Nominations for Edublog Awards, 2010
Here are my nominations for the The 2010 Edublog Awards. I thought I’d crank this out in half an hour, and it has taken days. I realize I owe a great debt to all of these educators and writers who have made a difference in my thinking and learning. Thank you, all. And thank you to those of you who have nominated this blog in the Best New Blog and Best Group Blog categories.
First, a few disclaimers and explanations.
1. I’ve tried to spread out the nominations in order to recognize more people. So, while the Edublog nomination rules state you can nominate a blog or person in more than one category, I’ve made an effort to avoid repetition.
2. I’ve added some “runner-up” mentions, just to acknowledge some other valuable contributions out there.
3. I’m proposing a new category – Best Non-Education Blog for Education Readers – it obviously won’t count for much this year, but maybe next year…? Find out which blog I’m nominating at the end of this post.
So, here we go!
- Best individual blog – Nancy Flanagan, Teacher in a Strange Land. It’s the writing that gets me. I mean, Nancy is also well-read, wise, and possessed of a keen insight about education at every level from the tiniest moment in a classroom, to the local politics, to the state and national policy matters. But what sets Nancy apart from many other writers is the craft. I love her humor, her hooks, her confidence. (Runner-up: The Jose Vilson – for similar reasons; it’s not just the education, but the total Jose Vilson experience).
- Best individual Tweeter – @21stprincipal – J. Robinson. All I had to do was look in my Favorites on Twitter to see how much Robinson has contributed to my reading. It’s also wonderful to see an administrator putting himself out there via blogging Twitter, staking out a clear position to resist the dominant political and corporate approaches to education reform. (Runners-up – @joe_bower – outspoken and insightful, will force anyone who follows him, or reads his blog, to confront some hard truths about grading as a mainstay in educational practice, or malpractice. And @TeacherReality – this anonymous teacher provides a steady dose of short, sobering reflections and hard-to-face realities that make a mockery of “reformy” pronouncements coming out of think tanks and the popular media).
- Best group blog – Schools Matter (Jim Horn, Stephen Krashen, Kenneth Libby) – essential reading about corporate school reform/deform. Every time I read one of their posts I’m thankful there’s someone out there with the time and know-how to take on this watchdog role in the blogosphere. (Runner up: Stories From School: Practice Meets Policy – various authors, Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, Washington; I love what they’re doing – the focus, the writing itself, the collegial tone, and hope InterACT can match their productivity and longevity.)
- Best new blog – Walt Gardner’s Reality Check – Walt consistently puts out insightful posts on current policy and education reform topics, and responding with a blend of wisdom, experience, and solid information and research. (Best new blog runner-up: Failing Schools, written by Sabrina Stevens Shupe, Mark Friedman, and a third partner who goes by “Maria”. Also, Best New-ish Blog – honorary mention, because he started in late 2009 and doesn’t quite qualify for 2010 – Always Formative – Jason Buell).
- Best resource sharing blog – Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day – Was this category created for Larry? Larry is the master, and I imagine anyone reading this nomination blog has already heard of him, read his blog, clicked on a number of articles or websites he’s shared, and consulted one of his famous lists.
- Most influential blog post – The Media’s War on Teachers – Anthony Cody, Living in Dialogue. I’m usually hesitant to embrace militaristic metaphors, but in this post, Anthony makes it clear what we’re up against in the mainstream media, and it’s certainly looking like an organized campaign that envisions “bad teachers” and unions as an enemy to be defeated. (Runner-up: The Department of Faith-Based Education Initiatives – Ken Bernstein).
- Most influential tweet / series of tweets / tweet based discussion – #latvam – This past August, when the Los Angeles Times took on the topic of value-added measures for teacher evaluation, and then went ahead and paid for their own study, and then published the results, and then ignored the criticisms and the consequences, they set off a firestorm of well-deserved condemnation and triggered a long-running conversation on Twitter that hopefully educated some people and swayed some opinions. (Runner-up: #educationnation/#NBCfail – for exposing similar anti-teacher offenses, ignorance, tone-deafness, and public relations ineptitude).
- Best teacher blog – TeachMoore – Renee Moore – I’ve told Renee before that every time she writes, I learn. We come from such different backgrounds, live and teach in such different communities, and so I find myself always benefiting from Renee’s perspective on teaching and on all sorts of educational issues. Her posts are usually short and sweet, providing useful information, analysis, and thoughtful perspective from an educator I truly admire. (Runner-up – dy/dan – Dan Meyer – Rumored to be a graduate student at a nearby university, Dan’s practices as a math teacher and as a blogger raise the bar for all of us – even the English teachers. Seriously – a math teaching blog has to be pretty damn good to consistently vie for my reading time as someone mainly interested in education policy and high school English. What do I get out of it? First, it’s about honoring students’ time, their natural curiosity, and their learning processes – and that’s universal. Second, I’m gleaning a combination of tech tips and thoughts about presentations).
- Best educational use of a social network – The English Companion Ning – my nominees certainly skew towards the policy oriented blogs and web presences, but Jim Burke has started and nurtured something amazing in The English Companion. Vast resources, valuable dialogue, and non-stop activity! (Social network runner-up: Teachers Letters to Obama, organized by Anthony Cody on Facebook).
- Best use of a PLN – Twitter, #edchat
- Lifetime achievement – Bill Ferriter – The Tempered Radical / @plugusin
It seems odd to be talking about lifetime achievement for a guy this young, but I simply couldn’t find another category for Bill. There is no single teacher who has affected my thinking and my practices more than Bill. As a longtime blogger, he has consistently engaged his readers, pushed us to think about our practices and our students in critical ways, and offered us a wide variety of resources and perspectives. A brief review of ways Bill has affected me, and many others, I’m sure:
1. Introduced me to Twitter – Twitter has become a resource like no other. Through Twitter, I’ve found hundreds of articles and websites that have informed my thinking and helped my teaching. I’ve found hundreds of educators with a collective wisdom that astounds me. I’ve had quick but meaningful opportunities to interact with researchers and journalists who study and write about education, and some of the people who create and implement the policies that direct our work.
2. Pushed me to start blogging – we’ve only met once in person, at an NBPTS conference in Atlanta. Bill’s personality and voice are in person exactly what you’d expect if you’ve read his blog. He convinced me that blogging would be a way for me to learn more, not just share what I’ve learned about education. You can see how Bill models that idea every time he asks “Is this making sense?” and every time he takes the time to write a blog post response to comments that challenge his thinking.
3. Reflections on policy, practice, and relationships – Bill has certainly laid out his thinking and his experiences in some personal and thought provoking ways. I can recall a number of Bill’s blog posts off the top of my head, without any prompting or reliance on search engines. There are very few bloggers whose writing and sharing of experiences stick in my memory months or years later. For the benefit of anyone reading, however, I went and found links for those who want to read about silver dollars, Kiva in the classroom, teaching untested subjects, or hybrid roles for teachers.
4. Technology – Bill’s blog posts and tweets have informed me about a number of technology tools, but more important than hearing about them is using them. Voicethread seemed somewhat interesting, but then Bill put together a three day Voicethread conference about professional learning communities, and I learned about Voicethread by using it, seeing its potential as a classroom tool, and now I’m in the process of setting up a Voicethread conference between students in different schools. I already knew about Skype for my own communication, but my first use of Skype at school was to have Bill as a guest speaker for some of my peers discussing professional learning communities. Bill was one of a few teachers who influenced me to incorporate student blogging in the classroom, which I did last year and will try to do even more successfully next semester.
It’s also important to note that Bill is not a tech-enthusiast for technology’s sake. The tools have to meet a student need, and when that doesn’t seem to happen, Bill’s quick to point it out. Any regular readers of The Tempered Radical will know about his ongoing critiques of interactive white boards, for example.
5. Professional learning communities – Bill co-authored Building a Professional Learning Community at Work, which has been put to good use at my school, and reflects a natural outgrowth of good practice and good blogging. UPDATE (12/8/10): Bill’s book won an award for Professional Development Book of the Year, from Learning Forward (formerly National Staff Development Council).
And finally, a proposed new category: Best Non-Education Blog for Education Readers – Work Matters – Bob Sutton – I’ve written before, and will again, about how useful I find this blog, and how much I enjoyed Bob’s book Good Boss, Bad Boss (disclosure: he arranged for me to receive a free, advance copy). Are you tired of business people thinking they know all about education, and then hearing them spout some idiotic drivel that reveals how little they understand? Well, in case you were wondering, there are smart people out there in “the business world” whose insights into organizations and management will actually bolster your arguments if you want to suggest, for example, that Michael Bloomberg is making one mistake after another as a leader and boss in New York City Schools. (I’m not saying that’s Bob Sutton’s opinion). I’ve found myself much more confident talking to non-teachers about educational leadership and management when I can pull in additional resources from business – whether it’s Bob’s own work or something I found through him.