After years of false starts, I began blogging in earnest this calendar year. My district was on Spring Break last week and I challenged myself to blog and vlog for seven days. Because I've been inspired by the #GoOpen movement and have become passionate about sharing work with other educators to improve the impact of our discipline, I decided to blog and vlog about my classroom and activities and resources that have been successful throughout the year.
During what I called, #OERWeek, I shared a variety of resources for use in anyone's classroom. On Twitter, I connected with some like-minded educators, was encouraged and challenged, and had opportunity to reflect on my practice.
Here are five big takeaways from my blogging and vlogging experience:
1. It took a lot of work (and a little embarrassment)
I watch vlogs on YouTube and some are polished and even cinematic while others capture life in the moment. I tried going for somewhere in between and it took forever. Most of my vlogs are around 8-10 minutes, but it took me between 1-2 hours for each. Figuring on the low end, that's roughly 7 hours to produce 56 minutes of footage. I can't imagine the time/devotion it takes for a more cinematic entry.
Vlogging was also uncomfortable. I was raised before the shift in "selfie culture" and it's strange to me to film myself, edit what I say, and share it with the world...opening myself up to people I've never met. That being said...
2. It forced me to reflect on my practice
If you ever want to test the meddle of your curriculum and/or approach to teaching, record yourself talking about it, listen to yourself repeatedly for an hour while editing, and then share it with other educators. I learned about holes in my curriculum I didn't realize were there. I discovered areas I need to improve in, not just my curriculum, but in my practice and relationships. I also found the places my approach to teaching works and starting thinking of ways to focus on those places.
3. It connected me to people I wouldn't encounter otherwise
Twitter is, hands down, the best professional development out there. I have restructured entire units based on Twitter chats and have been given access to places I can't just take off and visit and research that improves my curriculum. However, Twitter connections are limited and there are people I would never connect with by the traditional Twitter algorithms. By hashtagging my blog posts during #OERweek, I met educators I didn't follow who shared my posts, which got viewed by their followers, which got retweeted to their followers, and on.
4. It put me in the shoes of my students (for just a minute)
Everyday we ask students to get uncomfortable. We expect them to try things they may not excel at in areas they might not like or may struggle with. Blogging everyday and, especially, vlogging got me uncomfortable. I tried something new and had mixed success. How often do students feel this way? Are we even aware of how they feel as they reach outside familiar territory? The experience of #OERweek is one I will try to remember as I push students to venture into strange and unfamiliar educational experiences.
5. It encouraged new ideas
I started drafts of eight new blog posts while writing/recording posts for #OERweek. I developed an idea for a weekly series of vlogs I'd like to do on material culture for use in classrooms. I also connected with a couple of local sites to discuss how to incorporate local history in the classroom and online through blogging and social media. It's difficult to start and can be embarrassing or even intimidating, but it's paid off for me. I encourage you to take a risk and see what comes of it.
Below are the vlogs for each day of #OERWeek 2017. I would love to hear from you if you plan on using or have used any of the resources mentioned in the vlogs in your own classroom. Also, please use the hashtags #OERWeek, #OER, and/or #GoOpen if you share out resources from your own classes or want to connect.
Day 1: Teaching Students to Do History
Day 2: Age of Exploration HyperDocs
Day 3: English Colonization App Smashing
Day 4: Working Backwards in History to Save Jamestown
Day 5: Planning a Revolutionary Dinner Party
Day 6: Student Engineering-Cahokian Flood Prevention
Day 7: Student Innovation and Inventing for Our First President
Thanks for following along and, hopefully, the journey's just beginning.