By Kendall Johnson, @MsKJEdu
2011. That’s when I first created my class blog. They had been around for many years already, but I had very little knowledge about them at the time, and I certainly didn’t spend much time reading about what other teachers were doing in their classrooms. I was still very isolated back then. My classroom parents were good sports though, and did a great job at reading the posts with their kids. I even had some who consistently wrote comments back. In the very early days, I see that I mainly used my blog as a communication tool for my parents telling about something interesting we did that day, highlighting leadership awards or assemblies, sharing weekly spelling lists (gasp!), and so on.
An Informational Post on Schema from October, 2011
Thankfully it quickly evolved beyond that. I posted regularly about what we were doing in class along with a couple of photos to highlight my wordy explanations. My blog was almost entirely product driven, however. There were only good copies of stories. Only final results of science experiments. Only finished art projects. Only completed graphs in math. Oh. And if it wasn’t pretty, it was not included in my blog. That’s what I thought parents wanted to see, and at that point in my journey as a teacher I felt that perfect, polished results were my ultimate goal.
2J Concession – Data Analysis from March, 2014
I do understand that product is obviously important in education. It can be a celebration, a display of accomplishment, a show-what-you-know, a communication of understanding. But over time I have discovered that I have a passion for documenting the process of learning. Process is where you get to SEE the learning happen. To watch it unfold and evolve. In my opinion, this is where the real action takes place. It’s my favourite part of being an educator. And my blog has again transformed to mainly focus on documenting the learning process.
Marble Maze Finale! Video from blog, February, 2019
Now I love to see the exact starting point of a project or learning of a concept. I love to watch students share and explore and research their ideas. I love to see the “a-ha” moments and the mistakes and adjustments they make. It can be messy and fun, frustrating and magical. I especially love the process of learning in primary grades because many students are still open to trying new things without the fear of failure. I worry that if I focus too much on product, mistakes will become obstacles instead of embraceable opportunities. Documenting the process of learning has proven to be so much more rewarding for me as an educator than simply displaying product. I feel like it’s infinitely more interesting, entertaining, and rich in overall substance.
Towers in the Wind – Design and Testing Video from blog, April, 2018
Finally, my blog has noticeably changed in terms of the format of my posts to better document the learning process. Where I used to write several paragraphs attempting to explain what was happening, I now almost exclusively use video to tell the story of learning. I know my documentation of the learning process will continue to evolve, and I’m excited to see what that will eventually look like in the future. Because of social media I spend more and more time seeking out what other teachers are sharing from their classrooms, and it constantly makes me reflect on and adjust my own practices. While showing my students and their parents the process of learning in our classroom, I also hope that I have positively influenced other teachers who have visited my blog.
Our Insulated Thermos Project Video from blog, October, 2018