Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Rugged days

The past two days have been rugged at school. Everything looks fine from the outside, but there are two big time issues I'm wrassling with.

My third graders' blogs are not working properly. I'm spending hours looking over them, figuring stuff out - when I don't really even have minutes. The kids really want to blog. Yesterday we talked about next year, when they won't be with me, when they won't have their beloved blogs. and so on. There were tears as I explained how I would phase them out. Lots of good questions. They were grasping at straws, trying to wrap their heads around how the blogs could still exist, live on, somehow remain. This phenomenal response is unlike anything I have seen in 25 years of teaching. And right now the blogs are not working. Three weeks to go in the school year, and there is this just incredible knot of emotion. Aargh.

The other is the literacy (specifically writing) program at my school. It is a very long story, which I will maybe share here later. Anyway, plans are being made for next year. And I am a lone voice suggesting anything other than the mandated all school paper/pencil, Mead writing notebook approach to writing that we had this year. My feelings are so strong on this, it is very difficult to even begin a conversation about it with my colleagues. My blood pressure shoots up, and there is this chasm of misunderstanding so wide that it seems impossible to even begin to address - never mind explain sensibly. And a rant will go nowhere here. So I'm trying to figure out what to do about it. I will probably write. Unfortunately, I have so much to say, there is so little time or energy to do a good job of expressing myself, and nobody will have the time to actually read and digest what I have to say, with all the end of the year craziness. One thing I do know. I cannot go through another year as I have this past year - way too many sleepless nights spent with this puppy. Better stop for now. I can feel the blood pressure rising.


Miguel Guhlin (@mGuhlin) said...

The lone voice in the wilderness. Gee, I have a blog entry on that experience!

Seriously, Mark, have you considered moving away from ClassBlogmeister? I hate to suggest this knowing that David W is killing himself trying to get it right, but you're spending too much time fixing stuff that should just work.

There are alternatives. You could use Thingamablog for traditional web servers (FTP only), use, or talk the district tech staff to setup a blog for you. Before you shoot me on the last one (yeah, I know how hard it is), this would give you freedom you don't enjoy now.

Do you have a regional education service center? How about a university? One of those orgs could also host you.

Take care,

Unknown said...

I do not see on your blogroll, so I thought I would share Anne's post for today on . In her post she shares the attributes of blogging that improve our instruction in ways that other tools do not. I thought you might like what she has to say.

I hate the end of the school year! It is such a stresful, crazy time! Best of luck to you as you struggle to convince those around you that what has always been done is not always best for students. ("If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got!")

I am assuming that you feel that blogging should be an important part of your school's writing program. If so, could your students' work be used to convince the other teachers that blogging has been valuable to their learning? Instead of Darren K's hypothetical question of
, you have students facing that issue as a reality.

Hang in there...Summer is coming!

P.S. Sorry for the repost. The links went crazy the first time, and I didn't know how to fix it after it was published.

Jeanne Simpson
Decatur, Alabama

Unknown said...

It still went crazy. The preview was fine. The links work, but it just looks strange!

Mark Ahlness said...

Miguel, yes I do remember your "lone voice" post. Almost linked to it, but didn't want to sound overly dramatic :)

What most people do not understand is that ClassBlogmeister is the PERFECT blogging tool for educators. No question. Nothing out there comes close, and I've tried them. What David also offers, again unique, is COMMUNITY, via his list. He has developed this so perfectly because he was a teacher, and he gets how it works. When David gets this thing humming along again on all cylinders, it has no peer. I'm hanging in there. Maybe it's nuts to put so much faith in somebody you've never met, but that's where I am.

I will look around some this summer, but I am puttings my eggs in David's basket. Thanks very much for your continued encouragement!! - Mark

Miguel Guhlin (@mGuhlin) said...

I understand...we moved away after encountering problems with ClassBlogmeister and haven't looked back. The community of edu-bloggers--I'm still on the list--is great to read and be a part of in spite of the problems.

Keep your options open, though. Be aware of other solutions.

Best wishes and wishing you well,
Miguel Guhlin

Anonymous said...

Have to chime in here on this one, Mark, Miguel, and others.

I, too, often wonder why I stick with BlogMeister. This summer I will look into edublogs to see if it is as moderated as Blogmeister. Wherever I go I also envision sticking with the listserv that has grown out of Blogmeister because of that esprit de corps community thing that has grown out of it.

Someone asked me yesterday what I think would help teachers adopt new technologies like blogs. I basically said I don't really care about others anymore. I have a community of teachers through Bloglines, the ClassBlogmeister list, etc., etc. that are on board with this stuff and I have lost my energy to convince others that I work with. I used to think carefully about that as a staff developer but now I really don't care about others.

Easier said then done, I know, especially when there is such a prescribed curriculum these days, but I now know why teachers simply close their doors after awhile. And if I get my class set of laptops then I'll REALLY close the door but open it to so many other things, eh?!