When Department of Education chair Patricia Stohr-Hunt wanted to include blogging as a part of her student-teaching class’s curriculum, she decided she needed to first figure out how Web logs, commonly called blogs, worked.

Stohr-Hunt teaches education classes on how to integrate reading and children’s literature into teaching math, science and social studies, and she created her blog with this topic in mind.

“I started mine just to get a feel for blogging, but it gets addictive!” Stohr-Hunt said. Her blog is called the Miss Rumphius Effect, after a children’s book, whose title character wants to make the world more beautiful. The blog is written for teachers and focuses on how to combine reading with other subjects in the classroom.

“There’s now such an emphasis on reading in our schools, that sometimes other subjects are given less time,” Stohr-Hunt explains. Her blog has reviews and thematic lists of books for different areas of teaching. “Picture books, both fiction and nonfiction, like counting books, can be used to help kids with science and math.”

The blog has not only benefited other teachers, a group of whom regularly comment on the daily posts, but also has helped Stohr-Hunt in her own classroom.

“Writing this blog has gotten me to think about the things I teach in different ways,” she adds. And it’s important for her students too. Stohr-Hunt says that by educating her students with teaching methods that integrate reading into other subjects, they can understand the theory of how kids learn. She calls it "making learning meaningful." Not only that, but when a picture book about a worm can be used to teach science, it makes learning fun.

Stohr-Hunt’s students now use blogs in her field practicum class. When taking this class, students spend an hour, one or two times a week, teaching in the classroom. Where they used to journal on paper about their experiences, they now post online entries that their fellow students can read. Stohr-Hunt visits the blogs and posts comments.

“For me, it’s an easier way to keep up with what’s happening with them in the classroom and easier for me to give feedback as well,” she explained.

Stohr-Hunt became so dedicated to her own blog that when she went on a faculty seminar to China, Tibet and Taiwan six months after starting it, she wrote every day about her experiences. That is, until it was shut down by the Chinese government.

“I made a comment about soldiers in Tibet and the next day when I logged on, it said ‘forbidden.’ I was circumspect about what I wrote, but I couldn’t access my blog again until I was back in the States.”

Stohr-Hunt now adds new features to her blog whenever she can. Last summer, she came up with the “Weekly Poetry Stretch,” which is a poetry challenge in which entries must fit into different forms or topics. Stohr-Hunt takes the challenge herself because, she says, it keeps her writing every week. She also comments on the blogs of those who comment on hers.

“It’s like community, because all the children’s literature bloggers know each other through reading and commenting.” Stohr-Hunt says.

The Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (CYBILs), are well-known in Stohr-Hunt’s online community and as a member of the nonfiction picture book judging panel, she has been posting book reviews almost daily.

Her blog was recently recognized as a finalist in the 2007 Weblog Awards and won a “Blog of the Day” award.

Stohr-Hunt plans to continue blogging and encouraging her students to blog as well. She was recently awarded an iPod grant to incorporate iPods into her classroom next semester. She plans to podcast lectures and encourage her students to incorporate podcasts on their blogs.

“I’m excited about the grant,” Stohr-Hunt said. “This program, like blogging, is an avenue through which we can expand the way we teach using technology.”