Yesterday was Sunday…a quiet Sunday and I was perusing Twitter. I discovered that Tom Barrett had started the #28daysofwriting challenge. Since I had had a blog post lingering in my brain for several days, it seemed like a good way to make posting it a priority. So, I posted and then tweeted that I was in on the challenge. I even signed the form.
Then, Monday rolled around and with it the usual Monday chores: a newsletter, online course checkins and feedback, a few extra issues that had come up and, did I mention, I was still sick with the hacking cough I have had since last week. It wasn’t until about 2 PM that I even thought about the challenge. And, I’ll admit, pretty quickly dismissed it with the thought that maybe before bed I could manage a couple minutes.
But then, there were the emails from Tom reminding me of my commitment. And, my tweet had been retweeted so lots more people had seen the commitment. I felt a little more committed with a community behind me. Now what?
I folded up the laptop and walked away for a bit. Took a cold pill to help silence the hack. Changed the sheets on the bed. Solved one of the extra issues that had come up. And then set the timer on my phone, opened up a new post, and started writing.
One of Tom’s suggestions for the challenge was to create a list of possible topics so that seemed like a good post idea. It will help you understand the kinds of things going on in my life and work that might make it onto the page in the next month:
Teaching: I am teaching A LOT this semester, from full blown college courses to shorter workshops. Most are online but I have taken on a face to face course for the first time in nearly three years and I am loving it! The course is a ftf version of an online course I teach for a different university and there are lots of possibilities for reflecting on the affordances and constraints of both formats. In addition, I incorporate a fair amount of social media in these courses in, I hope, meaningful ways. I’m working on a presentation for an online conference next week about how I do this and a blog entry or two will help flesh out that presentation.
Building Community: I retweeted Sylvia Duckworth’s graphic version of George Couros’s blog post about 8 things to look for in today’s class with the comment that I try to incorporate all 8 in the courses I teach for adults:
There are lots of opportunities for blog posts here in terms of reflecting on how I do this.
Stuff I Read: Yesterday’s post was a reading roundup of sorts, with short reflections on a couple articles that had caught my attention on Feedly. I’m making my students use Feedly this semester and they have had some good suggestions for new feeds. I’ve suggested they can use Feedly for their own writing fodder so I should be doing the same. In his challenge post, Tom writes about “not posting perfection,” a topic I addressed in the recent past myself. Twenty-eight minutes is enough time to get something in place but certainly not the epic post. Just enough time to think out loud, make a point, or share a sentiment. Reading and writing go hand in hand and I think I read more critically if I think I’m going to write about what I’ve read.
Finally, with just five minutes to go today, I’m wondering on the nature of writing blog posts. I have not been typing non stop for 28 minutes. I had to look up a couple links and copy the embed code for the tweet. Tom isn’t making a whole lot of restrictions so I’m including that bit of research and code into the writing process. Perhaps, as I dive deeper into the commitment, I shall have those links ready to go prior to setting the timer and “write” for the full time. But linking and embedding are indeed what make blog posts a bit different from journal entries as they tie the posts to the greater world, one of the original goals of the blogging platform. Linking and commenting were a way of making a community of writers who were also linking and commenting.
The last topic that has been floating around in my brain is about errant pigs as an analogy for those things we wish we could control but we can’t. I have a few real world errant pigs wandering around my farm right now. According to my husband, unlike the other pigs, they have no respect for the fence. That seems to me to be a pretty powerful idea for thinking about our students and ourselves. Where are the fences in our lives? And should we respect them? If we don’t, who is there with the stick to prod us back in?
A minute to go…I’m feeling good. A great thanks to Tom not just for the idea but the willingness to follow through and send those emails today. They helped, Tom. I’ve written and I’m pressing publish now. See you tomorrow!