Tuesday, July 25, 2017

PD Review: Blogging for Educators: Writing for Professional Learning

Sackstein, S. (2015). Blogging for educators: Writing for professional learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Book Talk

It seems funny to write a review...on my blog...about blogging. But as a new-ish blogger, I wanted to get better at my practice and sought out books dealing with blogging for teachers. This was trickier than I expected, as much of the literature is for teachers who want to blog with their students. That's awesome, and I hope to do this as well, but I'm really looking at how to be a better blogger.

Sackstein's book is part of the Corwin Connected Educators Series. If you've read any of these books, you know that they are quick reads, to the point, and strategies-based. This book is right on target.

The book starts with a justification of the practice of blogging from the standpoint of educators. Why should teachers blog? What is the purpose? What do we hope to accomplish? Sackstein offers a few reasons why teachers should blog:
  • to become a better writer
  • to develop a unique teaching voice
  • to reflect on practice
  • to connect with other educators
The most useful part of this chapter for me was reflecting on topics for future blog posts. She suggests blogging about:
  • risks I want to take
  • goals, both short- and long-term
  • reflections on standards-based instruction and/or evaluation instruments, such as the Danielson rubric (so much I could say here, but I digress)
  • reflections on failures
  • challenges in the classroom
  • planning
  • first day of school activities
  • work/life balance
  • "how to" posts
  • lesson plans
In chapter 2, Sackstein provides options for blogging platforms. Keeping in mind that this was written in 2015, it's a pretty standard list (Blogger, Edublogs, WordPress, etc). I think there are different and more varied options as of 2017, but she shares the most popular and stable options.

Chapter 2 was the least useful for me personally since I have (obviously) already selected a platform. I chose Blogger because it's 1) FREE, 2) easy to use, and 3) easily integrated with my existing Google account that I use for pretty much everything else in my life. I do think that the step-by-step instructions would be helpful for new bloggers who are interested in using Blogger as their tool of choice. Not as helpful for bloggers seeking to use one of the other options.

Chapter 3 examined the ins and outs of the publishing portion of the application. Again, not terribly useful for me because I feel pretty comfortable with Blogger. I did learn about the "" feature, which I hadn't heard of before. I see it right now up at the top of my screen, but didn't know what to do with it. Sackstein keeps the conversation pretty general in this chapter, but it still definitely aligns most closely with Blogger. So users of other platforms might get frustrated.

In chapter 4, Sackstein looks at connection with audience. She talks about interacting with other bloggers and provides some etiquette rules to consider. She touches *briefly* on issues of privacy and comment moderation. I would have liked to see more here, especially as it pertains to teachers and their concerns about backlash from administration. 

My Recommendation

3.5/5 stars
That sounds low, and I don't mean it to be negative. I read this literally in an hour, from cover to cover. It's an easy read and has some great information. I just didn't find it as helpful as I was hoping. I wanted more examples of blogging topics, ways to connect with other bloggers, etc. I felt like she could have completely removed chapters 2 and 3 and directed readers to existing tutorials and spend a lot more time on issues relating to blogging and teachers. Still, I learned some things and am glad I borrowed the book.

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