Last Sunday night, I found a very exciting email in my school inbox. This does not happen often. All that was on it was a user ID and a password. Nothing else. I knew that the school blogs had arrived and have behaved like a manic obsessive ever since.
As I posted way back at the start of the year, our next step in improving ICT in school was blogging. This next step has taken a long time to take, for various reasons, but we are finally there. That’s what matters. We are starting with 3 class blogs and a blog for the headteacher, but plan on rolling blogs out to each and every class fairly soon. What we have to prove/achieve is some sense of purpose. I sincerely hope these words don’t come back to bite me, but I don’t think we will have any problem.
We were pencilled in for a training session with John Sutton (@HGJohn) from Creative Blogs on the Thursday of last week, but all three class teachers had already started blogging and are well away with it. Other teachers have already commented on how they look, and how exciting it is that people from all over the world are visiting (we have used Revolvermaps to track visits).
The most exciting thing is the potential. Already, children from each class have commented on blog posts. As the class teacher, you are also assigned to be the moderator, so you choose whether to approve or bin comments. I had a comment posted by one of my children who is both EAL and SEN, and had written a rather long comment that didn’t make any sense. I spoke to him about this the following morning, and together we improved his comment. The next day, he wrote a beautiful (and perfect) comment on another school blog. This is nothing to do with my input; instead, it is the fact that he wants to be involved. Blogging is gently encouraging him to think about what he is writing. He has an audience now. The whole class and school will read his comments – visitors from all over the world could read his blog posts! This small example is hopefully an indicator of what is to come in terms of children thinking about their writing, both in commenting and writing their own posts.
Only one week in, the enthusiasm that has been generated among the children is tangible. Every day, we are checking our blog to see if there are new visitors, and some of the children have even contacted far and distant relatives so they can register a new country on our map. A questionnaire that the children made was put onto the blog and currently has over 50 responses, lots of them from teachers around the country. We have also spent time moderating comments together, seeing whether they meet the agreed class blogging rules or not. Other teachers from around the school have visited to leave lovely comments for children they may have taught previously, and the look of pride on different children’s faces really is a joy to see. There is also a healthy enthusiasm from teachers about what they want to do with their blogs when they get them – the staff are becoming enthusiastic about ICT!
My class spent one afternoon last week entirely focussed on commenting for other children. This is something that they had never done before, and I was a little tentative to begin. However, they took to it like naturals, leaving really positive, thoughtful and genuine comments for other children in schools around the UK. The class didn’t want to stop and we have agreed that we will have a different focus blog each week to have a look at. This will help the children to develop their skills, while hopefully building them a wider audience as they leave their URL for other schools to click on and visit. We are hoping to join the Quadblogging network soon, as well as opening Twitter accounts for the blogging classes.
The teacher in one year 1 blogging class has already started to make headway on this, but the future is to give ownership of the blogs to the children. Mrs Corden has already encouraged her year 1 children to type independently for the blog, as well as recording thoughts and ideas using Audioboo. This is what we will all aim to achieve. Older children will have their own user ID and password so that they can post to the blog. We would also like them to continue to use simple websites and apps that have an option to embed – think Photopeach, Audioboo and ToonDoo. This will have to be taught and will probably create a few issues to begin with, but I’m confident that our children can do it.
It is very early days, and perhaps too early to be so confident, but I genuinely feel that our children will love blogging. It is a form of communication that can encourage them as learners, thinkers and as citizens. The children have told me that they are excited to be involved in this and want to lead it – once the whole school gets going, I can only imagine the buzz between children, staff and the wider community.
If you would like us to visit your school then just give me a shout!