Tag Archives: blogging

Top 5 Posts of 2014

2014 was the year I finally decided to seriously blog. After reading so many amazing posts from other educators’ blogs on Twitter, I resolved to become brave enough to put my own voice and thoughts out there. I am happy to say that it has been an amazing experience so far. Blogging has been clarifying for my own practice, as well as becoming a way to connect to other educators.

I have to give credit to two people who inspired me to become more serious about blogging in 2014. After some great conversations about the book Digital Leadership during an #educoach chat last spring, Kathy Perret, Julie Bauer, and I met to talk blogging during a Sunday afternoon Google Hangout. Kathy had been blogging for quite some time, and her advice about developing ideas for writing and finding your audience were invaluable. Julie, who was brand new to blogging, helped me feel like I had a partner in this new venture, as we both believed that we had much to say — even though we weren’t quite yet confident about sharing our ideas in such a public way!

When I reflect upon my venture into the blogging world last year, I must admit that it has changed me as an educator. I feel more connected to my colleagues around the world. I feel that I have experience, knowledge, and ideas that other find valuable. I feel more reflective about my own practices as a teacher and instructional coach, making me more aware of my successes and areas for growth.

If you wonder about whether your voice has value, I assure you it does. We need you. Start a blog this year. Top

Without any further ado, here are my five most popular posts from last year.

5. Five “A-Ha’s” from ISTE 2014

ISTE is a huge conference. It was my first time attending, and to say it was a bit overwhelming for me would be a understatement. I decided that reducing what I learned into five take-aways would help me reflect and take action.

4. The Vocab Games: Talk a Mile a Minute/The Pyramid Game

This is a simple post about one of my favorite easy-to-use vocabulary-building activities. Making vocabulary acquisition engaging for students is a passion of mine, and this post was the first in a series of 6 posts about fun vocabulary activities. I also mention how this strategy can make word walls “interactive.”

3. Establishing Partnerships as an Instructional Coach

I received a lot of positive feedback on this post. It seem like there is such a wide variety of preparation that teachers receive when they take on a coaching role. Some have absolutely no knowledge of effective ways to build partnerships with colleagues. I feel passionately that instructional coaching only works through positive partnerships, not pseudo-principal evaluations. This may be my most personal post of the top five.

2.  Five Movement Strategies for the High School Classroom

In my district, we have begun an instructional framework of daily strategies for all classrooms. One of those is movement. It seems that movement in every class every day is a trending topic right now, so I am proud that my district has been “ahead-of-the-curve.” Many colleagues wanted practical ays t incorporate movement in their lessons, so this post recounts five movement strategies that I used or observed during the course of a work week. Just yesterday, an adapted version of this post was published at TeachThought.

1.  4 Ideas for Motivating Adolescent Male Readers

Male readers are struggling across this nation, and many teachers are unsure of what to do. This post combined my own experiences with what research says about male readers in order to promote motivation. I originally posted this piece at ASCD Edge (a great place to post if you would like the potential for wide readership!). Since then, the post was adapted for TeachThought, and it was included in the resources section of NEA’s website.


Reflecting on these five posts, it is apparent that passion drives my most popular (and possibly best?) posts. So, again, I encourage you to write about your passions. Begin your blogging journey.

If you are a brand new or emerging blogger, please share a link to your blog in the comments, so we can learn from you!

Blogging for ASCD

If my blog has seemed a little quiet lately, I have been contributing some posts for ASCD as part of my involvement in their Emerging Leaders program. As part of our program, each Emerging Leader participates in a coaching cohort around a specific topic. I am participating in the Writing for ASCD group. I’m really excited about having this opportunity to grow as a writer.

I have written three pieces for ASCD recently.

My first blog post was written on ASCD EDge, a social network for members. If you are interested in writing a blog post with ASCD, any educator can join EDge.  I tied my post to the Educational Leadership theme for September, “Motivation Matters.”  So far, “Four Reading Motivators for Teenage Boys” has been my most viewed blog post yet!  If you want to share your ideas with other people, ASCD EDge has great potential for reaching a wide audience.

I also had the opportunity to write for the Eight Questions series. ASCD asks each Emerging Leader to answer the same questions in order for members of the ASCD community to learn about our experiences and stances on education. Check out “Eight Questions for Emerging Leader Kenneth McKee.”

ASCD is leading the Educator Professional Development and Learning theme for Connected Educators month, and I was fortunate enough to be able to write a post for the ASCD In Service blog on PLCs. My post, “In it for the Long Haul: Four Strategies for Beginning a Virtual PLC,” explores how educators can establish sustained virtual groups who will help them grow professionally and meet the needs of students.

I will continue to update occasionally to share what I am writing for ASCD, in addition to all of the topics I regularly explore here on my blog.

Please let me know what you think of my posts. Also, please leave links for any blogs that you’ve written that you’d like to share. I learn so much from reading other people’s blogs, and I’m always looking for new ones.

Blogging Blues or Blogging Bliss? – A Few Guidelines for Educators


The following blog post is a re-posting from my shared blog mayerandmckee.blogpsot.com.

Blogs are omnipresent. Many online readers spend about as much (or more) time reading blogs than they spend reading the publications of organizations and news media. As someone who reads quite a bit online, I regularly visit blogs that focus on education, films, fitness, and local news. Reading blogs is REAL, authentic reading in today’s society.

So shouldn’t blogs be used in the classroom?

I must admit that I have little experience with students blogging. Since I have a number of Facebook friends and Twitter followers who work in all facets of education, I asked this question to the Internet ether: “What has your experience been in using blogging with students?”

As you can probably predict, I received a variety of responses.

Many people discussed the advantages of blogging with students. Students who are quiet in traditional classroom discussions find their voices through blogging. Blogs are multi-faceted compared to pencil-and-paper writing. Students can embed Web 2.0 creations using Prezi, Animoto and Voki within the context of their writing. One colleague shared that students’ blogs became their portfolios for his class, eliminating the loss of papers and constant organization that comes with traditional portfolios. Overall, educators talked about increased student engagement that resulted from students having audiences other than the classroom teacher.

Concerns came up as well. Technology issues like spotty wi-fi had turned blogging experiences into debacles. Some educators were concerned that overuse of blogging, which is generally more informal in style, might limit students’ academic writing progress. Assigning blogging for homework is often not an option because some students have limited access to technology in the home. In addition, some students may not have the technology skills to easily begin blogging.

After reading their feedback, I wondered what guidelines might help us, the inexperienced and sometimes intimidated, successfully integrate blogging into our classrooms. After consulting some sources, this is what I found:

1. Be a model for students.

As with almost any new skill or strategy we teach students, it is important for us to model how to blog. You may want to begin your own class blog with information about class activities and homework. Your blog will get students familiar with blogs as well as model the capabilities of using them (Rhode & Richter, 2009). It will also provide you with practical information like the impact of school filtering software and quality of internet connectivity. Students should also have opportunities to read other blogs that they find interesting.

2. Guide students more in the beginning.

Since many students might struggle to spontaneously create content for their blogs, you may want to provide a specific topic when students write their first blogs (Rhode & Richter, 2009). Either technologically-savvy students or you can help students learn the nuances of the blogging platform.

3. Emphasize interaction.

Make sure that you encourage students to comment on one another’s blog posts. You can comment on students’ blogs, too. Students will thrive on writing for real audiences and receiving feedback from their readers (Hobbs, 2011; Rhode & Richter, 2009). Of course, you should model appropriate comments (Edublogs, 2013).

4. Be crystal clear about safety expectations.

Generate a list of all the safety expectations you have for students. For instance, bullying language in comments is unacceptable. Students should not include personal identification information like their last names and home addresses (Edublogs, 2013). Consult your district’s AUP’s, or “acceptable use policies,” to include other safety expectations. Explicitly teach these expectations to students, ask them to sign contracts, post expectations where students will see them, and plan to re-teach your expectations throughout the year (Kline, 2013; VDOE, 2007).

5. Use rubrics to help students meet learning goals.

Although students should be encouraged to blog often about many topics, you may want to use blogging to teach them to write effective hooks, to argue a point, or to present research information. Rubrics help immensely in this area to clarify the learning targets of blogging activities (Hobbs, 2011). Through modeling and guided practice, students can demonstrate their acquired writing skills in blogs. However, remember that you will be assessing the quality of their writing, not necessarily the topics — which brings me to the last guideline.

6. Respect student choice.

Although students will have to follow safety expectations, we should respect their choices in writing topics as they become accustomed to blogging. The power of blogging comes in the authentic activity of being an author. Thus, students should be encouraged to write on a wide variety of topics (Rhode & Richter, 2009). They should not be relegated to teacher-chosen topics every time they blog. Choice will motivate your students.

I hope these guidelines will help you. I plan to use this plan as I integrate more blogging into my instruction. Did one of these ideas resonate with you? Did I forget something? Respond in the comments to continue the conversation!


Edublogs. (2013). Curriculum corner — using blogs with students. Retrieved from http://edublogs.org/curriculum-corner-using-a-blog-with-students/

Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Kline, E. (2013, March 25). Best practices in educational blogging. Retrieved from www.classroom20.com/profiles/blogs/best-practices-in-educational-blogging

Rhode, J. F., & Richter, S. L. (2009, October 16). Blogger beware: Teaching with blogs best practices. Presented at the 2009 SLATE Conference, Chicago, IL.

Virginia Department of Education. (2007, October). Guidelines and resources for internet safety in schools. (2nd ed.). Retrieved from http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/safety_crisis_management/internet_safety/guidelines_resources.pdf

An Open Call to Discuss Blogs and Blogging

As a relative newbie to the blogging world, I wonder how to create conversation among colleagues. Although I have the opportunity to work with colleagues each day, as an instructional coach, much of my work is responsive to their needs. I look at blogging as an opportunity to engage others in my own professional interests and learn from them.

As a blogger, I am still finding my voice and my community. I understand that, like every new endeavor, time and practice make all the difference.

I want to begin a conversation in the comments. Here are a few questions I have:

1. What are your favorite blogs, and why do you return to them?

2. For what reasons do you search out blogs? Practical advice? Inspiration? Research?

3. What advice would you give to aspiring educational bloggers?