Pioneers of “Blogging”

Blogging

Before there were blogs there were webmasters.  I refer to them as the pioneers of online teacher sites.  There weren’t many, but their sites were well visited, and highly revered as places you could go to get fantastic resources.  Oh, and back then there was no such thing as Teachers Play Teachers.  If one wanted to sell their creations, they had to figure out a different way to do so.  Truth be told, the vast majority of webmasters shared freely.

I remember visiting these sites frequently to see what was new.  It was a daily or weekly affair checking out these websites because RSS feeds such as Bloglovin’ and Feedly were non existent.  In fact, to share updates with visitors, a web author had to publish a list of updates, and in order for visitors to know about updates, they had to manually visit the site!  There may have been email newsletter updates, but the most typical way to check on a site’s progress was to actually visit it.  Oh the advances in technology!

I want to highlight a few of the webmasters that come to mind and basically give a huge shout out for their trendsetting and pioneering efforts.  Although I talk about these sites in the past tense, please realize that some of the sites are still active and updated.

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First up?  Kelly’s Kindergarten!  My favorite feature on her site was her Dollar Store Deals.  She’d highlight what could be found at the Dollar Tree and what could be done with it all.  So fun!  She had pictures and of course free printables.

Next up…Teaching Heart.  Colleen’s unit studies were so comprehensive.  They included literature tie-ins, poetry and songs, art, science, and math.  It was on Colleen’s site that I learned the real value of using pocket charts and incorporating predictable charts.

Hubbard’s Cupboard was anything BUT bare — like Old Mother Hubbard’s was!  I loved Michelle’s resources for literacy and math.  Her “suggested resources” at the end of each of her resource pages were also a time saver for busy teachers.

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Six Traits has been around for a long time.  It’s stood the test of time and still remains a part of my writing workshop.  I remember running across Kimberly Steele’s site, and was floored by the comprehensive 6-Traits ideas she shared on her site, Kim’s Korner.

The next featured site looks drastically different now; however, the tone, feel, and overall awesomeness are still present in its current form.  You know her as Angela Watson, but before she got married she was Angela Powell, and her site packed a punch.  It was full of fantastic management and organization ideas.  You can get all of the lovely goodness her site had to offer in her book.  I refer to it as a “site turned book” book!

Marcia’s Lesson Links was my go to place for free emergent readers.  My students loved them and learned so much as beginning readers and writers.  I also loved that her site’s title built was with Scrabble tiles!

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Mrs. McGowan was probably the first place where I discovered “Internet Projects” — where classes from across the globe worked collaboratively.  There were leaf exchanges, post card exchanges, you name it!  Talk about making the world a smaller place and giving our kids a “global perspective!”

My first “teacher created” resource purchase was from Kinder Korner.  I bought all of her “Happy” poems and “Good Morning” songs.  Back in the day (and even now) I rarely, if ever purchased teacher created materials.  Not because I didn’t (or don’t) support their efforts, but I just find that I prefer to create my own.  I was glad to have had the chance to purchase Victoria’s resources though, because they saved me time and there wasn’t ONE SINGLE THING that I would have changed after receiving the digital resources.

I loved the name of the next featured site — The Virtual Vine.  Cindy not only shared her own ideas, but gave other teachers a voice on her site too.  In addition, she helped others build their own sites, offering website building tutorials, tips, and tricks!

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Jennifer, from Kinderpond, hails from the GREAT state of Wisconsin!  Yay!  Her site was my go to resource for graphing ideas.  Oh, she pushed me (and taught me) to be cool and add a favicon to my (back then) site.

Maggie’s Kinder Corner was chock full of literacy ideas and resources.  Her site sported “live” music for your perusing enjoyment!

When I’m asked about who’ve I’ve met that’s famous, I always mention “the day that Dr. Jean called me.”  Ha!  She did!  True story.  I’m not kidding!  She was enthusiastic, approachable, and encouraging.  She’s also VERY talented!

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I always liked that I had to “knock on the door” to enter Vanessa Levin’s site!  And guess what?  She was always home, with great things to share!  Ha!  My favorite spot on her site was the classroom photos section.  A picture says a thousand words…and I’m such a visual learner, so I learned a lot!

Sandy Ellaser’s site was a hidden gem. What I mean is that it really was a sewing site (she is a seamstress), but if you dug deep enough you also found a “teachers resources” page.  I loved her math mats, zero the hero ideas, single page easy reader stories, flip books, pointer ideas, oh….the list goes on!

Finally, there’s Carl’s Corner.  Cherry’s site was pretty much her entire brain.  All of her expertise and knowledge on display for other teachers to peruse and learn from!  My favorites are her intervention ideas and resources.  Such a goldmine!


I’m positive I’ve missed some great ones that were a large part of my early teaching life.  I know the feeling of “oh, I was left off the list” (but trust me, your site meant a lot to me and I’m sorry my old age has caught up with me, causing me to be forgetful and not inclusive).

I’m not really sure why I wrote this post, other than I’ve been thinking about the late 1990s and early 2000s.  I was also thinking that the new(er) teachers who are bloggers probably don’t know about the trailblazers and trendsetters.  I’m not sure if a “history” has been written about them, but here’s my attempt to capture that time in history (on a blog of all places!).  Ha!  I hope you’ve enjoyed either discovering some greats and/or traveling down memory lane.  I know I have!

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  • Melanie
    August 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    I visited many of the sites you mentioned, as well as your website!

  • Angela Watson
    August 3, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Jessica, you absolutely MADE MY DAY with this post. What a terrific blast from the past! As I read each blog’s name, I was grinning from ear to ear–Oh, Kelly’s Kindergarten! Hubbard’s Cupboard! Virtual Vine! YESSSSSS! I remember each and every one of these sites so well.

    Thank you for taking the time to round them up, get screenshots (no idea how you managed that!), and acknowledge the hard work that went into these sites back when we all had to do our own coding.

    Thank you also for including me. I have never thought of myself as a pioneer or trailblazer for the teaching blogging/TeachersPayTeachers world, but I guess that’s really what we were doing, weren’t we? WOW. Awesome.

    • admin
      August 6, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Yay! Since writing this, I’ve now made the connection between ProTeacher and Teachers.net as being “Pioneers of Social Media” – – and all the listserves and YahooGroups. And, YES…I’m so glad that technology has made it easier for teachers to collaborate and share. No more coding! Oh…and the Way Back Machine is an interesting tool to use to see what websites looked like “way back when” (kind of a scary thing for me to see my site transition through the years). Good thing I can’t remember my original site URL before getting a domain name! Ha! Have a blessed day, Angela!

  • Jennifer Shettel
    August 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    iI “third” all the comments above! What a great trip down memory lane.

  • Jennifer Shettel
    August 5, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Facebook won’t let me post a link to this blog. :0(

  • Jessica Meacham (@jessicameacham)
    August 6, 2014 at 2:11 am

    Yeah…there’s definitely something wrong with linking to Facebook. I can’t either! I need to investigate. Sigh…

  • Jinny Spring
    August 9, 2014 at 12:29 am

    What an awesome post! I have loved your website since I first found it about 5 years ago! I also loved many of these other resources mentioned in your post! Good to know that someone else out there is still thinking of them too!

  • Heather
    August 9, 2014 at 5:40 am

    I remember my first few years of teaching gleaning any treasured piece of knowledge I could from those sites as well as one other…Mrs. Meacham’s! 🙂 I think I devoured your site over 100 times, each time gaining something new. These first sites really were amazing. Thanks for documenting them for us.

  • Michelle
    September 18, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Wow, Jessica! Thank you for this post. This truly was a walk down memory lane for me as I remember each of the listed sites. Most were free and sharing abounded as we gleaned from each other. ‘Pioneers’…never thought of it that way. And, yes, if you take a look, several of these websites are still actively online. =)

  • Genevieve
    October 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Carl’s corner is no longer available. 🙁

    • admin
      October 12, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      Oh no! I was just there a few weeks ago. Hmm…. I wonder if she’s planning to move it!

  • Cindy
    January 14, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Hey, Jessica, thanks for the shout out to The Virtual Vine and the trip down Memory Lane! 🙂 I made quite a few visits to your site as well. I wanted my room to be as organized as yours (never was 😉 ) and I loved your Writing Station stuff so much I used something similar in my classroom. I retired in May and I’m now deciding what to do with The Virtual Vine. It hasn’t been updated in a couple of years, so I either need to overhaul it, take it down, or move to blogging. What to do, what to do??? 😀

    Anyway, thanks again. It’s always nice to be remembered. It was nice of you to do this. All those sites you mentioned helped to make teaching so much more enjoyable, memorable and successful for both myself and my students. They were priceless!!!

    • admin
      January 17, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      Hi Cindy!! Congrats on your retirement! I bet life has been different!! Yes….what to do about a website. I’d say keep it! Take care and enjoy YOUR TIME!!! =)

  • Lita Lita
    March 21, 2015 at 5:44 am

    I loved this post!!! I remember when I started 10 years ago and I spent hours on proteacher and and your blogs/websites. I don’t know if my proteacher account is still working… ;P
    I remember watching your classroom tours again and again 😉 All of you inspired me to be a better teacher and an organize myself to do it all. I have a tiny blog myself and follow other’s as well. But let me tell you that none of us would have ever start if it wasn’t for you.
    I remember they were all in my favorites and checked each weekend to see new content. I learned a lot and you made me love my work.
    I refound you through Angela’s website.

    Glad to found you again and now I am of to rediscover your site.

    Sending hugs from Spain

    Lita Lita

    • admin
      April 3, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Hi Lita, Lita! =) Thank you for your comments and support!!! I’ve bookmarked your blog on my Pinterest Blogs-N-Sites board!

  • Barbara
    July 3, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    I remember ALL of those sites! They were amazing and so inspiring! I would add your site to the list! All of these were such gems! They really helped me when I was a beginning teacher.

    • Jessica Meacham
      July 4, 2016 at 8:24 am

      Hi, Barbara! Thanks for the message, as well as sharing your ideas and resources on your site! Best wishes to you!