Five Blogs You Need To Have In Your Feed Right Now

by Robert Pondiscio
August 24th, 2010

NYC teacher/blogger Jose Vilson offers Five Blogs You Need To Have In Your Feed Right Now.  Good idea, so I’m stealing it.

I treat my Google Reader like the starting lineup for the Indianapolis 500, with feeds running three across.  Joanne Jacobs, for example, has been at the upper left, or pole position, for a very long time.   The closer to the top, the more often I read it.   Once a blog slips toward the bottom, I read it only sporadically.   

Picking up on Jose’s meme, here are five blogs I now read avidly that are either recent additions to my feed reader–or that have elbowed their way toward the top: 

1. The Answer Sheet is the only “new blog” (it’s almost exactly a year old) to have cracked the top row of my feed reader.   I started reading it when it became the online home for Dan Willingham’s peerless writing about education.  Valerie Straus has become the sharpest, most opinionated voice on education in the mainstream media.  Honestly, I’m not sure how she gets away with it. 

2. Rick Hess Straight Up.    Hess has forgotten more about education than most of us will ever know.  The man ignores every blogging convention there is, cranking out long thoughtful, provocative posts day after day.  The most appealing thing about Hess as a writer and thinker is that he’s aggressively independent.  You think he’s on your side?  Here’s a thumb in your eye.

3. I’m a sucker for great writing and sound opinions grounded in actual classroom experience.  Jose Vilson included Nancy Flanagan’s Teacher in a Strange Land, which occupies a choice position in my feed reader.  But since this is about new blogs, I’ll recommend Walt Gardner’s Reality Check.  Gardner’s perspective is informed by nearly 30 years of teaching in Los Angeles, longer than most edubloggers have been alive. That’s hard-won authority.

4. In the process of writing this post, I realized that Get Schooled by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Maureen Downey needs to be much higher on my must-read list.  Downey is another smart, independent blogger who’s not shy about expressing her opinions and backs it up with good reporting.   Bonus: she’s attracted a large cadre of thoughtful, engaged commenters.

5. In fairness, Better Living Through Beowulf is not an edublog, per se.  By my own criteria, I should round out my list of five from among Education Next, Shanker Blog, RiShawn’s Biddle’s Dropout Nation, Linda Perlstein’s The Educated Reporter or Larry Ferlazzo’s blog, which have all found their way into my reader in the past year.  But BLTB features  thoughtful, personal and beautifully written ruminations of the human condition filtered through the lens of literature.  A brilliant defense of the liberal arts without even trying.

Two broad trends I notice in my blog reading via this exercise:  compared to a year ago, I’m paying more attention to teacher blogs and major news outlets; less to think tanks and ed tech blogs. 

And what are you reading?

7 Comments »

  1. Robert,

    Thanks for including me in your post, even though I didn’t make the top five :)

    Larry

    Comment by Larry Ferlazzo — August 24, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

  2. Thank you for pointing out Better Living Through Beowulf. I wasn’t aware of it.

    I can only handle a handful of blogs regularly, with a little extra poking around now and then, but now that I know of BLTB, I will just have to grow a bigger hand.

    A recent favorite is Larry Cuban’s blog. I don’t visit it often enough, but every time I do, I am glad.

    Comment by Diana Senechal — August 24, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

  3. What? No Flypaper or Gadfly? You have some explaining to do on that one.

    –pm

    Comment by Peter Meyer — August 25, 2010 @ 12:29 am

  4. Recent additions, Peter. You may be new to Flypaper. But Flypaper is not new to me.

    Comment by Robert Pondiscio — August 25, 2010 @ 12:37 am

  5. Thanks for mentioning Teacher in a Strange Land–and I agree that Walt Gardner is producing large quantities of very thoughtful and invigorating writing; I believe he has been suffering unawares from Pentupblogger Syndrome for several years and has now found blessed relief.

    I’s also put Answer Sheet in my top go-to list. Consistently the best showcase for provocative ideas and people. I like Larry Cuban’s blog, too. Many scholars start blogs, but find they don’t “have time” to post often. Sometimes that turns into a dead blog. But sometimes it means occasional, but incredible, meaningfulness. I’d put Mike Rose into that category, too.

    And I’m glad to hear that you’re turning to teacher blogs more often, Robert. Techie blogs have actually won the case they’ve been making for years: social networking and web-based publishing are how news gets dissected these days (witness the LA Times Testing Massacre story). Tech blogs have mostly turned into lists of tools and resources. And think tank blogs, some of which were “must read” even three years ago, frequently bankrupt themselves by infighting over obscure policy questions and behaving as if everyone knew everyone, the Policy World equivalent of the cool kids’ cafeteria table, in 8th grade.

    Teachers are on the front lines. Larry’s right: good company, indeed.

    Comment by Nancy Flanagan — August 25, 2010 @ 9:11 am

  6. As usual, you identify some of my favorites and add some new ones to my list — that’s why CK is on MY must-read list!

    I want to toss out a special thank-you for your mention of Better Living Through Beowulf. Robin Bates isn’t writing about education policy, as you acknowledge, but he understands how to teach and applies that knowledge in everything he does. Two of my American Literature classes last spring were fortunate to have him conference-call in with us to talk about Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” (and Prof. Bates’s own Vietnam-era experiences); the professor was gracious, thoughtful, provocative, and the epitome of scholarship. He gave my eighteen-months-before-college high-schoolers a wonderful education in what it’s like to be in a seminar.

    Comment by Carl Rosin — August 25, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

  7. Well, thanks for mentioning me and taking the meme to begin with. We need to proliferate the voices that aren’t heard and are at the front lines. That might be the proletarian heart in me, but I’ll always love a good story from a basketball player than an owner, a soldier than a high-ranking general, or a teacher instead of a chancellor. Sometimes, the latter in each situation can get interesting, but they’re often stuck in their own jargon, they forget to explain their rationale to actual people. Nice blog and I’ll pick up a few of these for sure.

    Comment by Jose — August 25, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

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