It has only been the last few weeks that I have begun to feel as though I am a card-carrying member of the (edu)blogging community. For whatever time I had ceded while I studied French and creative writing, running track in the Deep South and moonlighting as an amateur rock critic, I have since made up in these first few years of teaching, and feel at the center of something larger than myself in the democratization of information. Nothing more than an experiment initially – unsure if I would want to create such a public forum for my daily musings and classroom experiments – this blog has provided a space for professional reflection, growth and contribution to the global whole of educational discourse. Even if only the average dozen or so people are aware of this page on any daily basis, on some days it is over a hundred ranging through every continent – a staggering prospect – and one voice from my corner of the world is lent to this global chorus. I am humbled to be included in the nominations process of these awards, and proudly contribute these candidates to the proceedings:
Best individual blog
Dave Truss’ Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts – I am a big fan of Dave Truss’, and not only because he encouraged my school’s English department to start blogging, and offered this blog its first encouraging comments. But because he writes fantastic pieces like his Remembrance Day Two Wolves post that is based in the philosophy of moral conduct and yet told through a tale of modern travel and warfare, framed in age-old mythology. Of late, Dave’s blog has been a place to gather reports of his family’s adventures abroad as they explore China in jpg’s and even his daughters’ blogging.
Best individual tweeter
Alec Couros – I believe that Alec Couros wears some sort of futuristic eye-patch which allows him to scroll through Tweetdeck columns while engaging in his everyday jobs of (tenured yet?) Professor of educational technology & media at the University of Regina, speaker and consultant who travels (seemingly) constantly, and doting father of three. Seriously: if there is something worth seeing being posted on the Internet, Alec will have posted it within twenty four hours. He is what is meant by online presence though, for more than videos of forklift-drivers demolishing warehouses, as Alec acts as a conduit for those new to Twitter to access the educational community at large, and is a vibrant supporter of student (and teacher) blogging in comments and RT’s.
Best group blog
The Fischbowl – In the past two years I have visited Karl Fisch and Arapahoe High School‘s Fischbowl many times to gather insights on developing technologies, as well as global initiatives and innovative lesson plans and resources like This I BelieveGoes Global, Senior’s Last Lecture Series, and the Did you know videos. Karl maintains the hub of the Arapahoe community of blogs, and provides a portal into the wonders of a school on the cutting edge.
Best new blog
TeachPaperless – I’m not sure if he counts as a “new” blogger or not, but if I am mistaken in thinking that Shelly Blake Plock has been doing this a while, it is because of his prolific approach to all things technologically-educational. Whether it’s posting every day – as he has done since May – or hosting a weekly ed-chat on Friday mornings, Shelly shares his ideas about education across a variety of channels, including Twitter, and with both high school and university students. Always provocative and a hub of conversation, Shelly and TeachPaperless are on the front lines in establishing a new paradigm in education.
Best class blog
Huzzah! – Neighbors of ours – via Vancouver Island – are the TALONS’ younger contemporaries in Jan Smith’s grade five-six class, who each make daring contributions to a class blog that should be a required model for establishing a globally connected classroom.
Best student blog
TalonsKatie – Admittedly, we have not been at this blogging business very long. But in a short time, Katie has proven herself to be a valued member of our class’ community, both online and within room 204, who is a frequent contributor to her classmates’ comments, and posts, and who has seen success accessing experts on a global scale. With an ability to reflect and innovate in creating both individual and group projects and assignments, Katie shares a vibrant record of her learning via her blog.
My Life as a Foreign Exchange Student – My school’s valedictorian last year has continued her education in Japan, and blogs frequently about her classes, band, and host families, as well as a good deal on various waves of culture shock and appreciation.
Best resource sharing blog
Free Technology for Teachers – Richard Byrne won this award last year, and though I would like to try to and shine light where it hasn’t yet been afforded, no other blog in my RSS feeds come close to offering the (revlevant, ready to use) tools and resources his site does. On the second anniversary of Free Technology for teachers, these statistics tend to agree with me:
Two years ago: no subscribers, no page views.
18 Months ago: 200 subscribers, 10,000 page views/ month.
12 Months ago: 1500 subscribers, 30,000 page views/month.
6 Months ago: 8500 subscribers, 80,000 page views/ month.
Today: 14,000+ subscribers, 120,000 page views/ month.
Best teacher blog
Andrew B. Watt’s Blog – As a fellow classroom teacher who makes frequent practice in sharing his lessons, musings and conversations with the blogosphere, I have drawn great inspiration and energy from Andrew since having been introduced to his blog via – as you might have suspected – another candidate mentioned in this post:
Watt is the Jon Krakauer of the new paradigm in education. He’s a writer who sees both the beauty and the danger inherent in our expedition into the digital mountain ranges. He’s honest and and critical and he writes about this stuff with a poet’s knack for succinct detail. Strongly recommended.
Best educational wiki
Universal Designs for Learning Tech Tool Kit – New to Wikis myself, I have gathered a great deal of practical knowledge and resources from the UDL toolkit (not to mention some great ideas for design and layout!).