Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day Two (don't ask about day one!)

Well, if you must know, day one just plain got away from me. I'm not sure how that happened, but suddenly it was Tuesday night and I just thought about the blogging course that I was all keen for just two days ago.

The assignment for day one involved doing some analysis of design and layout and clarifying the purpose of your blog. Honestly, my purpose is to put some of my ideas into writing so that I am forced to clarify my thinking. I'm not trying to generate business for my infinitesimal consulting business or start debates with people who are better known than I am. I'm thrilled when I get into a conversation here though, don't get me wrong.

On to Day Two

See--I separated that with bold text! Did it look better??

The assignment for day two is to write a list post. At first I thought I just didn't have a list in me, but then I remembered that just this morning I was making a list of magazines I think make great reading for 11th grade students. One of the assignments I hope to give early on in the year will involve reading an entire magazine from cover to cover in several settings. I don't want kids to just power through in an hour but dip in for several shorter reading sessions. (I think this has to be a paper assignment). Then students will do a reading level analysis, and share thoughts about writing quality, audience, and style. We'll make a bulletin board of favorite articles.

On to the list:

Magazines I'd like to have in my classroom:

Scientific Mind. Cool stuff in here!

The Week. A global perspective on the news that most students haven't seen before. Plus interesting, well-written feature articles.

Sports Illustrated. The writing is usually strong--especially with the features rather than the weekly "news" of sports.

People. Yes, People. While there are some issues that make me cringe, there are other profiles that can be touching, inspirational, instructive and even cautionary. Good material for teens!

Wired. I'm not sure about this one. I like it, but I don't know if students would.

Reader's Digest. Fun and usually pretty easy to read. The "breaks" with the little jokes were always a favorite of mine when I was a teen. I haven't read this in years.

Both People and Sports Illustrated have extensive websites with content that is not the same as the paper issue. I suspect many students are only familiar with the sites.

What's not on the list: Harper's, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek. I won't get into why, but they are definitely NOT on the list.

What am I missing??

Reflection: What kinds of lists might be appropriate for this blog?

In the past, perhaps lists of sites or resources. Now I'm not so sure. I think professional resources for teachers might make a good list.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Being a better blogger...in just 7 days!

I've signed up for a minicourse on being a better blogger. Stephanie Sandifer offered this via twitter and I impulsively signed up. It just happens to be running during a week in which my kids are enrolled in camp, we're all moved into our new (temporary) home, and my new job starts August 2nd. I also thought I needed something besides reading to keep me thinking and learning since I'm missing the Laptop Institute this year and feeling just a touch sorry for myself.

What am I hoping to get out of the course? I'd like to get better at learning how to cut it short and make my point in a more focused way. I think I'd write more frequent entries if I were more succinct. It takes me too long to write and then that de-motivates me to start another entry anytime soon.

I'd also like to learn when to link and when not to bother. How much does it matter?

Related to the above, I'm not much experienced with design, but I know it matters and I appreciate it when others have strong design. Meredith Stewart talks about how "pretty matters" and her blog is a testament to sparse yet lovely design. Her photography and other visual elements really work for me.

I'm sure I'll learn more than this, but that's my initial list. Now back to my reading! Right now, I'm reading Leadership the Outward Bound Way. It's thick, but very readable. I'm in chapter six, which focuses on fear and "learning to cope with those fears and move beyond them into action, rather than letting them limit you."