I’ll never forget about six weeks ago when three girls came running up to me, telling me about their next genius hour adventure. “We are going to send chocolates to people around the world, so they can taste our chocolate. Then we are going to ask them to send us some chocolate from their country. We can compare the tastes and packages.” So, they were off!
Thanks to some of the students’ friends and relatives, plus members of my awesome PLN, the students have received packages from SouthKorea, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, France, and, the latest, from Australia.
I met Lyn Howlin last year when we completed the teacher’s blogging challenge together. Later my seventh graders hosted her third graders’ Flat Stanleys. Now we’ve been Flickr photo friends and email penpals. She’s now retired, but she’s still a teacher. Look at the beautiful letter she wrote, engaging my students in learning about the world.
Thank you, Lyn!
(Students are still working on their comparison and taste test.)
The 2011 Edublog Awards nominations are open. I’ve really enjoyed writing this post because I’m sure I don’t tell others often enough how they help me. This is the first year that I knew about the awards, so I am happy to add my nominees, for each one helps me to become a better teacher. It was difficult to choose just one nominee for each category. I hope as you read this blog post, you will meet someone new to add to your PLN!
My favorite individual blog is a new one by JoAnn Jacobs. I like blogs that do one thing and do it well. Color Wheel Symphony always makes me ooh and ahhh and smile. It is a place where JoAnn shares her beautiful photography from Hawaii and writes captivating prose to go with it. I always look forward to her posts.
Tracy is a thoughtful blogger, a technology integration specialist, and an encourager through Twitter, where she shares resources and retweets about 21st century learning. More importantly, though, she develops and maintains professional friendships. She thinks of individuals and mentions them by name in a tweet when she knows something is relevant to them. She is warm and friendly, and makes my PLN more human with her sweet tweets and comments.
The international community of English language teachers has an incredible online social network going on. Now they also have a new blog, where teachers share lesson plans to go with their beautiful photography collection. I am not an ELT, but I love reading and learning from these passionate educators. (In fact, their camaraderie has made me more than once think it would be a great field to go into!)
Laura is a new blogger, having just started this past June. She is a passionate educator, clever, creative, and funny. I love reading her posts, for, like me, she is a middle school reading teacher. Everything she has written so far has been helpful to me or thought-provoking, so I continue to go back.
I have a special place in my heart for the Eagles and their teacher Sheri Edwards. This year my students and I have had the privilege of working together with the Eagles. Currently, we are all writing novels together–her class and mine, and Mr. Boylen’s and thousands of other classes. The Eagle writers are geniuses, contributing to the world, and at this blog you can see them in action.
Oh, there are so many to vote for in this category! So many students are stand outs in their classes, and I’m so happy for them to have a worldwide audience. My own students’ blogs are awesome too, but today I nominate Em’s Canvas, which is about the sweetest student blog I’ve seen this year. She’s just five years old, and her mom helps her share her genius with the world.
Nancy has a way of identifying a need (or even anticipating a need) and writing a blog post about it. One of the first posts of hers I remember was last January. It was about a snow day her school had (actually it sounded like most of her state). I was reading it on my own Iowa snow day, and I was having so much fun looking at all the resources for snow day activities she had shared. Since then, she has shared resources about hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and more–many times coinciding with what’s happening in the news. Nancy has vetted all the resources, sharing them just in time for when children start asking questions. As a fourth grade teacher, Nancy also shares many great literacy strategies with her readers. Overall, this is a great resource sharing blog.
I love many Twitter hashtags. In fact, I just counted 21 hashtag columns open on my Tweet Deck. (I wonder how many columns one can have open at a time.) It was not easy choosing the best hashtag, but I wanted to share this one. Last summer I learned about the #eltpics hashtag from Chiew Pang and Sandy Millin. I was involved in a photography challenge for teachers, and they noticed and invited us to participate in #eltpics. (My “thank you” post.) There are over 5,000 Creative Commons licensed photographs for you to use in your classroom, and these aren’t just pictures–they are beautiful artworks from all around the world! You can also contribute your own photos and make it even better. For the last fortnight the theme was parties and celebrations. Starting today, until December 3, folks will be adding pictures to a set called Shadows.
Karla is a passionate and smart drama teacher who is busy building a program all by herself in her NSW, Australia, school. Although I am not involved with high school drama, I do read her posts and learn so much for my junior highers. I also try to bring some of her posts to the attention of our high school drama person. I’m impressed that Karla initiated this blog to build her connections with other drama teachers. She didn’t bemoan the fact that she was the lone drama teacher. Instead, she became a global leader by creating the Drama Teachers Network.
Without Twitter and my new PLN, I would not even have known where to start with nominations for the Edublog Awards. In fact, I hadn’t noticed the Edublog Awards nominations going on in both 2009 and 2010, even though I was already blogging, having created my Edublogs account in October, 2009. Perhaps in 2009 and 2010, I may have read about the nomination process in a blog post, but I didn’t stop to listen. Twitter helps me to listen to important happenings in education. In addition, Twitter revolutionized my world when I allowed my blogging to become a conversation and not just my one-sided posts. Twitter has helped me build my PLN. Since it is a wonderful forum for amplifying important resources, Twitter makes it easy to pay attention to the voices of my PLN.
Yep, I’ve seen all of those things on Kevin’s blog. While participating in the Edublogs teacher challenge last January, I met many wonderful teacher bloggers. Kevin is one of those who was light years ahead of me in using cool media on his blog. He is a musician, writer, poet, artist, and he shares his genius and that of his students with the world. He blogs circles around most of us, so I don’t always keep up with reading all his blog posts. However, there is always a treat when I stop in, and I am sure to learn some tool to make my life easier, more collaborative, more beautiful, or just more fun. Visit! You won’t be sorry! Kevin’s class also has an incredible web page at The Electronic Pencil. Don’t miss it!
Perhaps I’m partial because last summer I attended my first online conference–Reformed Symposium 3, which is my nomination for the best unconference. Thousands of people came together to learn and grow. This conference was inspiring and transforming for me as an educator. How delightful it was to spend unpaid professional development time with so many passionate people who wanted to be there. What a great experience!
A wonderful community of social studies teachers exists online! (Try #sschat on Monday evenings at 7:00 p.m. ET) When I joined Twitter, Greg Kulowiec and Ron Peck were warm, welcoming, and helpful. I have become just a tiny bit involved in #sschat and the corresponding sschatning.com. The #sschat community is much more than just a once a week Twitter chat. Greg, Ron, Susie, Becky and others are connecting, collaborating and contributing, and making others feel welcome. If you are a social studies teacher of any kind, I would highly recommend joining #sschat (or even lurking about, like I still do).
So there you have it. I could go on and on, but I’m going to stop there.
These are my nominations for the 2011 Edublog Awards.
Thanks to all those who have made this past year one of my best teaching years ever!