Well, finally, I have managed to work my way through the many excellent entries for the Spring 2009 Language Learning Blog Carnival. I have to say that it hasn't been easy, but it has been a very interesting process and one that has helped me to better define my own beliefs and opinions about what a 'good ' blog posting should be.
Of course these beliefs and opinions are personal to me so you may not agree or share them, but they are what I have used to guide me in the choices I've made.
So these are the criteria that I have formulated as my personal guide to what I look for when I'm reading a blog posting.
- Informative - Above all I want to learn something new when I go to a blog, so I'm looking for useful informative original content.
- Complete - I look for postings that are 'complete' in that you can read them and learn something from them without having to go off to lots of other place.
- Non commercial - Like most people in education, I don't have much time or money to throw around and would prefer to read about free resources rather than 'advertorials'.
- Appropriate to the medium - A blog is very specific medium. The best bloggers I think are people who understand the medium and can get the tone and length right and structure their message within those confines.
- Transferable - When I read a blog I'm not content just to absorb the message, I want to be able to take it and transfer it to what I do.
- I really enjoyed Model United Nations: a Teacher’s Guide from Dave's Big in Japan Blog. The posting is a guide to creating Model United Nations course. It's a really useful posting that delivers exactly what it says on the box in a clear concise and well structured way. There's enough information there to actually take away and try it yourself and he's even included some downloadable worksheets to help you do that. Despite being based in Japan, what he has written here can be transferred to any teaching context in any country. Fantastic! Dave also submitted an article on Preparing students for speech and debate contests that is well worth a read.
- This posting on the Literacy Cycle from Dorothy Burt of the Manaiakalani blog is another great example of a concisely written and well structured posting. Dorothy has managed to cram a great deal of information and observations gained over the process of two years into one very readable posting. A good read for anyone interested in e-learning of English.
- I also really liked this posting from Özge Karaoğlu's blog on Digital Story Telling and got quite involved in the discussion on it. Again, this is a well written concise posting with lots of information to take away and use as well as some good examples. This is an area that fascinates me too and one that students really enjoy. The information given in the blog is also transferable to pretty much any country or Internet connected teaching context.
- Next on my list of favourites is Larry Ferlazzo's The Best Sites For K-12 Intermediate English Language Learners. It always amazes me how Larry can not only find all these sites, but that he is able to 'quality control' them too. The list is concise gives clear descriptions and all the sites he recommends are there because they are great. So many links collections focus on quantity and then still leave you sifting through the rubbish to find what you want. I went through all the links in this page and could use all of them. Great stuff.
- Another posting that I really enjoyed and ended up getting involved in was from Carl Dowse and was on Using Second Life to teach Business English. Again this is a well written post and it makes good use of other media such as video and images. Carl's obviously put a lot of time and thought into the posting and best of all has moved beyond the medium as 'broadcast' and has opened up debate on the topic. Nice one.
- I like this post 'I dislike the word homework' for a similar reason. The writer, Karenne Joy Sylvester, has been able to move beyond broadcasting her ideas and has been able to prompt others to write in and share their experiences and ideas on a very simple yet common topic. Exploiting this collaborative potential is one of the real challenges and opportunities of blogs.
- When Will the Visual Revolution Get to our Classrooms? This is what Carla Arena asks in her posting on the power of digital images and video to convey meaning and engage our students. This posting is a well structured argument in support of greater integration of digital imagery into our classrooms.
- The last of my favourites is Six computer games to use in an English language classroom from Lindsay Clandfield's Six Things blog. This again is a concise well written posting with plenty of practical information. The use of computer games in education is a hot topic at the moment and this posting offers an easy way in for language teachers that want to check this out.
- This is a posting that I actually disagree with, but it is none the less a good example of a well structured and argued blog posting. Standardized Testing is a necessary evil was written by Leigh Thelmadatter and posted on the Mexico Teacher's Alliance Ning site. Be sure to read it if you are interested in testing and assessment.
- I enjoyed Don’t Date The Boss. Have A Meeting With Her Instead again by Karenne Joy Sylvester. Much as I loved the poem and images as a way of correcting errors I was less clear about who it was directed at, teachers or students. It seemed to be addressing teachers at the beginning with advice for students at the end, so what wasn't so clear was how to transfer the information here to my own context.
- I also really enjoyed Susana Canelo's Del Valle Film Festival, though not so much because of the blog posting but because of the Wiki that it linked to and the students work included there. I was left wanting to know how Susan had set up the 'Picture our song' activity that led to these great videos.
- In a similar vein I enjoyed seeing this posting from Mr Stout's Blog for Students and Teachers, but was left wanting to see more and wondering how he had got his students to create these videos, so that I could perhaps try this project myself.
Well that's the end of my first blog carnival and I hope that the people who have submitted posts that weren't included here aren't too offended. What's above is my personal choice based against my own criteria and it's quite possible that others would make a different selection. For anyone who wants to have a look at the complete set of entries, you can see them in one of my boxes on Simply Box.
Alice Mercer's blog and you can submit a posting at: http://blogcarnival.com/bc/eprof_28891.html
Alice teaches English Language Learners in Sacramento, and will host the June 1st edition of the Blog Carnival.
Lastly, thanks again to Larry Ferlazzo for asking me to host this carnival and apologies for getting it up a few days late.
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- Creating a personal homepage
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