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N.J. Teacher Makes Blogs A Staple at High School

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Blogs rule at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, N.J. -- thanks to Will Richardson.

Richardson, 47, was an English teacher for many years, but now he is the school's supervisor of instructional technology as well as the author of a new book on Web tools for the classroom. A pioneer educational blogger, he maintains a blog commonly cited by other teacher bloggers as their favorite. ( http://www.weblogg-ed.com )

He said he learned the power of blogs as a teaching tool in 2002.

His school had adopted Sue Monk Kidd's book "The Secret Life of Bees" as part of the literature curriculum, and he decided to set up a blog for students to converse about the book outside class. With great delight, he said, he watched the students post ideas as well as artistic interpretations. He also posted a blog for parents to join the discussion.

Then he went a step further, asking Kidd to come talk to his students. She did, and she posted a 2,300-word response to the classroom blog, telling students that their insights taught her about her own book.

He was sold, he said, on the power of the blog to foster conversation. Teachers and students, of course, had long held discussion groups and communicated by e-mail, he said, but blogs provided a whole new level of transparency and reach.

"From that point on, they became pretty much a staple of every class I taught," he said.

The school now has about 400 blogs, and its Web site is built on a series of blogs, he said. One of the blogs is called the Staff Web Lounge.

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