Teachers blog!

Weblogg-ed's Will Richardson has a new book on teacher-blogging and the Boston Globe gives him some ink.

You know a trend is big when even teachers are doing it. And teachers are in fact blogging to inform parents about what's happening in the classroom. They are being received with mixed results, however, reports The Boston Globe.

Nobody has been keeping track of how teachers use their blogs but Will Richardson - a former teacher, author of the Weblogg-ed blog, and author of a new book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms - says that teachers blog about everything from Harry Potter to writing essays.

"I can whip out something in maybe five minutes and immediately post it," said Melanie Sullivan , a third-grade teacher in Needham, who started her first classroom blog last school year, when she taught first grade. "Parents just want to know what's going on. The more they know, the more they understand where you're coming from and what you're trying to accomplish in your room, the less they get upset."

Blogs are by definition an interactive medium. Throw a few teenage comments into the mix and a school can run into trouble. A former teacher at an Edgartown school on Martha's Vineyard, Bill MacKenty, encountered some problems last year on a blog for Edgartown middle-schoolers. In one case, basketball players deleted a girl's entry when she criticized their coach. In another instance, a teen from a different school posted a comment saying the fifth-graders sounded "stupid" for writing instant-message style, such as "I hope u r very excited."

In this case, MacKenty used the exchange as a teaching moment and suggested they politely discuss the issue, and told the fifth graders to write more legibly.

"This is new territory for us, man," MacKenty said. "Fifteen years ago, we didn't know what teenagers were thinking. Now they vent online, and a million people read it."

Administrators are very wary about protecting children's privacy as well as themselves from litigation. Schools might block comments or make blogs available to members only to protect students' privacy. One high school principal warned that all comments would be screened for appropriateness.

Blogs can be viewed as a threat to the status quo or an opportunity for self-expression.

"That's the potential," said Richardson. "You can bring authors. You can bring scientists. This really opens up a way to make distance irrelevant and to bring people who know more than we do about the topics into our classroom. You'd be surprised by how willing people are to do that."