Saturday, February 13, 2010

Running in Place

I have a passion for organizing. Colored paper, highlighters, sticky notes, bins, boxes (labeled) and shelving …these are a few of my favorite things. Why? I like the uniformity, yes, but the real reason is because I am a Type-A personality. I don’t like losing things and I don’t like spending a lot of time finding things.

This is why I’ve jumped into educational social networking with both feet – because it took what I was already doing and supersized it. The promise of cross-referenced searchable, bundled tags lured me to the rim of the social networking vortex like a shiny object lures a fish, but what I found when I got there reached far beyond my expectations.

In Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, Will Richardson explains how to use RSS feeds to serve as alerts when students have updated their blogs. This saves the teacher time in that he/she can review homework entries when they’re submitted without having to search manually for individual student updates (p 77) Using this model, I set up RSS feeds to several of my classmates’ blogs as well as a few professionals in the outside world in hopes of starting my own PLN.

I follow the author of our book, Will Richardson as well as several other edu-techno-junkies. They don’t know it, but they've been helping me with my homework for EDUC 310 and 325 for the last few weeks. They’re also laying the groundwork for my career as a teacher. I’m already gaining valuable insight, tips, and tricks of the trade, and I haven’t even logged any classroom hours yet. Through Google Reader the RSS feeds alert me when one of my classmates or cyber-mentors updates their blogs and then I can participate in a conversation with the author and other readers by posting comments.

Many of my cyber-mentors have links to Delicious which is what I use for my bookmarking cite. I have included Steve Dembo and Will Richardson in my Delicious Network. If I’m searching for a particular tag, “free education software,” for instance, I can limit my search to include only those bookmarks tagged by myself and members of my social network. Assuming that my cyber-mentors are bookmarking judiciously, my search will return a manageable list of worthwhile resources to check out. This saves me time and that makes me happy!

The downside? My role in my social network feels somewhat voyeuristic. I read the blogs of others and search through their bookmarks, but I feel like I have very little to contribute. I have asked a few questions and received a few answers, but I am lacking the feeling of satisfaction that comes from playing the game rather than watching from the sidelines. For now I will continue to rove and collect what I can. In time I know that this will change, but for now I’m all revved up and running in place!

You can visit my Delicious site, my RSS feeds and view my cyber-mentor blogs by clicking on the links at the right. For additional blogs, search for EDUCATION and BLOG under my Delicious bookmarks.


  1. Monica, I totally understand how you feel when it comes to looking at other educators blogs- I feel like I don't have anything valuable to contribute because obviously I have yet to run my own classroom.

    And, I LOVE delicious!

  2. Monica, I agree with what you and Kristen have stated about not being able to contribute, but our lack of experience as educators may actually help a veteran teacher perform better. Since we are the newest generation of teachers, we should and do have new ways of looking and reacting to old principles. This could help an older teacher benefit greatly.

  3. Monica, I must say that I never really associated searching other educator's blogs with highlighters and colored paper (which I also love), but it does make sense. I love how enthusiastic you are about this and honestly I think you are right in that it will benefit you ten fold.

  4. Web tools can definitely help with organization... I found a web tool that acts as an online calendar and a to-do list (kind of like a virtual planner). It alerts the user via email or text message of upcoming events. This is great for people like me who commit themselves to a number of different things... (and lets be honest, all teachers commit themselves to a number of things, whether it be grading, advising, coaching, etc..)
    The web tool is called HipCal. I posted it on the wiki if you want the link :)