I am currently reading the excellent Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III and Mark A. McDaniel. The way that story telling is interleaved with the research, and real life examples of the successful strategies for learning are used to show exactly how much of an impact they can have, is amazing.
But this post is about one particular part that I just read, and its implications for teachers, in particular with respect to blogging. In chapter 4, Embrace Difficulties, we learn about Bonnie Blodgett, a decorative gardener, who has taught herself everything she knows, as an example of the generation effect.
However, one particular aspect jumped out at me. When discussing the fact that Bonnie writes books describing her processes and techniques, the authors add that this is, in itself, a benefit to Bonnie's own development. In writing it down, Bonnie is engaging in retrieval (one of the best ways to improve memory) and elaboration (a great way to create connections between knowledge and hence make things easier to retrieve in the future).
And this struck me as one of the reasons that blogging is such a useful thing to do as a teacher. In writing a blog post, we are having to retrieve what it is we are writing about, and also elaborate on it, to make it both easier to read and easier to understand.
What better way is there to improve our own practice than reflecting on and writing about it? Be that something we did in class that went well, or something that went badly. Some new research we are trying to get our head round, or developing our subject knowledge.
So here's to making use of the strategies we promote students themselves use. Let's lead by example, and improve our teaching so our students can learn the most they possibly can.