How to Get Something out of Education Blogs

Though I have been blogging about education for almost two years, I still do not flatter myself with the notion that I’m an expert; however, in those two years of blogging and reading others’ blogs, I have learned a few things that I think make the experience better for everyone, whether you blog yourself or not.

How to Find Blogs

The best method I have found to find blogs that you like is to check out blogrolls. Most bloggers keep a blogroll, or list of blogs they link to, in a sidebar to the left or right of the text on their own blog. If you find a blog you like, chances are you might like some of the blogs listed in their blogroll.

Another good method for finding good education blogs is to visit the Carnival of Education every week. EdWonk’s blog is the home of the Carnival of Education, but he has encouraged other bloggers to host it on many occasions.

Read Blogs Written by Teachers in Your Field

Two years ago, I would have to say that the edublogosphere was somewhat dominated by English teachers. It is, I suppose, our natural inclination to write, so that is perhaps not surprising. Today, however, bloggers can be found in every discipline, whether K-12 (elementary, middle, and secondary) or college, math, history, English, foreign language, social studies, science, and more.

I would encourage educators to read a few blogs written by someone who teaches the same subject matter for the same reason that we all have departments and department meetings in our own buildings — we share ideas with one another and our shared subject matter means we will be teaching the same things, more or less, so we would do well to listen to one another.

But Don’t Neglect Blogs Outside Your Subject Matter

Just because the blogger teaches science and you teach history doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from his or her blog. Whether it’s commiserating over the teaching craft and the shared hurdles all teachers face or just branching out and learning how someone else approaches his/her subject, you can learn a lot from bloggers outside your subject.

Engage in the Conversation

Don’t be afraid to leave comments and ask questions. If a teacher describes a lesson that you want to try, but you’re not sure you understood all the particulars and want more information, just ask! I think edubloggers as a whole enjoy the conversation on their blogs. At the same time, if you disagree with an edublogger, go ahead and say so, but stay within the bounds of civil discourse, or the blogger won’t listen to you. I know I wouldn’t. Would you?

Don’t Worry Over Bloggers You Don’t Like

Time for me to fess up. Two prominent edubloggers get on my last nerve, as they say here in the South, so I don’t make myself more furious by reading their blogs, even if they link to me. I won’t go so far as to link them or tell you who they are. If you have a blog, don’t feel compelled to link to or read bloggers you don’t like just because other bloggers do. This bit of advice might seem like a big no-brainer, but I can remember actually reading the blogs of these two edubloggers I don’t like for some time, my dislike intensifying all the time, just because I was sure I was missing something since everyone else linked them. With all the choices available today, trust me, you’re not missing anything.

Use an RSS Aggregator

I mentioned using RSS aggregators or feed readers in a previous post, and won’t rehash all of that here, but suffice it to say it will make it easier for you to keep up with your favorite blogs.

Try Technorati

If you’re looking for posts on a certain subject, you can discover new blogs through Technorati. You can search for certain tags. For instance, let’s say you want to read about Geoffrey Chaucer. You can search for Geoffrey Chaucer at Technorati and find out what bloggers are saying about Chaucer. You might run into lesson plans, comments from readers about Chaucer’s works, or even Chaucer’s own blog, but the point is that you will most likely find interesting blogs through Technorati.

Follow the Links

Bloggers link to sites within their posts for a reason — whatever they linked to will help you get more out of their posts. Again, this might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t bother to check out the links.

Try Del.icio.us

Del.icio.us is an online bookmarking system. In the early days of Firefox, I noticed that my bookmarks would mysteriously disappear every once in a while. I love Firefox, but I hated having to find my links again. Plus, I didn’t have the same links saved on my work and home computers, so I sometimes got confused looking for sites. Del.icio.us solved all of that. I have all my favorite links stored at del.icio.us. Try browsing del.icio.us for education links, and you will find some great new blogs. If you find a del.icio.us user with a real knack for finding great education websites, you can subscribe to the RSS feed for their education tag and be notified when they add new links.

[tags]education, blogs, RSS, del.icio.us, Technorati[/tags]

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10 thoughts on “How to Get Something out of Education Blogs

  1. I agree, especially about reading blogs written by teachers in the field. There are, in fact, lots of researchers/academicians, etc. that have blogs, not just teachers. That is really really useful.

  2. I've been reading your blog for the last few months and have gotten a lot out of it, thanks! Re: your disappearing bookmarks: I had the same problem with working from home or school or elsewhere. I installed foxmarks (http://www.foxmarks.com/) and have been pretty happy with it. It's a great tool for those of us who work with multiple computers.

  3. You have incredible timing on your post. I have been following your blog and a few others that I enjoy, trying to decide/learn how to create my own blog for next year, (I will be a first year teacher). I just got some web space and created a frame this past weekend. This post couldn't have come at a better time – thank you!

  4. Dana,

    This is very straight forward, compact and solid advice. I'll be passing this post along to some newbies that I'm working with.

    Your statement about not bothering with folks that don't do it for you or get on your nerves is a good reminder. I find I sometimes get caught up in the "If everyone else is reading him/her, then I must be missing something," line of thinking, too. Why waste my time?

  5. Thank you, Larissa, Amanda, and Bud. I am glad it was useful. And I wanted to add, University Student, that your point about researchers and academicians is a very valid one. I think I have overlooked them too much being a K-12 teacher, and I shouldn't.

  6. I have added you to my blog roll. I am so glad I found you via the Edustat blog. However, now instead of stressing over as Bud and you said, “If everyone else is reading him/her, then I must be missing something,” I will be wondering, man, am I the southern blogger getting on her nerves? ha!

    I guess that is another piece to add to the list."Don't worry over bloggers who don't like you." ha ha!

    Anyway, I'll be sharing your ideas with all my preservice students. Awesome job.

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