We have two classes who have been blogging consistently since October, with the rest of the school following suit from mid-February. My class have blogged for 6 months and a recent pupil progress meeting left me reflecting on how much impact the blogs have had.
From a purely anecdotal point of view, it seems that my class are more enthusiastic about writing. In many ways, blogging is a bit of a freebie for teachers – if you can encourage your children to submit posts about anything to your class blog, then they are practising, improving and thinking about their writing. Recent feedback from our children that was given to the Literacy team intimated that they wanted a freer reign over their writing – ‘we want to write about what interests us’ – this is what a blog allows.
So what do the children write about? Well, anything. That’s the way I like it. Yes, I have had to read countless stories about a child’s pet, and I’ve published many acrostic poems that don’t really say much, but the children see a purpose in their writing, they have a global audience and they see that their writing, no matter what it is, is valued by somebody, somewhere. We have had a visitor comment on a poem about the London Underground because it resonated with his own experience; one child’s post about his pet created a flurry of interest; authors Sally Grindley and Gill Lewis have left comments; teachers have shown writing to their class as examples…and our children know this. It’s not just their teacher they’re pleasing – it is anyone and everyone.
Is progress in writing visible?
One of the key reasons we wanted our children to blog was to increase an interest in writing, which in turn would begin to improve children’s attainment. Perhaps it is too early to assess the impact of blogging here, but there has definitely been an impact on the children who blog most frequently.
Here are some stats, taken from levels handed in at the end of the Spring term.
|Year’s progress||Number of children||Number of posts||Average posts per child|
|3 or more sub-levels||1||16||16|
|ALMOST 2 sub-levels||11||187||17|
The children who have blogged the most have also progressed the most in their writing. How about that? Clearly, the quality of each post may vary, and this isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule. There are children who have made 2 sub-levels who have barely blogged at all, bringing the average post figures down. Equally, there is one child in particular who has only made one sub-level but regularly blogs.
That said, I can see the progress in the classroom – children who have blogged more, by and large, are progressing quicker in their writing. The children suggested being allowed to write more about their own interests – maybe this is evidence that they should be listened to more.
Which other factors have helped?
Quadblogging has had a huge impact on our children. We were fortunate to have a brilliant quad of classes last time around. The visiting children left thoughtful and thought-provoking comments which engaged the class and encouraged them to improve and achieve more. Unsurprisingly, all of this leads to the children writing more of whatever it is they want to write about – it’s all good practice.
100 Word Challenge
I’m sure you are all aware of the 100 Word Challenge. Set up and organised by Julia Skinner (@TheHeadsOffice), it sets the children the challenge of writing a short piece based on a prompt. The child’s effort is published to the blog and her team set about commenting.
We have some serial 100 Word Challengers whose writing is improving leaps and bounds. They enjoy the feedback, and one boy was recently selected as a showcase piece which inspired him to write this.
The 100wc is free to take part in, challenges children of all abilities and, perhaps most importantly, guarantees feedback – the driving force behind your children using their blog.
I have a group of boys who just don’t blog. They don’t want to, they’re not impressed by it and it seems they’re not for turning. They are all in similar friendship groups – maybe it’s just ‘not cool’ to blog. Maybe I need to set up a specific blog aimed at them – sports, Minecraft, gaming…a boy’s blog was mooted but time has taken over for now. I introduced a competitive element to blogging but the girls are just wiping the floor with the boys!
I am convinced more than ever that blogging is improving the writing in my classroom. The children are more enthusiastic, they love receiving comments and are still checking the blog-map every week for new visitors.
How can you make the blog do the work?
– have it on display – every morning, the blog is on the whiteboard so the children can see new posts, new visitors and new comments
– keep on top of it – update the blog regularly
– don’t just rely on the children – use the blog to showcase your children’s work and what they’ve been doing during the day. Show you enjoy using the blog too
– join in with Quadblogging and the 100wc (or the 5 sentence challenge for younger bloggers)
– KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT – children do forget. Ask them to submit work they are proud of, or to write about an exciting experience you know they’ve had. Gentle reminders never hurt.
Blogging works. Like anything that is worth it, a bit of work is required, but don’t let that put you off.
*thanks to Kris Olin for the image