Edublog Awards process for a few years, and even voting in the final round before, I've decided it's time for me to get involved at the grass-roots level by making some of my own nominations in 2011!
As many have lamented in other posts around the edubloggersphere, it is often difficult to pick the people/resources that are "the best," but if I look at it from the perspective of "Who has influenced/helped/inspired me most recently?" it makes the process a bit easier. I think giving a shout-out to these people/resources benefits the entire online educational community by highlighting great resources others may not know about and giving those of us less experienced in blogging and PLN building examples to learn from.
Here are my Edublog Awards nominations for 2011:
Best Individual Blog: Cool Cat Teacher by Vicki Davis - Vicki has been nominated for best teacher blog in the past and won the award in 2008, and she deserves every nomination and win. Her dedication to promoting the noble calling of the teaching profession and teaching digital citizenship to students through real-world, world-wide collaborative projects is inspiring. I rarely come away from reading one of her blog posts on these topics and others without having much food for thought to chew on. Best of all, Vicki is real in sharing her own questions and struggles, which makes her ideas and experiences that much more accessible to the rest of us. Vicki's blog helped inspire me to start blogging myself.
Best Individual Tweeter: @jdthomas7 aka Jeff Thomas - Jeff consistently tweets practical information and resources that add to my personal education and technology toolkit. I find myself passing his tweets along to my own followers quite often and appreciate the quality of what he shares.
Best New Blog: Terice T. Schneider's Digital Home by Terice Schneider - Terice has just gotten started with blogging this school year, but the information she is sharing about the 1:1 iPad initiative at a middle school in her district is invaluable to the edtech and education community as there is a lot of experimentation but very little quality reflection/documentation on what implementation looks like in this arena. Terice's post on what she would do differently before deploying iPads to 735 middle schoolers went wild on Twitter, so I know the information she is sharing is important to a wide audience. (As a disclaimer, I have worked with Terice before and know her personally, but this adds to my nomination of her because I know the thoughtfulness she puts into her work!)
Best EdTech/Resource Sharing Blog: Ask A Tech Teacher by Jacqui Murray - Jacqui shares technology tips based on questions she gets from parents, fully developed lesson plans for teaching technology to elementary students, and tips and techniques for managing and teaching in a student computer lab. Her resources are practical and classroom tested for teachers and technology specialists alike. Jacqui is also good about engaging with her readers when they leave comments or have questions and is equally gracious in promoting other bloggers by linking back to them when something they've written or posted inspires her to make a post.
Best Twitter Hashtag: #eduit - I am fairly certain Howard Chan (@socratech) started this hashtag a couple of years ago. It blends the educational side of technology with the technical side. I follow this hashtag to better understand the technical implications and aspects of some of the pedagogical/instructional initiatives that are going on in the edtech world. It has given me a heads-up on a few challenges ahead of projects we've started in our own district, and as a result I've been able to pass along helpful information to our technical staff before they hit the roadblocks themselves.
Best Librarian/Library Blog: WHS Library by Carolyn Foote - This library blog promotes traditional and digital literacy resources for students and teachers alike. Throughout the posts, you'll also see how Carolyn partners with instructional technology to promote their initiatives, including a 1:1 iPad program that her school has implemented this year.
Best School Administrator Blog: Reflections from an Elementary School Principal by Jessica Johnson - I was just recently introduced to Jessica when someone suggested I follow @PrincipalJ on Twitter. I love how Jessica is transparent about her own learning in her reflective blog posts as she documents her administrative experiences. She is providing a strong example of being a life-long learner for her students and teachers through her blog.
Best Free Web Tool: Thinkfinity.org sponsored by Verizon Foundation - Thinkfinity is 100% free and provides a one-stop-shop for educators who are looking for quality lesson plans and online resources. Through a partnership with nine highly-respected educational content providers, Thinkfinity provides a powerful search engine that will return results which have been vetted for their educational appropriateness and aligned to state teaching standards. In recent years Thinkfinity has expanded to include an online networking community for educators. When I get a last-moment request for a resource to support teaching and learning, I often start with Thinkfinity. In addition to providing quality resources, Thinkfinity is also dedicated to providing professional development to teachers so they can get the most out of the resources the site and its partners have to offer.
Best Use of Audio/Video/Visual/Podcast: Learn it in 5 by Mark Barnes - Learn it in 5 provides short, practical videos which classroom teachers can view to learn about how to use specific web tools in their classrooms. Mark is an experienced educator which makes the free tutorials extremely relevant to classroom practice.
Lifetime Achievement: Wesley Fryer - I have been following Wes's work and using his resources since my early days as an instructional technology facilitator. I first discovered him through his Tools for the TEKS website (no longer maintained), and in recent years I have been fortunate to continue to benefit from his ideas and resources via Twitter (@wfryer was one of the first people I looked for and followed when I joined Twitter) and his Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog. I could continue the list but Wes's CV speaks for itself. You might expect someone with so much experience and so many credentials to be arrogant or unapproachable, but in all of his online interactions and the few in-person presentations of his I have been fortunate enough to attend, Wes is kind and down-to-earth. He has consistently advocated for the advancement of educational technology integration by sharing the facts and benefits with authoritativeness that is respectful. I can think of no one more deserving of a Lifetime Achievement recognition than Wesley Fryer.
Wow, that took a lot longer to write than I thought! If you are interested in making nominations, visit this link for instructions, and please know that your "reasons" don't have to be as detailed as mine. I really wanted to give some kudos to the folks I listed, though, to let them know why their contributions are valuable to the online education community and to me personally.