It’s hard to believe another school year is beginning. Now that I have had a chance to wipe the summer’s cobwebs from my eyes, I am in full-steam ahead mode. The energy and enthusiasm I see all around has me re-fueled and ready for an exciting year of possibilities.
I would like to start by thanking all our technology leadership in the county as well our School Board and County Commissioners for the course correction we are experiencing this year in technology. It’s been a while since I heard our staff cheer at a faculty meeting over technology news but that’s exactly what I heard today when I announced what kind of technology was going to be infused into our school this year. We are beyond excited! Most importantly, we are thrilled that our students will finally have access to computers that are up-to-date and which have a consistent operating system and productivity software across the school. Our county has taken huge strides to provide schools the technology tools they need to better prepare students for the 21st century.
With all this excitement, I am finally blowing the lid off blogging. I am attempting to introduce the idea of using blogs as opposed to static web sites to my teachers. I have had several courageous enough to try it including 6th grade science teacher, Mr. Wolfe; 7th grade English language arts teachers, Mrs. Lancaster and Ms. Curley; 8th grade English language arts teacher, Mrs. McNamara; and 8th grade math teacher, Ms. Murawski.
Some may protest the lack of uniformity in the designs of these blogs because we have been encouraged to make teacher web sites look the same in the past. Some may wince at the fact that students and parents can comment and interact with the teacher and each other through a blog. Others may cringe at the thought of teachers posting controversial posts for the world to see. Let me address these concerns straightaway.
- No, I am not requiring that teachers’ web sites look the same. I believe teachers need to be allowed some creative freedom as long as their text is easy to read and their site is easy to navigate, two major design rules in web design.
- Yes, we are opening up our teachers’ web sites to comments. I am requiring teachers to moderate all comments posted to their blogs and not allow inappropriate comments to be published. We want to encourage educational discussion and communication through these blogs while protecting our students in a professional manner.
- Yes, teachers will now have a voice in their blog. I have laid some ground rules for those who want to use a blog for their class web site though. Teachers have been warned that their class blog is no place to voice personal opinions about controversial issues and political or county/school policies. They can always make their own personal blogs not connected with the county to vent personal opinions.
The advantages of being able to update their web sites from anywhere and using an interactive format with students and parents are winning more teachers by the day. I believe the majority of our teachers will be blogging by the end of the year. If this experiment works (and I believe it will), our teacher web sites will be more interesting, more interactive, more informative, and more current than ever before. Students will be learning and collaborating outside the classroom. Parents will have a voice. The world will be invited in to interact with our classrooms and share their expertise in ways they haven’t been able to before.
On top of all this, we have launched a school blog so that our stakeholders can discuss school-wide topics such as our summer reading program. We are diving into Web 2.0 at MCMS and loving it!