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Guest Post: Bobbi Capwell is a life long learner and extremely passionate educator, with over 32 years teaching experience in ELL Pre-Kindergarten, ELL Kindergarten, Head Start Kindergarten, ELL First Grade and Second Grade. She has held her current position as a Technology Integration Specialist for the past 12 years, which has allowed her to continue her passion for teaching. Bobbi loves that she is able to form a special relationship with all of her teachers, regardless of their age/grade/subject teaching area. She enjoys showing educators how to use and incorporate software, new technology, and  web tools with students in all classrooms.
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small plantI love learning and growing-that may sound sappy but it is the truth. I feel that learning is very similar to gardening. As a person that struggles with growing anything other than grass in my yard, it will sound even stranger! When I found myself getting frustrated, I had to remember that every plant grows at its own pace. I can learn at my own pace too but can I write? Sometimes I tend to forget my own learning and that is why I wanted to start a blog. I wanted to share what I was learning by writing it down. (In my head, I had planted the seed!)
I am not an experienced blogger by any means. When I started, I wanted my blog to be in full bloom to keep with the plant analogy! I wanted it to be one that visitors remembered and to follow. (What was I thinking???) I discovered that it is much harder than I expected it to be. med plantI had every self doubt imaginable! I had missed some crucial steps. I have 12 half-finished blog entries now because I lost focus or got sidetracked or just thought they were not good enough. Much like a transplanted seedling in the wrong soil, I wasn’t growing nor was my blog-we were wilting on the vine.  The more I tried, the more I was flooded with words that never got to my blog.  It sat there for several months without anything added to it. My blog was dying! What could I do?
I asked my friends in my Personalized Learning Network for help and direction. I had incredible support from three of my friends: Susan Oxnevad, Rafranz Davis, and Walter O. Duncan. You should include them in your PLN too!  This is what they told me to keep my blog from withering away!
They told me to first to relax (My thoughts are in parenthesis) (Never have but there is always a first time!) and then:

  1. Write from your own experiences: (Don’t try to be someone you are not! Really? I want to be like you – Ya’ll are such a Wordsmiths.)
  2. Write it for you: (I don’t write in a reflective journal except in a required classroom environment! You want me to do it on my own?)
  3. Write like you talk: (Oh great! That means sarcasm will show up for sure! No one will want to read that!)
  4. Include images that pertain to your topic: (Don’t use them just to use them – make them relevant)
  5. Write entries consistently not once every year but weekly! (Are you serious? Do you know how long it takes to write one?)
  6. Write down things that you want to learn about or sites you have been to (Do they know I have a folder with links to go back and explore more?)
  7. Be a good digital Citizen. Give credit for things you use from quotes to images! (Yes, I do that)

I started to read /explore blogs every chance I got. I found blogs on every curriculum area and topic that was relative to my position as a Technology Integration Specialist.  I also noticed that I saw those same people on Twitter.  Was there a connection? Yes, there was because once you write 140 characters and can be comfortable with that a paragraph comes easier and your thought progresses. Wahoo! I think I get the idea. I continued to read, I noticed that amazingly, my three friends were right!  (Not that I doubted their expertise just my ability.)
It was as if everybody knew the formula but me. How was it that they all had the same formula? I believe it was because they knew to start small and grow. I even checked out a webinar or 2 from SimpleK12’s Building Your Own Website or Blog with Word Press by Jerry Swiatek.  He too suggested the same things that my friends had already told me. (I know amazing, right?) Take your time and follow the steps above and you can will write a blog too. Your blog will grow and you will look forward to writing it and sharing what you are learning!
So, I leave you today with a list of my favorite blogs for inspiration and remember you can write also but remember to write it for you and watch it grow!

Blog Author Twitter
Cool Tools for 21st Learners Susan Oxnevad @soxnevad
Confessions of a Tech Specialist Rafranz Davis @rafranzdavis
The Quick Key Blog Walter O. Duncan @4_teachers
Free Technology for Teachers Richard Bryne @ rmbryne
The Innovative Educator Lisa Nielsen @InnovativeEdu
friEDTechnology Amy Mayer @friEDTechnology
21st CenturyCollaborative Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach @PLPNetwork
Teacher Rebootcamp Shelley Terrell @ shellterrell