Friday, January 22, 2010

Answering Some Reader Questions

The other day I had these questions in the comment section from a reader.  I thought I would make the answers into a post.

Hello! I am brand new to blogging. Your blog was on a "sample" list of blogs to preview. I am not a sp. ed teacher, but have all our school's sp. needs students in my art classes. The work you put into your blog is amazing--and helpful to sp. ed teachers. Just exploring a few blogs today has been sooo time consuming! When I saw your list of "Blogs I Read," I was bowled over! How do you find the time to do your own blog and keep track of all the others? Really, do you have a system? How do you prioritize and organize your "blogging" time?

Wow, this was on a list of blogs to look at?  That's interesting.  I think you will find some of your answers to your questions in this blog post.  I will also answer your questions here though.  First a little history.  I started this blog when I had ankle surgery the day before Thanksgiving about 3 years ago.  The idea was to keep myself busy during the two to three months of recovery.  I never, ever imagined that it would take off like it did.  If I had known I would have picked a shorted blog name!

My goal is to provide resources for other special needs teachers, particularly those who teach low incidence populations.  We tend to work in isolation and it can be so helpful to know there are others out there doing the same thing.  I know that general educators, parents of children with special needs and assistive technology professionals also find the site helpful and I am glad about that.  I think that writing this blog likely helps me more than it helps anyone else though.  It helps me keep on top of my professional development and keeps me organized with my theme units.  It also gives me a way to "be a know-it-all without being annoying" as I have said on this site before.

Of course one of the ways in which one becomes a know-it-all nerd (something I am often called) is having a "knowledge is power" attitude and when you have that attitude you tend to read everything you can, hence my blog roll.  I actually only post the blogs I read that are relevant in some way to special education on my blog so you're only seeing a fraction of them!  My favorite blogs to read are those by parents of children with special needs.  Their love for their children is just so profound and it helps me every day to read what they write; it reminds me to believe in their children and stay grounded in what we work on at the same time.  My second favorite blogs are those by others in the same field.  I adore that so many others have come to blogging and thank me for inspiring them.  It means so much to me to know that some day, when I just can't keep this up anymore there are others who will.

As far as the time thing, I used to have more time, before I took a job that meant ten hours or more a week in the car.  I must say the blog has suffered since that happened!  My number one priority is my own health, I can't be anything for my family or my students if I am not healthy.  After that my family and then my students/job.  Writing this blog enables me to give so much more to my students.  It lets me learn about resources for them.  It gives me access to people that can help me be a better teacher.  So, in reality I do it for me and I do it for them.

In reality one of the ways I find time for blogging is that I don't have kids (yet?) and I don't have a TV.  You would be amazed how much free time you have if you kill your television!  Essentially with that free time I sometimes surf the web.  When I surf the web I look for things I find interesting and often times they have to do with educating individuals with severe disabilities.  I might start out looking for lesson plans to use with my class related to safety with items that use electricity and end up discovering five sites that are good for people with developmental disabilities around safety or I might start looking for timers I can use to cue a student and end up with 50 links to various timers for purchase or for download.  Somewhere in that process I decide to make my research into a blog post. 

Practically I have a bunch of ways I keep ahead of what I want to post.  I use lots of web 2.0 features to stay on top of things.  I am one of those people who like to have lots and lots of tabs open in Firefox.  Just yesterday I had 67 tabs open and most of them were about Environmental Print (expect a post soon).  I love the "save all tabs" feature that lets me save all the open tabs in a folder.  Then I have them all when I am ready to write the blog entry.  I also will bookmark items in a folder called "Post to Blog" for times when I can't think of anything to write.  Sometimes things sit there for a day or two and sometimes months.  I often times get blog ideas from e-mail and Facebook notes, from people I know and sometimes strangers.  Sometimes I use them and sometimes I don't.  Both of my wonderful teaching assistants read my blog from time to time and will give me ideas and one, who is an excellent photographer, will take what we call "hands photos" that I can post and send them to me.  Finally when I know I have a busy week ahead I will write four or five blog entries and use Blogger's "Post Later" feature.  If you see blog posts that have a time stamp between midnight and seven in the morning that means I likely wrote it several days ago! 

That's about it.  Let me know if you have more questions.


  1. Your reader asked if you have a system for prioritizing and organizing your "blogging time."

    Checking each of your favorite blogs everyday for new posts can be time very consuming. I use Google Reader (free!!) because it congregates all the blogs I read into space, and organizes them by time and/or topic. It functions much like email-with read and unread items, so it is very easy to use.

    Hope this helps!

    Larry @ Oregon CEC

  2. Kate,
    Great response to how do you do it all. ALso I wanted to say thanks for putting the Perma Posts back up. I refer back to those frequently and missed them when they weren't there.

  3. Hello Orgeon CEC, I should have mentioned that I too use Google Reader. It makes following so many blogs easier and I can reader the blogs I follow on any computer, my Blackberry or my iTouch.

    Kris, I have been meaning to put the permaposts back up for a while. They were lost when I experimented with new formats. I had to re-enter each one by hand. Don't expect any new format soon. Well, ever!



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