Announcing edJEWcon’s Blogging Challenge


edJEWcon’s 18 Days of Blogging Challenge: Over the next few weeks edJEWcon will publish 18 Blogging Challenges to support you in becoming a blogger helping to transform Jewish Day School education ONE blog at a time. We encourage you to participate as part of becoming a connected Jewish Day School educator & administrator as well as reflective, 21st century learner.


Why does education need transformation?
The short answer is this: in a rapidly changing world, what worked 10 years ago, last year, even last month, may not be sufficient to meet the need to prepare students for the world of now and tomorrow. We must address problems that we’re only beginning to understand and teach skills for careers that haven’t yet been invented. There is an urgency to adjust the rate of change in education to the rate of change in our outside world.  “If a teacher is ONLY using the same resources and teaching the same skills they were using five years ago, they are guilty of educational malpractice.” Suan Yeo, Google Education Evangelist.

Why blogs as the vehicle for transformation? 
Blogs, depending on the needs, interests, voice, skills and situation of each unique blog owner, aid in personal reflection as well as being the vehicle to be exposed to and gaining skills and confidence in ALL modern litearcies (global, media, network, information & digital citizenship). Blogs also, whether being specifically used as portfolios or not, share best and innovative practices, document growth over time, become a landing page for our (professional) identities as learners to connect with a global audience and provide a place to curate and house resources for the use of oneself and others.


The challenges are strategically designed to help you get acquainted with the basics of blogging (creating pages and posts, process of writing and publishing text, images, audio and video, linking, reflecting and experimenting with different topics and styles of blogging).

The challenge rules are flexible. There are 18 days of challenges. Feel free to do one challenge a day or one challenge a week in order to complete the entire challenge. There is a strategic sequence to the challenges, but feel free to skip around. You could complete Challenge 16 before you do Challenge 4.

Please leave your Blog address (URL) in the comment section below to let us know you are participating in the challenge. Contact us, if you are in need of creating your own blog or need access to your school’s blog on edJEWcon.

The Challenge:

Each Challenge, as it is uploaded, will be linked from this post. You can also find all the posted challenges via the Blogging Challenge Category.

edJEWcon blogging Challenge.001

Challenge 1Write an About Me page

Challenge 2Your Blog’s Name & Tagline

Challenge 3- Hyperlink It

Challenge 4Categorize It

Challenge 51 Day Blue Challenge

Challenge 6Copyright & Creative Commons

Challenge 7Professional Goals

Challenge 8Quote

Challenge 9 Life as a Reader

Challenge 10Wild Card

Challenge 11Classroom/ Workspace

Challenge 12Book Review

Challenge 1330 Second Video Journal

Challenge 14A Day in your Life

Challenge 15Learn-Reflect-Share

Challenge 165 Favorite Blogs

Challenge 17 Amplify Reflection

Challenge 18Future Blog Posts


Beyond Pockets of Excellence in Blogging With Students

There are many, many pockets of excellence in classroom/student blogging out there. These blogs are driven, coached and nurtured by educators who “get it”. They get how blogging can make a difference in student learning, give them real world skills, support 21st century learning skills and literacies and at the same time basic reading and writing skills.


[insert a screeching sound of breaks] …then it STOPS!… Why?

The students move on from those teachers’ classes to the next grade level or school with a teacher who:

  • has never heard of blogs (hence does not use them)
  • sees blogs as an add on and too much work (Who has time to moderate and comment on so much student writing???)
  • uses blog posts as a digital space to collect typed up homework assignments (Instead of a new writing genre, capable of multi-layers, higher order thinking/writing skills and multi-dimensional)

You can visibly see the engagement, ownership and learning curve when you look at pockets of excellence, such as Linda Yollis’ 2nd/3rd grade blog or Kathy Cassidy’s 1st grade classroom and student blogs. We can assess the learning taking place of a set of students (during one grade level) with a committed-to-quality-blogging teacher.

What we CAN’T do with pockets of excellence is to track and identify LONG TERM gains in blogging as a LEARNING PLATFORM.  We need to find a way to create a school culture that values documentation, reflection sharing learning OVER TIME.

How are they:

  • coordinating efforts across grade levels to help teachers and students BUILD ON skills (ex. hyperlinked writing)
  • continuing to weave a thread that CONNECTS reflections (ex. self-portraits art pieces with a reflective text/audio/video piece attached)
  • giving evidence of learning at one particular moment in time and show growth ACROSS TIME (ex. presentation skills, math number sense, gross-motor skills, etc.)

Let’s look at a framework for teachers from Kindergarten to 8th grade, to make my own thinking visible in regards to classroom blogs and student blogfolios.


Each page addresses one grade level. Each grade level is divided into 2 main sections with the following subsections:

  • classroom blog
    1. teacher responsibilities
    2. student responsibilities (on classroom blog)
  • student blogfolios
    1. skills (new skills introduced at particular grade levels are highlighted in green)
    2. categories (trying to standardize categories to be used across grade levels. Ex. writing, reading, presentation, Science, Math, etc.)
    3. Reflection (examples of media that could be used to create a reflection in response to learning artifact)
    4. Examples of learning artifacts (Ex. Science fair presentation, About Me page, Self-portrait art work, visible thinking of solving a Math problem, etc.)

This framework was not created to be written in stone, but as a starting point for teachers to refer to, as they students are building skills of writing in digital spaces, become reflective learners and establish a positive digital footprint. It is meant to allow a progression of learning artifacts coupled with reflection paint a picture of each student’s learning journey throughout their school years. The framework is to guide teachers in providing a smooth transition from one grade level to another and ensure a continuation AND growth in skills.

You can also download the Blogfolios Framework as a PDF file.










Blogging As Pedagogy

Blogging should not be an add-on, not an isolated project, but should be seen as PEDAGOGY.

Ann Davis shared a definition of Pedagogy beyond a simple “method of teaching” (unfortunately I was not able to find a source of the definition… it seems to be floating around in so many spaces without a common attribution or source.)

The strategies, techniques, and approaches that teachers can use to facilitate learning.

Blogging can support the strategies, techniques and approaches to facilitate the learning in your classroom no matter what grade level, age group and subject area. Blogging supports four primary areas:

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Reflecting
  4. Sharing

In each one of these areas, blogging can be a strategy to facilitate learning

  1. Reading
    1. in digital spaces support students’ skills in our increasingly digital reading environment
    2. becomes a personalized content experience versus one size fits all approach
    3. turns into a collaborative and connected experience
    4. in digital spaces supports organization via archiving, categorizing and tagging of information
    5. blogs is the start that continues to deepen with writing on blogging platforms
    6. is part of research with non- linear platforms
    7. is an essential component of content curation
    8. supports content annotation which links to future writing
  2. Writing
    1. is about more than text (how do we communicate in a variety of media forms?)
    2. gives students choices to communicate ideas in different media platforms
    3. on a blog is writing for an audience
    4. is about a conversation through commenting
    5. becomes multi-layered and non-linear by using hyperlinks to connect ideas, concepts and resources
    6. in digital spaces give students skills for our increasingly digital world
  3. Reflecting
    1. can’t be just for reflection sake, but needs to drive improvement
    2. is the basis of re-evaluating your teaching and practices
    3. techniques can be supported by Making Thinking Visible Routines
    4. is part of a meta-cognitive (thinking about your thinking) process
  4. Sharing
    1. is part of the feedback loop
    2. is an integral part of the process of learning
    3. is how you disseminate your students’ work to a global audience
    4. as a technique of building and maintaining a digital footprint
    5. is the foundation of a remix culture

blogging as pedagogyHow are you using blogging as a strategy, a technique and an approach to facilitate learning? Let’s make it visible for others contemplating blogging with their students?

Blogging Through the Lens of SAMR

A blog used as a platform can serve many purposes. It can be the platform :

  • for a simple and static website, where information is  being shared out periodically
  • to replace a traditional newsletter that serves as a school/home communication
  • that serves as a hub for a local classroom learning community
  • that can become a global communication hub, where students and teachers connect, communicate and collaborate with the world



In order to use a blog to its full potential, it serves to take a closer look at the SAMR model by Ruben Puentedura as well as Alan November’s ideas around the stages of automating and informating.

SAMR model

Automating and Informating

I have learned about two ways to think about technology: one is called automating, the other is called informating. One will give you incremental improvement; the other will give you big improvement. Unfortunately schools and technology planning tend to focus on automating. This means that you bolt technology on top of what you’re already doing. Most of the investment in education is automating. We have kids write a five-paragraph essay with a $2,000 pencil in a word processing lab. The best improvement you can hope for if you automate is incremental. For example, if we automate report cards, the result is we have prettier report cards, but we don’t improve learning.You get very different results when you informate. The real revolution is information and communication, not technology. Let go of the word technology. If you focus on it, then you’ll just do what you’re already doing. The trick in planning as we move forward is to think about information systems, whole systems of the flow of information and communication.

How can we use the blog as a platform to TRANSFORM teaching and learning and not only SUBSTITUTE activities and tasks that we have done in the past without a blogging platform?


The step from using a static website or emails as a mean to share announcements or calendar items to sharing the same type of items on a blogging platform is not far nor a steep step. But the ultimate goal for using a classroom blog or student blogfolios though, is that of creating transformative teaching and learning opportunities, not to have a platform that substitutes a composition book or paper journal. 

First let’s look at  a Classroom Blog  through the lens of SAMR

Substitution– technology acts as a direct substitute for the task

  • The classroom blog is used as a tool to substitute a handwritten/typed and printed newsletter.
  • The teacher shares announcements and communicates important classroom/school related information with parents. the blog might also get updated with weekly homework assignments or lesson plans.
  • The content is mainly in a text format and gets updated on a once-a-week or monthly basis.

Augmentation– technology acts as a direct tool substitution with functional improvement

  • The classroom blog is used as an online static website to communicate classroom happenings, calendar items and homework assignments.
  • Teacher creates items for students and parents to view.
  • These might include images, video and audio.
  • The blogs gets updated more frequently.
  • Readers can subscribe via RSS or via email to updates published by the teacher.


Modification– technology allows for significant task redesign

  • The classroom blog is used by teachers and students to create and reflect around learning in the classroom.
  • Students post to the blog via guest posts about topics of their interest and passion.
  • They contribute multimedia artifacts or collaborate by publishing and sharing their classroom notes.
  • Students leave comments  to add value, meaning, perspective or additional resources to posts created by their teacher and/or peers.
  • Content gets labeled/ categorized to make searching for specific items, previously posted, easier.

Redefinition– technology allows for the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable

  • The classroom blog has become the central hub for documenting learning, sharing of resources and multimedia created by teacher and students.
  • The teacher actively and strategically connects students to experts and peers from around the world via the hub to connect, communicate and collaborate on topics of study and interests.
  • An avid conversation is unfolding via blog authors and commenters from around the world.


What about Student Blogs?

Substitution– technology acts as a direct substitute for the task

  • A student uses the blog as a tool to substitute a handwritten/typed and printed assignment.
  • The student copies and pastes a Google Doc or other file from a word processing program into a blog post.
  • The comments on the blog are closed or not being utilized.
  • Students might upload a scanned image of an analog test score, worksheet or other analog artifact.
  • Students might answer a prompt or question posed by teacher to the entire class.
  • There is no added value to the learning process versus the analog task.

Augmentation– technology acts as a direct tool substitution with functional improvement

  • Students use their blog as a platform to publish assignments (research papers, essays, responses) for their teacher to see.
  • The blog is a place to push out information, possibly for Student Led Conferences or a showcase/process portfolio.
  • They insert or embed images, videos, presentations or audio to support their written text.
  • They possibly insert hyperlinks to additional resources.
  • Students tag and categorize their posts with searchable labels.
  • The blog platform becomes a digital organization of students’ online learning records, which is centralized, archived and searchable.
  • Teachers use the comment section to give feedback to their students about their performance.
  • Classmates read each other’s papers and leave comments.


Modification– technology allows for significant task redesign

  • Students use hyperlinked writing as part of digital writing process to show and connect their thinking to topics, influences, relationships and process between previously published content and external resources.
  • Students communicate beyond the written word, in multimedia and transmedia ways.
  • It is evident in their work that they are writing with a global audience in mind and their work encourages conversation, invites multiple perspectives to add and influence their work.
  • Students receive constructive feedback from peers as part of the writing process.
  • Comments inform students’ writing and original task of “paper” extends and “spills over” into the comment section, altering form of writing piece as well notion of “completion” of paper.
  • Students are demonstrating writing skills for digital spaces, by observing digital citizenship, hyperlinked, networked, peer- connected and non- linear writing.

Redefinition– technology allows for the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable

  • The student blog becomes an embedded part of the process and a natural extension of communication and learning cycle by documenting evidence of learning, reflecting, sharing and receiving feedback in order to consider revision.
  • Teachers and students actively and strategically disseminate and connect the blogs to a learning network for feedback and resources.
  • The blog archives artifacts, reflections and connects learning over time.
  • The blog becomes a natural extension beyond assigned academic work and is being used as a hub to document students’ learning, demonstrating self-directed and self-motivated lifelong learning habits as they are organizing, building and maintaining their own online learning records, a growing academic digital footprint and develop their personal brand as well as personal learning networks.



Where does your current classroom blog or your students’ blogs fall when looking through the lens of SAMR?

Transforming Jewish Education ONE BLOG at a Time

We’ve been working on clarifying our communication about who we are and what we do. The biggest challenge of edJEWcon has been explaining edJEWcon. edJEWcon began as a school-based conference. We invited other Jewish educators to see and experience what was happening at the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School in Jacksonville where we were experimenting with ideas and openly reflecting on the process. edJEWcon itself, as an innovative organization, has had to experiment and reflect, grow and adapt as we’ve evolved from conference to coaching and thought leadership, one school to many schools. Through this process, what has always remained constant has been the commitment to our vision and core values.


Jewish day schools have the unique capacity to transform teaching and learning in alignment with new standards and pedagogies.

Core Values:

We’ve recognized the need to hone in on a clear and concise mission that answers the question in a way that everyone can clearly understand. And we’re excited to share it with you:

edJEWcon: Transforming Jewish education one blog at a time


In the past, we’ve shied away from embracing a particular tool or a platform, preferring to keep focused on the big ideas and mindset of learning in the modern age. After all, tools change. However, blogs (and blogfolios: blogs that are used as digital portfolios) have proven to be THE platform that provides the perfect framework to support ALL of edJEWcon’s core values and advance them from ideas to realities.

How does introducing blogs to teachers and schools transform education through edJEWcon’s core values? And why does education need to be transformed?

Let’s answer the second question first.

Why does education need transformation?
The short answer is this: in a rapidly changing world, what worked 10 years ago, last year, even last month, may not be sufficient to meet the need to prepare students for the world of now and tomorrow. We must address problems that we’re only beginning to understand and teach skills for careers that haven’t yet been invented.

Why blogs as the vehicle for transformation? 
Blogs are a blank slate, a seed that can be grown into any kind of fruit or flower depending on the needs, interests, voice, skills and situation of each unique blog “owner.” Blogs also, whether being specifically used as portfolios or not, document growth over time and provide a place to house resources for the use of oneself and others.

Let’s look at edJEWcon’s core values and the connection to blogs as a platform for their actualization.


Transparency: an openness to sharing our process of thinking, trying, and learning, including any mistakes or missteps, as well as how we addressed issues and moved forward.

Risk-taking: “Most of the things that we do have two possible outcomes: they might work or they might not. Being able to live with the possibility of either is essential if we’re going to move forward.” –Seth Godin

Innovation: to stay up to date with the latest educational technology and literacy skills. Innovation happens through learning, researching, communicating, and creating with 21st century tools.

Reflection: “We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.”- John Dewey
“If you are not thinking about what you are learning, you probably are not learning.” –Jim Knight

Sharing: a habit of mind that the work we do belongs to the collective, that our piece is one part of a larger puzzle that is lacking without our contribution of our work, thoughts, process, ideas, and products. According to Dean Shareski, teachers have a moral imperative to share.

Collaboration: We live in a connected world and must work, often and well, with others. The sum is greater than the whole of its parts.

When we think about these values, how to live our experience them and where to show our evidence of that experience, the blog is the platform. Using the blog to document our process of taking risks and trying new things, sharing our learning and experiences and reflecting openly, is the definition of transparency. The kinds of skills and literacies we need to blog are the same ones usually referred to as “21st century” skills and literacies. By sharing our work, we invite connection and collaboration from colleagues far beyond our four-walled structures.