Best Teacher Blog 2006 Finalists


Please visit the new homepage for The Edublog Awards

I am the Department Head of Mathematics at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute, a grade 9-12 (students aged 14 years to 18+) high school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. A Difference is my personal professional blog where I explore the meaningful and concrete pedagogical applications of the read/write web in my classroom. The first post I ever wrote, Why “A Difference”, explains the name. There are over 1000 students at our school which is probably the most multicultural school in the province. One of the teachers at our school estimated that our students collectively speak over 50 different languages.

I think of A Difference as my laboratory where I play with new technologies and tools before trying them out in my classroom. I have a separate blog for each of my classes. The currently active class blogs are Pre-Cal 30S (Fall ‘06), Pre-Cal 40S (Fall ‘06) and AP Calculus AB (2006-07). I also use A Difference as a place to engage other teachers from around the world in a dialogue about teaching and learning in a continual effort to improve what I do each day in my classroom.

Doug Noon: Borderland is a place where I can explore the contradictions I find working with kids in an institutional setting, helping them develop an awareness of who they are in a world that is changing more rapidly than anyone can understand. The name for the blog was inspired by my interest in the notion of peripheral participation and situated learning. I teach at Denali Elementary, a school in Fairbanks, Alaska, which is pretty far out on the global periphery. If the world has edges, we’re on one. Our school has a racially diverse student population of about 400 kids. I work with 9 and 10 year-old students, and my primary focus is on language and literacy. We’ve been publishing student writing in a classroom writing project called Tell the Raven for nearly a year. My blogging manifesto may provide more of an idea of what the Borderland blog is about.

Vicki Davis is a teacher and technology administrator at Westwood Schools in Camilla, Georgia.

I created the Cool Cat Teacher blog to document and share my learning with other teachers and to learn from them. As a former businesswoman, I believe that teaching is a noble calling and that teachers need encouragement and practical advice. I also believe that teachers should blog in order to promote a better exchange of best practices. I teach keyboarding, computer applications, and computer science to students aged 10-18. Prior to teaching in the classroom, I taught professional development technology integration courses for teachers. I am known for my award winning class wiki, wiki-centric classroom structure, and use of broad scope of Web 2.0 tools to improve student performance. She is a co-founder of the Women of Web 2 and co host of the Wow2 skypecast.

Teresa Almeida d’Eça: I am an English teacher in a state middle school in the greater Lisbon area, in Portugal. I’ve been teaching at Escola de Sto. António - Parede for 10 years.

This blog, which started in the 2005-06 school year, is aimed at 5th and 6th graders in their first and second year of English. Their age range is 9 to 11.

The main collaborators in this blog are my three 6th grade classes: 6C, 6D and 6E. There are 70 students altogether. They have been with me since last year in the 5th grade. And as regular and very helpful co-collaborators I have friends and colleagues from all over the world who belong to the Webheads in Action, an online community of practice I’ve been with for 5 years. They come from such countries as Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, the United States, Canada, Portugal, Sweden, Italy, Sudan and Australia, among others, which shows what a great advantage belonging to a CoP is for this type of collaboration.

The aim is for students to practice the language they learn in class freely outside of class and, at the same time, open up horizons by communicating with teachers and peers from all corners of the world about the work and fun activities they carry out.

It is great to be nominated for the award. I am a university teacher with strong interest in many kinds of technologies for learning. You can get more details about my work from http://www.learnactivity.com/ . I started this blog in order to provide improved support for students in my class. Rather than using learning management system to support learning as it was my practice before, I organized blog-based environment where students were accessing course material, posting reflections, featuring artifacts created through the learning tasks, commenting and critiquing each others work, and otherwise participated on regular basis throughout the semester.

The blog environments contained connected community of interlinked blogs belonging to individual students (please visit their blogs to see how that add dynamics to our community). In addition to the blogs, I also collected data from a questionnaire, interviews with small selected number of students and the end of the course evaluation focusing of the course and the facilitator effectiveness. Overall, results demonstrated exceptional capacity of blogs to provide advanced learning environment.

Teaching Generation Z was created in mid 2005 as my first foray into the realm of blogging. I thought it would be a great way to document my work and maybe get to make some connections to other like minded teachers out there in cyberspace somewhere. I could never have imagined where this blog has taken me in terms of professional learning and networking with so many other amazing educators. This blog has been my gateway to other sectors of education, radical and challenging thinkers, inspiring ideas and new, unique opportunities, all without leaving the comfort of suburban Adelaide! I like to think I cover a broad range of technology and education related topics, all with a uniquely Aussie perspective. So if you have ever read one of my posts, left me a comment, remixed some of my words, encouraged me to take up an opportunity, added me to your skype list or blogroll - then this nomination has as much to do with you.Teacher

Please visit the new homepage for The Edublog Awards

6 comments

  1. Al Upton Dec 9

    Hi Josie and James

    1)Thanks for all your efforts. Is there some way you can help us link up with more blogs in each category - beyond those put up here on a pedestal based on those who chose to nominate? Although deserved in the parameters of these awards, do you know of a similar service/site that lists a greater number of blogs and links to their successful contributions to student learning? I’m particularly interested in class blogs for a site I’m setting up for next year http://connect.edublogs.org/ I’m keen to help South Australian classes connecting locally and globally.

    2) Is this category for class blogs? - The blog is used with students eg http://adifference.blogspot.com/ (I diplomatically took the top of an excellent group)

    or used for the teacher’s personal reflection, sharing and professional learning eg http://www.gwegner.edublogs.org/ (I deliberately took the one close to home where I’ve been part of it’s journey. Congratulations Graham!) :)

    Both are excellent blogs but distinctly different - but what IS a teacher blog? Cheers, Al

  2. Al Upton Dec 9

    Hi, having left a comment I am now unable to vote. I am waiting until I hear back from you anyway but was surprised by the ‘Thanks for Voting’ when I hadn’t :)
    BTW I didn’t properly acknowledge the blogs in my comment above - they are ‘A Difference’ - Darren Kuropatwa and ‘Teaching Generation Z’ - Graham Wegner

  3. Josie Fraser Dec 9

    Hi Al, thanks for the comments.

    As you noted, the function of the awards is to provide a snapshot of the kinds of blogging going on under the category headings - I’m keen to not subscribe what qualifies and what doesn’t, but leave it to the blogging community to nominate how they see fit. This, combined with the fact that there are now so many great blogs and so many ways of blogging means that the finalists are likely to be pretty eclectic. Each of the categories here could justifiably have its own awards programme – there’s also room for plenty more categories. However, there are only so many hours in the day!

    I love how this awards programme is non-commercial and community based – but there are drawbacks as well as benefits to taking this independent and self-resourced approach. I’m using surveymonkey for the awards this year, although pollmonkey, which we used last year, turns out to have caused less problems.

    I am hoping to set up a committee to take over the running of the awards for next year – please do let me know if you (or anyone else reading this) are interested in and has the time to volunteer!

    There are a bunch of edublogger directory type resources about, for example http://educational.blogs.com/, the international edublogger frappr map and the UK based directory I am working on. I’m hopeful that others will leave pointers to similar resources here for you too!

  4. Al Upton Dec 10

    Hi Josie,

    yes of course I am happy to volunteer input (and any available time) into the selection processes for next year’s new look EduBlog Awards. I hope ‘a committee to take over’ doesn’t suggest that all your valuable energies, time and skills won’t be available!

    I have a particular interest in a ‘Class Blogs’ category.
    In 2007 I will continue to develop an increased profile and connectedness of these blogs.
    http://connect.edublogs.org/ starts at the local level (South Australia - ALL blogs are scarce) where I intend to raise awarness and increase the visibility and accessibility of class blogs. This could be designed to present a wider spectrum of the blogs (countries, year levels etc) which in turn could better facilitate exploration, inspiration, evaluation, connection and choice. In fact I might have to limit putting up my hand just for that category :)

    Thanks for your link in response to my request for lists of class blogs. I’ve added it to
    http://connect.edublogs.org/blog/class-blogs-world/
    Any and all suggestions are appreciated.

    Let me know when thinking for next year’s awards start.
    Cheers, Al

  5. Josie Fraser Dec 10

    Hi Al - Huge thanks for the reply and the generous offer! I’m thinking that a more effective administrative structure for the awards would be to have one person take responsibility for each category, and for all the category leaders to pool their ideas and expertise in delivering the awards. This way we would make the commitment manageable as well as ensuring the awards are professionally delivered. Certainly not thinking of walking away from my involvement to date – it’s been too much fun!

  6. jeff siniscalchi Dec 19

    First, I have to let you know that I am not an educator. How I came upon Borderlund, was through a teacher friend, whom, after reading over their shoulder, I soon took over the computer. I was totally fascinated by the Borderlund website. I especially entralled by the topic of the use of technology and how to use it in the schools. I intend of visiting this site often. Someone tell please let Mr. Noon know what a great job he is doing!

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