’Tis the season for prizes, including the 2012 Edublog Awards. Announced yesterday, the winners and runners-up include “Best Individual Blog,” “Best Twitter Hashtag,” and “Best Individual Tweeter.”
Sponsored by blogging service Edublogs, the awards are determined by a nomination process open to the general public, and winners and runners-up are chosen by vote. The awards were started in 2004 as a response to schools, districts, and educational institutions blocking the use of social media with the intention of promoting the importance and relevancy of these sites.
SLJ’s “Cool Tools” columnist Richard Byrne garnered both “Best Ed Tech/Resource Sharing Blog” and a runner-up award for “Best Individual Blog” for his site Free Technology for Teachers, where he provides practical tips for incorporating technology into the classroom. From apps that help students keep track of homework assignments and platforms for peer tutoring, to infographics on the solar eclipse and programs providing an in-depth look at human anatomy, Byrne’s site has something for everyone.
Bibliophiles looking for a site melding tech and kid lit will appreciate John Schumacher’s (aka Mr. Schu) Watch. Connect. Read (pictured), which was runner-up in the “Best/library/librarian blog” category. Exploring the world of book trailers, Schu’s blog also features interviews with authors and illustrators, revisits Newbery and Caldecott-winning books, and recently included the highlights of a Twitter chat about the “Babymouse” and “Lunch Lady” graphic novels. “Best Library/librarian blog” winner, Educational Blog, Iliana Ilieva-Dabova shares tips and suggestions for Bulgarian teachers creating lesson plans.
For educators eager for apps but overwhelmed by the vast selection, there’s the Edublog category “Best Mobile App.”: The winner, Flying Books, is based upon William Joyce’s short film and picture book The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (Atheneum, 2012), the story of a man who follows a flying book into a library where he spends years working. Runners-up included apps for Dropbox, which lets users share videos and images, Evernote, for storing ideas and notes, and the Night Zookeeper Drawing Torch, a game that features animals and monsters and that lets players tap into their drawing abilities.
“Best Student Blog” and “Most Influential Blog Post” went to Jaden, a student in California who blogs on subjects ranging from the past presidential election to the “Hunger Games” series at Jaden’s Awesome Blog. In “Ten things I’ve learned from blogging,” the fifth-grader shared wise words about lessons learned while creating a social media presence. Tips: “When people are nice enough to comment on your blog, comment back so they will return to your blog,” “Don’t post pictures of yourself,” and “Add gadgets to make your blog the best it can be.”
The winner of the “Best Twitter Hashtag,” #UnfollowBullying was started by the Elk Grove Unified School District as a way to take a stance against cyber-bullying. Best Hashtag runners-up included #comments4kids, providing ways for students and teachers to find blogs they’d like to comment on, and #slpeeps, for speech and language professionals.
Making the most of Twitter was a common thread in this year’s awards. The runner-up for “Most Influential Blog Post,” “Nomenclature and basic functions of Twitter” by Lexical Linguist, for example, gives novices a “101” introduction to the social media platform, sharing pointers about hashtags, privacy issues, and how to interact with other users.
Other winners included Jamie Forshey, instructional technology coach and teacher at the Bellwood-Antis School District in Central PA, who took “Best New Blog,” for Edutech for Teachers and Tim Rylands, an experienced teacher from the UK known for his integration computer games and technology into the classroom, who won Edublog’s “Lifetime Achievement” award.