1. Best for Hands-on Activities
Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog
The Lowdown: Canadian first-grade teacher Kathy Cassidy invites readers into the classroom to interact with students and her dynamic lessons.
Why We Love It: Besides sharing fun ideas like making fairy-tale characters out of clay, Cassidy lets us witness her students’ learning firsthand by posting lots of videos and photographs. And another bonus: We get to learn from Cassidy’s many guest speakers, too!
Why She Loves Blogging: “My favorite thing about blogging,” says Cassidy, “is that the students literally have a worldwide audience. They see themselves as writers because people can and do read and comment on their work.”
2. Best News From the Trenches
Teach for Us
The Lowdown: Teach for America teachers share the ins and outs of the sometimes controversial program.
Why We Love It: Whether you want TFA dirt (like how tough the boot-camp training really is) or warm fuzzies (like one blogger’s quest to get her student to love books by reading with her nightly over the phone), you’ll find the goods in this collection of blogs from TFA corps members working all over the country.
3. Best for Art Teachers (or Other Happy Finger-Painters!)
The Teaching Palette
The Lowdown: Teachers Hillary Andrlik and Theresa McGee cover useful resources (like the best iPhone apps for art teachers), classroom-management techniques, and art-worthy news.
Why We Love It: With arts programs always under threat, it’s nice to feel like there’s an online home for people who value the importance of watercolor and oil paints.
Why They Love Blogging: Both McGee and Andrlik enjoy the opportunity to connect with teachers nationally and internationally. Says McGee, “Art education has a unique set of challenges, and blogging has created an online forum to share ideas.” Adds Andrlik, “Our readers often give us new insight on a topic or provide a fresh perspective based on their unique experience.”
4. Best for Super Science Ideas
The Lowdown: Middle school science teacher Darren Fix entertains with science lessons and experiments.
Why We Love It: Watch his Mr. Wizard-style experiments, like using a jellyfish to learn genetic engineering.
Why He Loves Blogging: Says Fix, “Posting stimulates my creativity and leads to new ideas. It’s a positive experience in a profession that unfortunately dwells on the negative too much.”
5. Best Superintendent Straight Talk
The Principals Page
The Lowdown: Illinois superintendent Michael Smith chronicles his day to day.
Why We Love It: Smith’s blog discusses everything from Ferris Bueller to teaching conferences to a surefire way for President Obama to fix education.
Why He Loves Blogging: Says Smith, “It allows a small-town superintendent to be involved in national or worldwide discussions on education issues.”
6. Best for Kid Book Reviews
A Year of Reading
The Lowdown: Teachers Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn review new children’s books.
Why We Love It: The reviews are always teacher-focused, pinpointing possible readers as well as how a book might be used in the classroom.
Why They Love Blogging: Says Sibberson, “The writing helps us stay current on books and with teaching.”
7. Best Student-Written Blog
The Lowdown: Students and their teachers participate in a “colossal ongoing discussion about everything” via podcasts, videos, and blogs.
Why We Love It: This blog turns the typical student-teacher relationship on its head with both parties acting as equals and learning from each other.
8. Best Laugh-Out-Loud Blog
Regurgitated Alpha Bits
The Lowdown: An anonymous elementary school teacher blogs about the students she loves and the job she hates.
Why We Love It: This blog gives you totally true antics of the elementary school kind and tips you can really use: Preview “educational” videos before showing and be alert for fourth-grade make-out sessions! Perfect with a good cup of coffee, when you need to block out irritating colleagues, and when you could use a good laugh to start your day.
9. Best for Media Specialists
The Lowdown: Media specialist Cathy Jo Nelson provides tips on incorporating library technology into lessons.
Why We Love It: Nelson shares creative research ideas as well as humorous daily tidbits.
Why She Loves Blogging: Says Nelson, “It enhances my ability to be reflective, to see how I have learned from others.”
10. Best for Problem Solving
The Lowdown: Hear straight from Scholastic’s team of teacher advisors on topics ranging from reader’s workshop to discipline and organization.
Why We Love It: All of the photos and videos! Almost every post features a photo showing exactly how the teacher advisor implemented an idea in his or her classroom. You can also subscribe to the posts for just your grade level.
11. Best Substitute Secrets
Just a Substitute Teacher
The Lowdown: “Mr. Homework” tells harrowing tales of substitute life.
Why We Love It: Let’s be honest. Sometimes we’d rather come in sick than call in a sub. Mr. Homework, however, is one of the good guys. His outlook on the sub life (e.g., “Sometimes it’s not about actually teaching anything”) makes us wish he was in our district.
12. Best Classroom Use of Blogs
Learning Is Messy
The Lowdown: Brian Crosby discusses how he uses blogging and other technology in the classroom.
Why We Love It: Crosby’s creativity can’t help but draw us in. He has used Skype to broadcast a class visit from Christa McAuliffe’s mother and to communicate with a student who is on home instruction due to leukemia.
Why He Loves Blogging: Says Crosby, “It is the strongest resource I have experienced in 28 years of teaching.”
13. Best View of the Inner City
The Jose Vilson
The Lowdown: Artist, poet, and math educator Jose Vilson gives the inner city a human face by blogging about sometimes touchy topics.
Why We Love It: Vilson does not shy away from tackling the controversial, such as his entry about the shortage of black Latino male teachers like himself. He’s passionate about changing education and exposing inner-city reality, and his passion is contagious.
This article was originally published in 2009.