an analytical essay on The Old Man and the Sea, original poetry, and Romeo & Juliet editorial columns.

I'll need to take stock at the end of the year to see if my students' writing is, overall, better than that of last year's students. My theory is that publication and greater control over the act of publishing leads to better-written pieces. Certainly the quality of my instruction and the opportunities I provide for peer sharing, editing, and revision have the greatest effect on the caliber of my students' writing, but all things being constant, my hunch is that their writing will be better because they have more ownership and control of its distribution to the masses. The fact that it's really easy to edit and revise the text of a blog post helps too.

It's hard to know what lies in store for Mr. B-G's English Blog in Year 3. While I don't post quite as often as I would like (usually 3 times per month), I do constantly add to my link lists. In addition to a place for writing, these blogs are also online bookmarks accessible to all. While I do use Foxmarks to sync my Firefox bookmarks on any computer I use, it's nice to have many of them saved in a public location for others to check out.

Over time I'd like to provide more opportunities for my students to post writing online. There's no substitute for an authentic audience that's ready and willing to give you feedback on your musings. To me, Web 2.0 tools make the writing process more "real," and give students a unique and powerful forum in which to communicate and learn.

5 comments:

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Happy birthday! I look forward to dropping by more often in the future to read your reflections and to see what kinds of "goodies" you have to share with fellow teachers everywhere.

Mr. B-G said...

Hi California. Thanks. I had been following your saga until you limited access to your blog. Can I send you an e-mail or something to gain clearance? I'm very curious to know how things have turned out for you. Wishing you the best in 2009!

T-Dawg said...

Happy Anniversary, Mr. B-G! I enjoy your blog -- it inspired me to try one of own this past year. I also miss CaliforniaTeacherGuy. If he offers you a way to see his blog again, let me know.
Thanks, T-Dawg

Mr. B-G said...

Hi T-Dawg,

Thanks for stopping by. I checked out your blog - looking good! I also like that pic of you and your dog by the fireside. I do hope that you continue blogging.

If you click on California Teacher Guy's profile, you can access his e-mail address. I just sent him an e-mail asking for permission to read his blog. He granted it.

When I clicked on his blog, I was asked to enter my Google Blogger username and password and bam!, I was in.

I too have really appreciated his honesty about his experiences. It makes for some dramatic reading. It looks like he might have a happy ending.

Happy New Year. I hope your second half of the school year goes well.

T-Dawg said...

Thanks for your help, Mr. B-G. I did hear from CTG. Perhaps you and I will meet at a Writing Project activity someday. Stay tuned for a tech conference we're putting on in the spring.
Peace, T-Dawg