Blog on Blogging

Authentic online spaces: Good or bad?

Posted on March 19, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Blog on Blogging, Eci834, First Nations, Masters, Privilege, Race, Technology |

This blog prompt comes at an interesting time for me as I have had a couple great conversations around this topic just recently. Both have to do with blogging and the conversations that occur because someone shared their thoughts/opinions/knowledge online; good, bad, or otherwise!

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Photo credit: Will Lion via Flickr

The first story happened in the last couple of weeks for me.  I have been blogging my reading responses for my other Masters class, EC&I 814 Critical Perspectives of Pre-school Edece-bookucation. We have been diving into topics around how to de-pathologize curriculum and re-situate early childhood education into an asset oriented perspective.  It goes along nicely with the anti-oppressive education work I have been doing this last year of my life.  In these posts, I often quote Luigi Iannacci who is one of the authors of our textbook, Early Childhood Curricula and the De-pathologizing of Childhood. I got an unexpected surprise one day last week when Iannacci emailed me through my blog’s ‘About page’ (which as a side note is why it’s important to have a contact form on your blog) and commented on my blog post. He was very encouraging…

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This led to me emailing him back, and we have had a little conversation back and forth for the last couple weeks. He has been very open and genuine, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask him if he wanted to Skype/Facetime in with our class during my presentation coming up on March 28th. He was more than happy to do it, and we have been figuring out exactly what that will look like.

But what can I say? What an amazing opportunity for myself and my classmates to actually talk to the human behind the stories and theory represented in our text. This opportunity happened BECAUSE I blogged my reading response for the world rather than wrote it for my professor. No, our conversation didn’t happen in the comment section of my blog or in a discussion forum, but none the less, it happened because of my blogging platform.

What do I take from this?

  1. Teachers need to give their students opportunities to write for someone other than themselves.
  2. Authenticity is inspired in others when it starts with me.

 

The second story happened to a friend of mine, Claire Kreuger. By the way, she has given me permission to tell this story. She has been blogging her thesis– HALLELUJAH! (I am so glad that this is starting to become a thing.) And she has had some interesting conversations around some of her posts. The story she told me yesterday was where her authentic online space did not go over so well.

Through her thesis, she has been actively trying to disrupt her own understanding of Whiteness, colonial spaces, and privilege. Her thesis is an Auto-ethnography, which involves her using stories from her own family, classroom and experiences. In her post, H is for Headdress, she explains why it is unacceptable for non-indigenous people, children included, to be wearing and making headdresses. Though this issue has been brought to light multiple times in the media, and in education, it still seems to be happening quite frequently. Claire mentions how even her own daughter made a feather headdress in class last year.  This is actually where the authenticity/openness of her blogging takes a turn for the worst.

Shortly after mentioning her daughter’s craft in her blog post, Claire got an email from her child’s teacher with the principal cc’d. The teacher wanted Claire to come in and chat… Uh oh! Anytime a teacher is willing to schedule a meeting on Friday after school, you know it’s not to talk about some awesome answer the child gave in Science that day. Sure enough, the teacher and principal wanted to speak about her blog post. The teacher

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“Blog With Authenticity Without Getting Fired” photo credit: Search Engine People Blog via Flickr

felt like Claire attacked her in the blog posts, and was telling others that she was a bad teacher. She had printed off pages from Claire’s blog (kind of ironic, right?) and challenged Claire on what she had written. Claire had to do damage control and explain the situation.  She told the elementary teacher that she thought she was an awesome teacher, but that Claire did have issues with that craft in particular, and how Indigenous people were being (mis)represented on a classroom and even school level. She tried to
apologize to the teacher and principal and explain that she was not trying to condemn the teacher per se, but rather address what her daughter had shared in conversation at home. Her daughter’s lack of knowledge and language around First Nations people was actually more of an issue than the craft itself, especially since Claire is actively trying to educate her own children about First Nations content at home. It is a symptom of the bigger systemic issue, and Claire clearly pointed that out in the blog, or at least she thought she did. Though the conversation was awkward, it was one that probably needed to happen on both accounts.

In this case, Claire being open and authentic in her blog caused tension with her face to face relationships. She was forced to stand behind her convictions and call somebody out on their racially insensitive actions. Though she was pressured to censor her opinions and thoughts, she found a way to adjust her blog’s comments, but not erase the story itself.

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“Blogging Readiness” photo credit: Cambodia4kids.org via Flickr

In either story, the good news is that the blogging platform brought out conversation, good or bad.  The public nature of the writing brought on discussion. The openness of the content spurred on more conversation. It can’t always guarantee that other’s will be authentic or genuine, but it sure helps when you know the writer is starting from that place.

 

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The 3 best blog posts I’ve ever read.

Posted on October 3, 2015. Filed under: Blog on Blogging, Christian, Ed800, teaching and learning | Tags: , |

There are so many influential blog posts out there. Probably millions. BUT if I were to choose my top three blog posts that have made the biggest impact on my life so far, it would be these three. I am going to summarize them, critique them a bit, and tell you how they have impacted my life.

  1. A Professional Blog Post 

Dear Parent: About THAT Kid by Amy Murray

What It’s About: This is a blog post that has gone viral in recent years. It has showed up on my Facebook wall, I have seen it tweeted about and newspapers like the Washington post and Huffington Post have picked it up. It’s just that good. This post is about THAT kid.  The kid who bites, hits, and has to sit by the teacher’s feet during carpet time. You know the one. We all know the one.  Amy talks about how her hands are tied as a teacher when it comes to talking with parents about THAT other family’s child. She enlightens her readers about the struggles of THAT child’s home. She shares some heart warming moments about THAT child’s life. She explains how she isn’t able to tell parents what she is doing “about” that child, but that if their child ever becomes THAT child, she promises to keep their privacy and information confidential.

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Photo credit: Natesh Ramasamy

Why I like it: I joined a Twitter chat called #kinderchat my first year of teaching.  Amy @happycampergirl was one of its moderators and I learned so much from her.  I even stopped by her classroom for a visit that year when I was in Calgary. She is awesome. This post is an outflow of Amy’s pedagogy and beliefs. It challenges all of us as teachers, parents, and gossipers! It hits home with every single one of its readers.  The comments on her blog have gone over 1000. She has parents who consider their own child, THAT kid. They thank her and tell stories of THAT kid becoming a successful adult. This post gives people hope and it gives me perspective as a primary teacher.

What it makes me think about: When I was taking part in the #kinderchat world, some of us would reference “THAT kid in Kindergarten.” Someone ended up making a hilarious twitter handle @THATkidinkinder which would speak from THAT kid’s point of view. Maybe you just need a primary teacher’s sense of humour (because my husband didn’t think the tweets were that funny), but I remember loving them and laughing so hard.

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Photo credit: Jim Benton

More seriously, Amy’s blog post makes me think about one of my own blog posts I wrote when taking part in a #kinderchat challenge. The challenge was: “Imagine that a parent of one of your students, stumbling around the internet, happened to land on your blog. Not your class blog with your cute photos of all your munchkins and their amazing brilliant work. Your personal teacher-reflection blog, the one where your intended audience is mostly other teachers. Pretend that parent managed to figure out exactly who you were, and that you were their child’s teacher. What would you want that parent to know? What would you say to that parent? Write the letter that you would want that parent to read.” I remember really enjoying this blogging challenge as it made me really question what I was posting. It challenged me on what digital citizenship looks like for teachers. Is what we post safe? How are we protecting or putting ourselves out there? We probably shouldn’t be naive enough to think that parents AREN’T Googling us and reading what we write, right? After all, Henry Jenkins says that it’s the average citizens who have the ability to seize control over the media technology of today.

What I think this blog post could do better: The only thing I think Amy could have done to make this post better, is give credit to the teddy bear image she used in her post… unless it’s her teddy bear picture? Since her post went viral, she wrote an addendum at the bottom asking for others to give her credit or ask for permission before using her post. This is a completely valid request, and one that should be listened to. That said, unless she is the teddy bear’s photographer, maybe the person who took that picture would want credit given to them as well.

2. A Thoughtful Blog Post

Police and Media… A Wife’s Point of View by Brittany Klassen

What It’s About: Brittany writes a touching piece about what it’s like for her to watch police featured in the media. It’s different for her after all, as an RCMP officer’s wife.  She eloquently describes what it’s like to watch live video of shootings on repeat. She explains her horror at seeing images of police cars with bullet holes as headlines. She challenges how media outlets now allow here-say into their stories when explaining the character of a criminal.  She explains how police officers are not allowed to comment publicly on a criminal’s character, and she feels it undermines what the police have to say. In a culture where there are many articles, videos, and blog posts that offer information to distrust police, she sides the other way and examines the absolute humanity of police officers. She questions if the media has just jumped on an already visible distrust of police, or if the media is fueling our society’s distrust for police.

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Photo credit: Jamie McCaffrey

Why I Like It: I like how Brittany “takes on the internet” in supporting police in a digital space that hasn’t been very fond of police over the past few years.  I like how she has brought a voice to police officers and their families.  She states how the police can’t publicly comment on lots of these issues because they are bound by their jobs to secrecy, privacy, and professionalism.  In their silence, she speaks up.  Her post emotionally connects with every person who has ever loved someone in a first responder’s uniform. She even has to defend her post because of all the hate she received in the comments.

What It Makes Me Think About: Her post makes me think about Danah Boyd’s article on Social Networks as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications. Boyd’s article talks about the structural affordances of networked publics. Boyd says, “Networked technologies introduce new affordances for amplifying, recording, and spreading information and social acts.” This is exactly what Brittany was talking about. With the technology that is out there, someone with a cell phone camera can videotape a shooting/bombing. That type of video is “juicy” for the average consumer and so bigger media outlets pick up the video and it is now amplified through standard media outlets and social media outlets. Boyd suggests that networked publics become “persistent, replicable, scaleable, and searchable.” Boyd even says “what spreads may not be ideal.” Brittany is furthering this idea by suggesting that it’s not just the physical video or image spreading that isn’t ideal, but perhaps an ideology.

What I Think This Post Could Do Better: I think Brittany’s post is very well written, and very emotionally engaging. I admire her for taking a stance on what she believes strongly in, and standing up for her fellow RCMP members, friends, and family.  What I think she could have done better was tried to see the other side of the argument a bit more openly. She definitely admits to being biased in writing this post, but in light of what has come out in the media in regards to police brutality, I think this post might have been a place to gently address it. She speaks to the humanity of the police officers, but what this post may be missing is the humanity in all victims; victims of racism, victims of criminals, victims of police brutality, and all of the families hurting behind any of those senseless acts. All in all, I know her post has touched many, and I am thankful I am included in that number.

3. A Personal Connection Blog Post

In God We Trust by Jeremy Echols

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Photo credit: Anna

What It’s About: This blog was written right after Obama became president of the United States. Because Obama is a Democrat, many American Christians were upset over the election results. Not unlike Canada, different religious organizations tend to vote for certain political parties and the line between church and state is sometimes blurred. Jeremy Echols, being a Christian himself, basically calls out the American Christians and reminds them about what the Bible really says about governing authorities. He quotes verses like Romans 13:1 that says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” He reiterates to Christians that the Bible says it is God who gives humans authority, and He is in charge, so stop freaking out if “your guy” didn’t become president.

Why I Like It: I like this post because it made a huge impact on my life. I stumbled across it shortly after the American election in 2008, and I was so impressed by his wisdom in this matter, I commented on the post.  I said, (typos and all)

“Hello! I am not from the Us, but Canada and I just want to say I am so pleased to hear you faith in the One who does control elections. Thank you for quoting scripture and bringing it back to God… because when it comes down to it, He is the one who gives men and women the authority. Thank you for blessing my heart today”

Jeremy was encouraged by my comment and ended up adding me to Facebook. At the time, he was interning at a church in Seattle, and over the next few months he really challenged my husband and I with what church looked like for us.  We had a friend’s wedding in Seattle the next spring, and so while we were in Seattle, we met up with Jeremy and his wife for dinner. We talked about God, church, church politics, and what it looks like for both of us in our respective countries.  My husband and I had driven to Seattle, and it was Jeremy and his wife who gave us a lot to talk and pray about on the long drive home.  In fact, it was enough, along with God’s prompting, that when we got home, we decided to switch churches and start going to a new church plant in the city called The Compass.  We have now called The Compass our home church for the last 6 years, and we couldn’t be happier. It has challenged us with what it really means to “be a Christian,” and though we are far from having all the answers, we have loved journeying with others who are trying to figure it out too. It’s hilarious because every time someone asks us how we ended up at such a small church like The Compass, I have to start with, “Well it all started with this blog about Obama…”

What It Makes Me Think About: The Canadian federal election is coming up, and I have been seeing many Facebook and Twitter posts about the election, and it has come down to some very disgusting campaigning. I loved this one article I read that pointed out all the religious intolerance, and how people are so willing to share and “like” racist articles that aren’t rooted in truth, but rather fear and misunderstanding.

Photo Credit: Kat Angus Buzz Feed Canada

Jeremy’s post has me thinking that I might be writing a similar post to his after this election if “the right party” doesn’t get in.  I know people are going to be mad no matter what the result, so maybe I should just start writing the post now! The thing I love about democracy is that whoever gets voted into power after the election on October 19th, will be our new leader.  It is our job as citizens to respect and support our government no matter what the party. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with all of the decisions, and it doesn’t mean we no longer have a voice, but the point of a democracy is that majority wins. After October 19th, we need to adjust our attitude and think about ways that we can help and support the government from the bottom up to make this country the best country it can be, regardless of who voted for, or didn’t vote for.

What I think this post could do better: I really liked that Jeremy used some “in text” visual citations that drew attention to the main points. I thought this made the post easier to read.  What I think Jeremy could have done better was use some video or images to make this post a little more visually appealing. His title is engaging and obviously enticed me to find his blog 7 years ago, but perhaps some visuals could have enticed even more people.

Well folks, these are my top three favourite posts. What do you think?

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Blog domain change!

Posted on September 2, 2012. Filed under: Blog on Blogging, Technology |

I have decided that I am going to change my blog domain to my married name rather than my maiden name!  I have been married 4 years now, I think it’s about time!

I wasn’t sure if this is something I wanted to do, as I was afraid I would lose traffic to my blog, but I decided that most of the traffic I receive is from online searches anyways, so I doubt most traffic will be affected.  I am hoping to get the domain mrsmaley.wordpress.com but right now it says it is unavailable.  I will try to switch it over soon, so keep watch!

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Dear parents…

Posted on July 27, 2011. Filed under: Blog on Blogging, edublog, educational, Kindergarten, parents, personal, reflection | Tags: , |

#Kinderblog

Imagine that a parent of one of your students, stumbling around the internet, happened to land on your blog. Not your class blog with your cute photos of all your munchkins and their amazing brilliant work. Your personal teacher-reflection blog, the one where your intended audience is mostly other teachers. Pretend that parent managed to figure out exactly who you were, and that you were their child’s teacher. What would you want that parent to know? What would you say to that parent? Write the letter that you would want that parent to read.

Dear Parents,
I want you to know more then anything that I love your kids. I really do! I try to tell them I love them at least every couple weeks so that they KNOW it and inadvertently, you know it as well. That said, you may have come across my blog, my Twitter account, or my Facebook statuses, and you may have seen that I sometimes write about your children.

I do in fact talk/blog/write about your kids often! They are important to me, and they are a huge part of my day, so of course I talk about my experiences with them.
I want you to know that I try to be very careful when I am talking about your kids. I try not to use their names, and I try not to write about anything that could be hurtful, embarassing, or confidential. That said, I have made mistakes in the past, and I have said and shared things that have later come back to bite me in the butt. I have learned my lesson, and thankfully, none of these things have been online. I am trying very hard to learn where discretion needs to be used, and who I can professionally talk to when I am struggling with a situation.  I will try to explain to you how and why I talk about your kids in the different outlets I use.


Speaking/talking in person: I sometimes have good days and I sometimes have bad days at work. You may or may not be surprised to hear this, but sometimes your 5 year old makes me go crazy! When I come home, I usually share with my husband why my day was crazy. He usually laughs with me at how crazy kids can be, and how I try to handle the tornado that is Kindergarten some days. Other days, something your child says really makes me think, or it makes me sad. Sometimes it has to do with what your home is like. Don’t worry, I’m not judging you as a parent or caregiver. I am just empathizing with your 5 year olds version of what is going on in their little world.  I’m trying to make sense of it in light of my own experience. On these days, I might share your child’s story with another trusted staff member or friend; it helps me gain perspective.  Sometimes, when your child’s story has really impacted my day, I pray for you and your family, and entrust you into God’s hands because we all know my reach can only go so far.


Blogging: Parent, you may have stumbled across my personal blog and read some articles that talked about our classroom, my own teaching, or maybe even your own child. This blog post was probably written when I was unsure about something, and struggling with what I should say or do. My blog is one of the outlets I use to talk things out. I quite often ask for other people reading the post to comment and tell me what they think I should do.  Usually, I hope another teacher reads my post and leaves a comment with their advice on the situation. Sometimes people comment, and other times no one comments, and the conversation ends there. Either way, I hope you can see that the topic I wrote about was important to me; whether that topic was your child, our classroom, or my own teaching pedagogy.  Whatever it was, it mattered enough to me to take the time out of my day to write out my thoughts. I’m not the most consistent blogger, so when I do blog about something, it matters! Please don’t feel strange that I shared about your child, or my classroom issues online. It should make you feel valued. I value your child and their peers enough to write about them and try and get a response that will help your child, his/her classroom, and the way I teach your child.  I promise you, I am blogging about the situation so that I can be a reflective teacher who has the best tools in hand to educate your child.


Facebook: If you are a parent of my student, chances are that I most likely don’t have you on Facebook. If you have added me as a friend, I probably accepted because I feel like I have nothing to hide from you, and you’re probably a really cool person.  That said, I am not the type of person that goes out looking for Facebook friends usually ever, so don’t feel bad if you are not my Facebook friend. However, if you are, you have probably seen that I put “kinderquotes” up quite frequently. These are little quotes that your child and his/her peers say throughout the day. I try and write them down because I think they are hilarious, but I have no one to share them with during the day. I hope you understand that when I write these quotes on Facebook, I am not making fun of your child, or laughing at your child.  Instead, I am enjoying them at this age and sharing that joy with others who don’t get to work with the wonderful age group that I do. I get so many Facebook friends telling me that they love it when I put up kinderquotes because it brightens their day. That’s how I feel. When your child says something funny or cute, it brightens my day as well!  And don’t all of us need a little sunshine in our day?
I hope this helps you understand why I talk about your children, and how I do want what’s best for them. However, if you ever have any issues with me putting information or stories about your child online, please don’t hesitate to let me know, and I will take them off immediately. Your best wishes for your child are most important to me.
Sincerely,
Mrs. Maley

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Collaboration

Posted on March 17, 2010. Filed under: Blog on Blogging, edublog, educational, Technology |

Our Collaboration project with Crozet Gains is making me miss internship a lot.  We are collaborating with Paula White’s grade 5 math class, and each one has their own wiki.  The excitement these children have for their own learning astounds me.  William’s Math wikispace is a really awesome example of this.  He has so many pages that interest him, and he sends out little wiki mails to his other classmates and collaborators inviting them to edit a certain page he just made, or he asks them to fill out a poll on his poll page.  I bet if you filled out his poll, he would love it- AND get more data from his poll.

This just goes to show that the best learning that can take place is learner centered learning where the learner him/herself takes the initiative and is responsible for the results.  I also believe that learning takes place when there is collaboration involved, and this is evident in William’s wikispace.  I can’t wait to see what else he and his other classmates come up with.

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Elluminate did Resonate

Posted on January 19, 2010. Filed under: Blog on Blogging, edublog, reflection | Tags: , , |

I just listened to an Elluminate session that Alec Couros and Sue Waters moderated.  There were quite a few things that struck a chord with me, and I want to share them without being scattered and all over the place.  Therefore, I have decided, I am going to use good old fashioned bullets.

  • First, I was uncomfortable with the chat going on while Sue was presenting.  I understand that Elluminate is not meant to be a newer power point where one person presents and everyone else sits there like bricks.  BUT I still sometimes feel like it’s disrespectful.  Call me old fashioned, but how is having your own separate chat any different then texting in the middle of a University class?  I think chat is great when you can ask questions to the presenter- but when you start your own little side conversations that the presenter can’t keep up with anyway BECAUSE THEY”RE PRESENTING, I feel like this takes away from the entire presentation.  In fact, sometimes I missed what Sue or Alec said because I was trying to scroll and read what was being written in the chat section.  I think this problem could be solved with removing the “chat” portion and only having the mics available so that if there was a question, someone could raise a virtual hand, speak into the mic and have their question answered when the presenter had a second to breathe, not mid sentence.  The only problem that this could cause would be that people couldn’t type links into the chat section.  Thoughts or ideas?
  • Second, I have to give Sue credit for all the work she has done with edublogs.  Before the fall 09 semester started, Sue held a competition where she gave away free blogs for a year to people who were willing to share their tips about blogging and win.  I knew I couldn’t afford my own edublogger supporter blog (without ads)  for my student’s class blog so I entered.  I wrote a post about my 5 most important tips for people starting out blogging.  I had an emphasis on early childhood class blogs because that’s what I knew best, and in October, Sue announced the winners of her competition and I won a free blog for a year!  Abbey R, the student who Sue mentions in the Elluminate session, also won a free blog at the same time I did.
  • Third, I would like to comment on some of the questions that came up during the Elluminate session.  I felt an underlying theme of “time” arose during the conversation.  I felt some people were uncomfortable with the amount of time blogging takes.  Sue also eluded to the fact that she spends a lot of time commenting on blogs, and commenting on comments.  It was actually after my ECE class last night that I started thinking about how teachers battle time.   Most of us already feel pressured to fit in all of the curriculum in our September to June school year, so I’m sure some people think “how on earth can I add blogging on top of that?”  As I was mulling this over, it occured to me that we can’t add blogging ONTO the curriculum.  It has to become part of the curriculum; a tool to support the rest of the curriculum, if you will.  I think we need to get away from having “computer class” and realize that technology needs to be a way of learning, or a tool for learning.  Did you know that in the “Better beginnings” sask education document (about early childhood), it is suggested that in Pre-K there should be a 60-90 min block of time designated for uninterrupted play?  My original thought was- then when will I teach?  And there… that’s the problem! We think we need to teach curriculum instead of viewing curriculum as somethig we “unravel”.  Some think we need to “teach blogging” where we really should be using blogging to teach.  Let me know if you disagree, I’d like to hear your suggestions! 🙂
  • My last thought related to the Elluminate session is on bletiquette- (blog etiquette?)  I had an  interesting experience with comments last year.  I was blogging about my thoughts on “scientific truth.”  It was a discussion on using creationism in schools, and apparently I stepped on a few people’s toes because I got some VERY interesting and rude comments.  Here are two snippets for an example: “If you honestly can’t see why you should not be poisoning the young minds placed in your care with such nonsense, I urge you to find another discipline to teach – science is clearly beyond you”  and “Do you actually believe that Kindergarten to grade 3 students can make a reasonable distinction between actual science and creation ’science’?
    The idea of you being anywhere near children, let alone filling their heads with claptrap, is frightening
    .”  Ouch hey?  I’m not going to lie, I was little bit upset at first, but then thought… really?  Am I really going to listen to some random blogger tell me how to teach children?  It started to make me think- what was their purpose behind writing the comment?  They clearly weren’t wanting to join my educational network, or inform my teaching practice, so I left it.  Too bad they didn’t realize that their “evil” was used for good :)- Their comments inspired me to write a whole post related to the issue.  Thanks people.  Any idea of what we can call these mean people who leave comments?  I was thinking “Crommenters”  which is crappy commenters.
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