Reader: Door to a Thousand Classrooms

posted Mar 19, 2011, 6:56 AM by Unknown user
Have you ever wished you had a superpower?  Personally I've always wished I had the power to stop and start time at will.  During the school day I could freeze what's going on in my classroom and visit those of other teachers around the world, seeing a variety of teaching tools and practices at work.  The next best thing, in my opinion, is reading the experiences of countless teachers though my Google Reader account each day.

Reader is a free tool that allows anyone to subscribe to and collect blog posts in one easy-to-use location.  It's a supercharged way to learn from those, accomplished and aspiring alike, who are doing something you would like to get better at.  While most of my subscriptions center around teaching and learning, Reader provides the flexibility to learn about virtually anything.  Students can benefit from this tool as well (and it is already part of our district Google Apps accounts); they could follow the stories of fellow athletes, writers, gamers, etc., and share their own experiences in turn.

Most of the blogs I subscribe to are classroom teachers like myself.  Some blogs, such as Free Technology for Teachers, Adventures in Online Teaching, and Cool Cat Teacher Blog, focus on technology in the classroom.  Others, including The Line and The Reading Workshop, are more centered around reading and writing.  I also subscribe to those who discuss the larger education policy and practices picture, such as Practical Theory. MeTA Musings, and The Tempered Radical.

I'm sad to say two of my favorite blogs, both projects of the National Writing Project, are in danger of disappearing forever.  Recent federal budget cuts have stripped several research-proven educational programs of their funding, including the National Writing Project and Teach for America.  While I have no direct experience with the NWP (though I have always wanted to be a part of their summer program in Maine), their work enriches my teaching practice daily. I rely on the NWP's Current Feed to bring me innovative writing strategies at work in classrooms around the country and the latest research on the craft of teaching writing.  The Opportunities Blog keeps me updated on grants and other resources available for my classroom.

Connecting with so many amazing individuals through Reader has convinced me that doors must go both ways.  Technology can bring me into the classrooms of more teachers than I ever dreamed, but I in turn must open my classroom and experiences to others as well.  It is for this reason I am proud to join so many others calling on our elected officials to restore funding for heroic educational initiatives such as the National Writing Project that improve educational experiences for our children.  We may not be superheroes, but together we can save the day!