I was a quiet lad at school. I worked hard, got on with it and waited for the day to be over. I knew I was good at some things, and knew I wasn’t at others. I knew this because my teachers told me so. Peer marking and editing time were glints in the eyes of future educators – my work was for my book, and my book was for my teacher. I wish I’d have had a blog. (I also wish I’d have had a kite, but that’s a story for another time).
It has been just over two years since I started using a class blog with my children. Excited oohs and aahs greeted each and every flag that popped up, but the enthusiasm to blog wasn’t quite there straight away. The children needed an audience.
Thankfully, people like David Mitchell and Julia Skinner devote much of their time to such a need, and, deep inside the Twitter universe, there are several other like-minded folk who are more than willing to ensure children are enthusiastic about blogging. But why?
Blogging at its simplest is a free ride for teachers, essentially encouraging your class to write for free – it’s not your homework, it’s your choice. However, the best blogging classes have children who don’t care if it’s their homework or not. Instead, it’s just theirs. It’s their story, their poetry, their painting, their audio recording, their dramatic video. It’s their learning on show for the world to see – an open door into a room full of learning.
For many of the children I have taught, it is their voice.
There are children I work with who perhaps do not get the recognition they deserve in school, or maybe even at home. Perhaps they are a little shy in reading their writing in front of others, or don’t want the teacher to do it because they are embarrassed. They don’t want to be the centre of attention. The blog negates all of this. It gives children a chance to shine, even if they want to do it from the shadows. They share their writing, offer comments to others and show that self-awareness in learning that might be missing in other children. They become reflective.
There’s lots to be said for blogging with a class. We have made links with other teachers and classes to collaborate, held Skype sessions with children in different countries to find out how they live, contacted authors, had a real audience online, used it for aspects of e-safety and most importantly for some, have seen the impact it has in terms of academic attainment. As a teacher, I’d like to think I have used my blogs positively, either sharing and promoting children’s content with others or encouraging an atmosphere of discussion in the classroom.
A blog offers so much opportunity for a range of groups of children; I am happy if I can give a voice to the quiet ones.
Image courtesy of Gideon Burton