After reading Weblogs: Learning in Public by Jill Walker, I am further intrigued to see how this blogging phenomenon may be useful to my developing teaching styles and methods and how it may play out in this class with my fellow classmates. My favorite quote from the reading, that I plan to keep in mind throughout this process is, ” [Blogging is…] taking control of your own learning, finding your voice, and expressing your opinions. It’s about responding to the world around you and listening to the responses you receive in return.”
In looking out for some teacher blogs that I find useful, I realized that I already had a couple on my Bookmarks list. I don’t “follow” these regularly or anything, but I have found them interesting when surfing “teacher stuff” in the past. I will use this opportunity to dig a little deeper.
First off: http://www.schoolartsroom.com/
This is a Blogger blog that is hosted by the School Arts magazine editor, who is an experienced teacher herself in all levels from elementary to graduate. I found this because I was being cheap and didn’t want to pay for the magazine subscription and was hoping this blog may be an interesting substitute. (that’s a plus for blogs- they are CHEAP resources. and by cheap i mean FREE).
This blog contains all kinds of blogs and resources for teachers and pre-service teachers. There are some blogs that are personal reflections of teachers- such as the most recent post from a teacher encouraging that students are prompted to find artistic connections to nature. Other posts contain advice, lesson ideas, professional development topics. In the editor’s profile she notes “I am here writing for my like-minded compatriots, aiming to share your world of art education by providing timely art news; entertaining or thought-provoking artists, ideas, stories, and issues; professional opportunities for you; and project and lesson ideas and exhibition possibilities for your students.” I think she does an adequate job here on the blog- especially with the links to other websites and other blogs that she advocates and/or follows.
This blog is from a local teacher in Bowie, MD. I like her site because she seems to keep it updated and her teaching position is unique since she is an “art-on-a-cart” teacher with 3 elementary schools that she teaches at. She posts lessons and pictures of student work which is always helpful. I found this when looking for photos of classroom setup. Since I have no space of my own yet, I like to research ideas. I feel like this blog is most helpful because of all the photos that she includes. Since art is so visual and we as art teachers are likely most easily stimulated by visuals, I think her blog could have wide appeal for art educators and may be why I enjoy the blog so much.
Again, a blog by a female teacher that incorporates lots of photos. BUT I do enjoy looking at this blog more than the last simply because I find the design, layout and colors so much more pleasing. I guess that is definitely something to consider when creating a blog! not only should your writing be relevant, but neon green letters on a black background are not that appealing. also, the labels she provides along the side of her blog make navigating to specifics SO easy. She also encourages interaction and community by posting questions to fellow art teachers- such as “when do you have students dump their dirty paint water during a lesson?’ I love this example b/c it is SO geared towards art educators. No one else would find this questions remotely interesting, yet it’s completely relevant and even important to her audience, making this blog very much geared to a specific audience. She received 11 very involved comments to this post- proving that the question was very engaging to it’s audience.
SO, in conclusion, I believe that there are a few key factors in making a blog useful and helpful for teachers. First, I think that the writer needs to have some kind of credentials in their field, and I think they should make their goal clear in their profiles. I found that blogs that were just labeled “all things art” were just not engaging enough because they didn’t have a clear purpose. I preferred that the person spoke from clear experience and had clear intentions. Second, the layout/format of the blog has a big influence on the page’s “stickiness” or how long I, as a reader choose to spend on their site. A site can only be helpful if people look at it and spend time reading the posts and linking to a blog roll or commenting on posts. If the layout is not user-friendly, you are likely to have users leave your site and not take in any information. Lastly, I think that for teaching specifically- pictures are very helpful. Just because of the nature of art and teaching art, step by step lesson photos and finished student work photos are extremely interesting and helpful.
peace, love and art,
Jill Walker, Dept of Humanistic Informatics, University of Bergen, Norway. Published in On the Horizon, Vol 13, Issue 2, 2005. Pages 112-118.
***UPDATE*** Found a new blog to follow! http://artwithmre.blogspot.com/