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Blackboard Blogging

Teachers' weblogs.
Teachers' weblogs. (The Washington Post)

Read some and find out why more teachers than ever -- some estimates say up to half in this decade -- are leaving the profession feeling exhausted, disillusioned and underpaid.

Last May, my school board approved an allocation to purchase a wireless laptop cart/mobile computer lab for our school. This was exciting, because we were, at the time, working on a small package of professional development around incorporating technology into our instruction . . . Unfortunately I'm still waiting for those computers. The staff's excitement is long gone. Promises made by district technology personnel were broken repeatedly.

-- http://www.budtheteacher.%20typepad.com/

Other blogs can draw the reader into the big educational debates of the day, such as the one surrounding President Bush's No Child Left Behind law and the added pressure some teachers say it has put on them to raise student scores on high-stakes standardized tests.

Or into smaller ones, such as Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica Online (especially after a study published in December in the journal Nature said the free, open-access encyclopedia is about as accurate as Britannica).

Educators had been slow to catch on to blogs, in part for privacy and security reasons, according to some teachers. But their blogs have been growing exponentially over the past year, according to people who monitor Web content. A few years ago, there were practically none; now there are thousands.

Some teachers use blogs in the classroom to communicate with students and allow them to critique each other's work. But it is in the personal blogs that teachers have some of the most open, and occasionally brutal, discussions about themselves and their profession.

Those who get particularly personal often blog under a cloak of anonymity. Even the "complete profile" on their personal blogs doesn't reveal very much about them.

That may be in part because of ethical questions about how far teachers should go in talking about students, colleagues and personal problems. It may also be because they've seen how easy it is for a teacher to get in trouble.

Andrew McNamar of Cascade High School in Everett, Wash., blogged about how inappropriate it was for some girls to dress like call girls at the high school prom, only to find himself asked by the school to be careful about what he posts.

He removed the controversial parts from his blog, the Daily Grind ( http://www.ahighcall.blogspot.com/ ), but not before attracting dozens of responses from around the country supporting his comments.

Some teachers say they find Web logs to be a powerful learning tool -- for themselves.


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