There is a current blog challenge floating around the ELT twittersphere, prompted by this post. So, needing to take a break from lesson planning and research, I thought I’d give a little behind-the-scenes look at both my blogs – AnthonyTeacher.com and ELT Research Bites.
Evolution of a Blog
AnthonyTeacher.com first started out in 2010 not as a blog but as a WordPress-hosted LMS. I wanted to extend my students’ learning and opportunities beyond the classroom and wanted something highly tailored to my own needs and design principles, so I used WordPress as a base. I set up various classes and had many complicated plugins to run it as a fully featured, customized LMS. In 2012, for various reasons, AnthonyTeacher.com morphed from LMS to half-LMS / half-blog, and then to full-blown blog. Its use as an LMS declined because I was tired of setting up classes and redesigning aspects of the blog every 6 months in order to make it more streamlined or feature rich. It started morphing into a blog after joining Twitter. I had done some blogging before, but never with any consistency or audience. However, after reading a number of blog posts from others in the field, I was inspired. My main inspiration was Mike Griffin. I still wish I could emulate his humorous, tongue-in-cheek writing style.
Fast forward to 2017: now, I run a somewhat popular blog and mainly write about my teaching experiences, reflections on teaching and learning, my thoughts on various aspects of the field, and research.
I like to write about experiences in the classroom. I also like to pilot ideas or run projects in my classroom and keep in mind throughout the entire process how I would like to share them on my blog when the term finishes. So, a lot of my content is based on wanting to share my experiments and trials in class, and a lot of my work in class is done with sharing and blogging in mind. This type of writing also gives me a chance to reflect (a very personal thing) and get feedback from others. Both of these things – the power of reflection and the usefulness of feedback – have kept me blogging since 2012
I also read a lot of research in my spare time. Google Scholar is probably my favorite website! I have a large “to read” folder with various articles I hope to get to. I typically add two or three a week – a very bad habit. Some of this research is intended for ELT Research Bites, but for some of it, where I have an opinion or I find it more valuable to synthesize, evaluate, and add my own perspective, I often use them for AnthonyTeacher.com. How I find the research varies. Sometimes I just look for recent articles on a topic I’m currently interested in or curious about. Sometimes it is a recommended article: Science Direct has a great feature that recommends related articles to the one you are looking at, and I have found many this way. Sometimes it is a reference in another article, and sometimes I find a reference in that article and soon I am three or four articles deep in what I call the “falling down the rabbit hole” of research. Despite the number of interesting articles I accumulate but likely won’t read (for a long time)I really enjoy that feeling of falling.