Best Group Blog 2006 Finalists

Digital Chalkie is an open group blog for Australian (and beyond) K-12 educators interested in the power of ICTs to enhance educational outcomes. The domain name uses the word ‘chalkie’ as an affectionately defunct Australian term for teachers. The goal is to establish a vibrant hub/magazine/think-tank for teachers to support each other and to collaborate in the use of ICT. As a groupblog users have been:

– Providing technical assistance to other teachers and trainee practitioners
– Discussing educational issues, particularly related to learning technology
– Sharing discoveries, resources, accomplishments, excitement and areas of interest
– Presenting ideas for integration of learning technology into the curriculum

A feature of Digital Chalkie is a regular live webcast on the Worldbriges Network run by Brad Hicks and Paul Reid. We have covered topics such as Blogging in the Classroom, RSS for teachers, Podcasting in Education, and WordPress in Education. These discussions are also archived as podcasts.

Maintained by Paul Reid, and based in Western Australia, Digital Chalkie aims to allow geographically disparate Australian educators to collaborate beyond the closed and often very useful discussions that go on behind email listserves. Australian contributors have included Kim Flintoff, Brad Hicks, Terri Van Zetten, Rod Blitvich, Steve Adcock, Reg Whitely, Mark Weber, Richard Ure, Yvonne Harrison, Bryn Jones, Paul Fuller, Jenny Ashby, Cameron Bell, Anne Baird, and John Pearce. Our webcast discussions have also involved educators in North America and South East Asia. We are very excited to have received this nomination and grateful for the support.

We’re excited to be nominated for an EduBlog Award! Producing the Infinite Thinking Machine blog and video podcasts is so much fun that it doesn’t even seem like work. And we’re very thankful for the great response we’ve received from the K-12 community so far.

Our shows and website are designed to spark dialogue and help educators explore a wide range of innovative ideas. Through an active blog, an Internet TV show, and other media resources, we showcase examples of innovative instructional methods, talk with leading experts, and share real stories from the classroom to improve how we think, learn, teach, and live. And we try to have a little fun along the way.

The ITM is a wonderful collaboration between an amazing team of K-12 innovators from across the globe: Lucie deLaBruere (St. Albans, VT, USA), Julie Duffield (San Francisco, CA, USA), Wesley Fryer (Oklahoma City, OK, USA), Lucy Gray (Chicago, IL, USA), Steve Hargadon (Granite Bay, CA, USA), Tom March (Mittagong, Australia), and Mark Wagner (Irvine, CA, USA) are true superstars. Their insightful posts provide classroom teachers with a great mix of inspiration and practicality. We’re also fortunate to have the support of so many great organizations, including: Computer Using Educators, Discovery Education, Google, ISTE, KZO Webcasting, and WestEd. In many ways, we feel like we’re breaking new ground by bringing together such a wide range of organizations that deeply care about K-12 education. We hope that our combined energy and creativity can can jump start a wider conversation about innovation and creativity in our schools, and we look forward to hearing your ideas and feedback.

Thanks again for the nomination, and good luck to all the other nominees!

Wow…what an honour to be nominated. The success of Polar Science 2006 was truly a group effort, and it is wonderful to be recognized in the “Best Group Blog” category. Thank you!

The whole Polar Science team is thrilled to have been nominated for a 2006 Edublog Award! Polar Science in an online collaborative project for K-12 students and teachers, and has been developed by YES I Can! Science. We are hosted by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The project is coordinated by Diane Hammond, Susan Stiff, and Dr. Tom Stiff. Polar Science 2006 had bloggers from across Canada and the U.S., as well as Japan, Italy, Croatia, Australia and New Zealand. We designed the Polar Science collaborative learning environment to allow teachers and students, (aged 8-18), to take part first-hand in the research of Dr. Shane Kanatous and his “Ice Team” in Antarctica , and Canadian biophysicist, Dr. Thomas Hawke and his “Lab Team” in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Kanatous leads a team of scientists who have travelled to McMurdo Station in Antarctica to study the biology of Weddell Seals, and Dr. Hawke leads his team of graduate students in his lab, as they analyze the samples sent by the Ice Team.

In designing the site we wanted to give students, teachers and researchers the most effective communication tools to share updates and photos from the expedition, compare results of student investigations, ask and answer questions, and reflect on learning. Individual and team blogs have proven to be very effective communication tools throughout the project. Visit the site to read the blogs from both the Ice and the Lab teams, and to access the student blogs.

Best wishes to all nominees!

Four teachers–Paul Allison , Lee Baber, Susan Ettenheim, and Thomas Locke–are mainly responsible for this blog, podcast, and webcast. Toward the beginning of 2006, a few of us in New York City began to meet via Skype. In the spring of 2006 we began webcasting with the help of Jeff Lebow and Dave Cormier of WorldBridges.

Every Wednesday evening at 9:00 EST (Americas) we get together and talk about our teaching. These conversations are archived as a podcast on this blog. Together we are searching for the most effective practices in technology, studying research, and improving our knowledge of new media by using it oursleves. We have two purposes: developing teacher knowledge and leadership in our own schools and districts and putting this knowledge and leadership to work to improve student online reading and writing through the use of blogs, wikis, podcasts and webcasts.

After 9/11, there was a lot of talk about doing meaningful work. At the same time, Paul Allison [ Weblogs & Wikis & Feeds, Oh My! ] was finding himself being seduced by new forms of literacy on the Internet. An opportunity to become a “studio teacher” of technology at East Side Community High School, NYC presented itself in the Summer of 2002, and Paul has been at ESCHS ever since. Another community that Paul is a part of is the New York City Writing Project. He was a participant in the NYCWP’s Summer Invitational in 1985, and he has worked for the NYCWP in various ways ever since. Currently, with Felicia George, Paul is the NYC Technology Liaison for the National Writing Project.

Currently, Susan Ettenheim is having a lot of fun and finding great satisfaction teaching at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, M416 in New York City. Teb and Paul and the other teachers at the New York City Writing Project have been a great source of sharing and learning, a special precious time to get together and think through the adventures and experiences of the week. Her students challenge her and challenge themselves to push technology use to the next level, wherever that may take all of us

Now a New Yorker, Teb Locke is currently teaching science and technology to elementary students at The Neighborhood School PS 363 in the East Village. Recently, he has seen a particularly powerful example of this in his work with students on the NeigbhorhoodWiki. He is enthusiastic about the new opportunities afforded by the Internet to communicate with others and build communities of learners. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family, painting , playing guitar, and brewing beer. In the past year, he has also started a love affair with Ubuntu and is fascinated by the possibilities of using Linux and other open source solutions in education.

Currently, Lee Baber [ New Media Guides ] is teaching Computer Technology (8th Gd) in Rockingham County School System and developing new open-source resources for her county and her team at Worldbridges . Last year, Lee and Dave Cormier started a middle school Elgg project called Personal Learning Space which included a student webcast called SpaceCast with Barbara Dieu from Brazil and other participants. Now, since joining forces with Paul, Susan, Teb and Richard, the project has grown into a thriving student community with the addition of a high school Elgg, Youth Voices and a rich media mapping project .

“Our group blog and weekly meeting provide me with inspiration from our members and guests, incredible direction for writing projects and lesson plans, and a place to reflect, grow, collaborate and connect with versatile and talented professionals.”

The Fischbowl is a blog to support staff development efforts at Arapahoe High School in Centennial (just south of Denver), Colorado, USA. Arapahoe has a little over 2,100 9th through 12th grade students (typically 14 to 18 years old) and is part of Littleton Public Schools.

Karl Fisch, Director of Technology at Arapahoe, is the principal “author” of the blog, but contributors to the blog include 47 teachers at Arapahoe that are participating in our staff development efforts. In the beginning, the blog was simply a place to “continue the conversations” we had in our staff development meetings every two to three weeks, to extend the discussions beyond the time we had face to face. As time went on, we started to post more to the blog about relevant educational issues, new technologies, and whatever else might be related and thought-provoking for our teachers, even if it didn’t directly relate to what we had just talked about in staff development.

In addition, each of the participating teachers created their own personal blog, where we asked them to reflect on their own learning and teaching, on their thoughts and ideas about the topics we covered, and on any changes they implemented in their classrooms. As you might imagine, some teachers took to blogging and reflecting (in a public forum) more than others, and posting certainly tapers off as the school year progresses. You can find these blogs by looking on the right side of The Fischbowl under Personal Blogs – underneath those you’ll also see some of the Class Blogs that teachers created for use with their classes. As a side note, some students from those classes have also started commenting on The Fischbowl, lending a much needed student perspective to our discussions.

Contributing Teachers: Jessie Comp, Jesse Craig, Amanda Crosby, Michele Davis, Rob Escue, Brian Hatak, Ray Hawthorne, Roger Hess, James Holman, Kristin Kakos, Alison McBride, Melissa McGarvin-O’Melia, Brad Meyer, Anne Smith, Barbara Stahlhut, Cara Syers, Adam Wallace, Bill Boehm, Stacey Cornils, Jerry McWilliams, Jerry Knafelc, Karen Gerlich, Christine Zisch, Mark Hampshire, Missy Marchino, Emily Firchau, Micki Lillie, Lindsay Donaldson, Patty Melin, Jessica Greenless, Barbra Kitch, Eric Riordan, Jenny Seidel, Lary Kleeman, Jeff Krause, Greg Trotter, Terry Sale, Lauren Gaffney, Maura Moritz, Cheryl Makovsky, Marlys Ferrill, Missy Jonson, Jared Rottschafer, Andrea Korn, Joan Hitchens, Joe Holliman, and Andrea Bradley.

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3 responses to “Best Group Blog 2006 Finalists”

  1. I help produce the Infinite Thinking Machine, or ITM (, a free website for K-12 educators. Our blog and Internet TV shows give the average classroom teacher a “bazillion practical ideas” for turning the infinite universe of information into knowledge. Although Google sponsors the ITM, we focus on curriculum and instruction, not technology. We use plain English to help the average classroom teacher get the most from today’s innovative tools.

    Our fun, engaging shows have been well received by teachers so far. One teacher recently posted this comment: “Simply amazing guys – I think I got more ideas and mental stimulus in that 5 minutes than I have in a heck of a long time.”

    We’d love for you to check it out at

    If you like what you see, we’d love your help spreading the word through emails, newsletters, and word of mouth. And, of course, let us know if you have any great projects or resources that we should highlight on the ITM blog or shows!

    While you’re surfing around, you may want to check out the Google Education website at

    Thanks for helping us get the word out, and please let me know if you have any questions.


    Allison Merrick
    The ITM Team