Welcome to Week 6!
You did it! Course 2 is just about over. This week, just like last course, will be an opportunity to for you to wrap up all of the work that needs to be completed, and to put finishing touches on your final project for Course 2.
At this point you should have:
- read and completed all readings up to, and including “Week 5″ in Course 2 under “My Courses”
- written 5 blog posts and 5 comments
- continue recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
- continue recording the URL of the comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
- begun your collaborative project for your Course 2 final project – remember each person needs to write an individual project reflection, even if the project work is collaborative.
- reviewed the feedback on your posts and comments in your grading spreadsheet
- completed the application process for SUNY (only if you’re taking COETAIL for SUNY credit) – the deadline for this process is the end of this course.
Google Hangout Coming Up!
Join Shary and Robin for a Google Hangout at this time (for most of us this will be Tuesday, 10 December, but it will still be Monday in the US). You can e-mail Shary for an invite, or leave a comment here. Remember, only 10 people can be on one call at one time, so you might end up creating multiple calls if everyone wants to join in. I will do my best to join you!
Making the most of your blog
As we wrap up Course 2, I’m hoping that you’re starting to become more comfortable with sharing your thinking in this space. Here are a few thoughts I’ve been compiling as I’ve read your blog posts this course, and had conversations with many of you about your blogging.
Building your digital footprint
Your blog is becoming part of your digital footprint – make sure it represents you in the way you want to be represented. I’ve mentioned it before, but a good rule of thumb is to “praise locally and criticize globally“. If you’re frustrated with colleagues, or your school, or even your students, remember that its fairly easy for them to find your words online, so please be kind and careful with the way you represent your feelings. Remember, potential future employers will most likely also have a read through of your blog before they decide to interview you too…
Your blog is for you
As you compose your posts, remember, the writing you do on your blog should be relevant to you – don’t worry about posting the weekly question, or responding directly the question on each week. Those questions are there as prompts for those that need them. If you have something that resonates with you, something you want to share that fits in with the theme of the weekly readings, go for it! Your blog is for you, as much as it is part of this course.
Share your perspective, rather than a summary
Make sure your time writing and reflecting is meaningful for you, rather than seeing it as “answering a question”. Sometimes this is tough because you are learning a bit in isolation, and the only space you have to process your ideas may be here on the blog (which is why it would be great for us to have more Hangouts – anyone interested in hosting?), so it’s tempting to just jot down your thinking about the readings. The problem with this is that everyone in the course is reading the same things, and summarizing the posts may be less interesting as a conversation starter than your thoughts about the readings and how you might implement them.
Bring your classroom to your blogging practice
Over the years, I’ve found that the posts that become the most relevant (both to me as a blogger, and to the participants in COETAIL), are those that are practical. Posts that share how you might be approaching these ideas in your classroom, school, or library. Posts that share student feedback or impressions. Posts that describe how these big ideas impact you, and how you might implement them (rather than re-hashing the big ideas from the articles, which are easily linkable within your posts). Some ways you can make this a habit are to:
- take pictures during lessons (even if you don’t know if you’ll use them or not – that way you have them if you need them).
- tag student samples so they’re easy to find
- screencast or screenshot student work
- test out the strategies from the weekly readings, and get feedback from the students
- share student feedback
Remember your audience
Keeping in mind that your blog is for you and should be relevant to you and your learning, it’s also important to remember the environment that you’re writing in, and the audience for your writing. Blogging is less academic-style writing, and more casual. The idea is to start conversations, and to do that you’ll need to keep in mind that your audience is most likely other teachers, probably primarily international school teachers. As you write, you may want to consider which posts are getting the most responses from outside our cohort, and which posts are resonating with people the most. This may help you find your blogging voice – and it’s ok if your blogging voice is different than other write you do (or have done in the past). Match your tone and style to the format and audience in this space.
As you’re writing, remember to categorize and tag your posts – this is how others will find you, and how you may go back and search your posts in the future. Tags are also a great way to see what others are writing about the same topic. You can always try to search the COETAIL site for tags that are interesting to you to see if you can find some like-minded or interesting COETAILers sharing about the same ideas.
Track who’s reading
Sometimes it feels like no one is reading your blog, but you might be surprised at how many readers you actually have. A good way to find out is to start tracking your viewers. You can install Google Analytics for more advanced tracking, or just a simple clustermap or another type of visual map or stat counter to see where your viewers are from and which posts are capturing their attention and time. Pingbacks are also a great way to see who is writing about you, as is a custom Google alert. All of these strategies can help you be more aware of who is reading and what they’re spending their time on.
Perfect is not the point
I struggle with this myself. I like to read my writing again and again to really make sure it says what I want it to say. Sometimes this goal of the perfect post just means I never end up hitting publish, which is even worse than a slightly-less-than-perfect post because I never get to hear the feedback on my ideas, or I loose the idea or train of thought that was so compelling in the first place, or I miss a chance to document important learning. It’s tough to put your thoughts out there, but please, don’t focus on being perfect, focus on sharing your thinking. This is a learning space, where our ideas and thoughts can grow and change over time – and sometimes that’s the most powerful evidence of our learning that we can find.
What’s working for you?
As you’re finding your blogging mojo, what’s working for you? How have you developed your blogging voice through these first two courses (or previously)? What are you still working on? What’s still challenging? Would love to hear some of your thoughts either here in the comments or on your own blogs!