Lisa Hill is a teacher librarian and Director of Curriculum at Mossgiel Park Primary School in Melbourne’s Endeavour Hills. Lisa has developed a number of professional learning resources and has agreed to share her blogging experience with readers. She explains how her blog came about.
Last year, after attending the SLAV Conference in March, I set up a professional blog at http://lisahillschoolstuff.wordpress.com/ . It was an experiment that grew as my knowledge of Web 2.0 grew: I made my first post on March 16th, 2008 and have posted 57 times since then, at intervals ranging from one a month to sometimes five or six in a month. Now, just over 12 months after starting the blog there had been (at the time of writing) 5,995 hits, which means that near enough to 6000 people have visited it.
Why do I bother with this, and why do other people bother to read it?
My WordPress stats tell me that topics I’ve written about are common search terms. People search online for stuff about Aboriginal Perspectives – and I have a whole page showing how we at MossgielPark PS integrate Aboriginal Perspectives into our curriculum for different units of work. I also uploaded a PowerPoint that I presented at the SLAV conference and people look at that too. People are interested in anything to do withBoys and Education and I’ve responded to topics in The Age, reviewed a book on the issue, and summarised an article that I read about Boys and Learning. I got some rather cross comments when I blogged my opinion of ‘dreary and depressing books about tormenting social issues’ in the 2008 CBCA shortlist, but most of the 258 hits on that post kept their own counsel. This means I don’t know whether they agree withme or with my critics!
The short answer is that I’ve kept a diary on and off throughout my life, and my professional blog journals the parts of my professional life that I’m willing to share. I use it to proffer my opinion on various issues in the news, to summarise what I’ve learned at conferences, to share resources that I’ve developed or discovered online, to review children’s books and occasionally to brag about my school. Blogging means that I am part of the professional conversation that is developing online, and I like that.
Having said all that, however, I also should ‘fess up that I’m a professional writer as well. I’ve had a little book published, and been paid for stuff in professional magazines and (once!) in a capital city daily. I’ve had three resource books for teaching Indonesian in the marketplace and I could have had more if I wanted to. So I’m comfortable about writing and self-editing, and having been paid to express my opinions before, I’m not afraid to say what I think. I find writing easy, and satisfying, and sometimes financially rewarding.
The difference with blogging is that no one pays me to do it, I don’t feel under any pressure to post, and there’s no deadline. I like being part of the online community and once I’d completed the SLAV Learning Web 2.0 course in the middle of last year, I felt comfortable with the technology.
But why do others bother to read it? This is why WordPress is my preferred blog provider. I know the answer to this question because as part of the WordPress free service they offer an in-built stats analysis. (You can add this to blogs that are hosted by Blogger.com – but they’re not as a comprehensive and you have to muck about installing them. GlobalTeacher also has a stats feature.)
My all time top post is about Multiple Intelligences (422 hits) but my most popular contributions to the online world seem to be the Author Study units of work I have uploaded. Whenever we have student teachers at school I show them the blog and let them know that they (and teacher-librarians anywhere) are welcome to download them to use in any way they wish. (I hope the students don’t plagiarise them, because I’m sure that by now they would be recognised by their lecturers).
I have also installed the ClusterMap widget which shows me that people from all over the world have stumbled onto my blog (everywhere from the Sudan to Grenada, and three from Korea!) but that the vast majority are of course, Australian – though there’s also two to three hundred from the US and the UK, but only 22 from New Zealand.
These features confirm for me that I am not wasting my time with this blog. Most people who visit don’t comment, much as I wish they would because even a brief remark is very motivating, but they seem to find what I offer interesting and sometimes useful.
That makes it worthwhile!
Congratulations to Lisa on a wonderful blog that not only shares resources with peers, but expresses opinions on learning and teaching.