Blogs are brilliant if you want to raise standards in English, but they can also break the back of an awful lot of the new Computing curriculum. We are following the advice of Computing at School (CAS) and have split our Computing curriculum into the three distinct areas of Computer Science, Digital Literacy and Information Technology.
This element of the curriculum is perhaps the most obvious in lending itself to blogging. From as early as year 1, we should be teaching the children about keeping personal information private. Use your blog to highlight how sharing personal information could be problematic; refer to the good practice of other children who only use first names; discuss how writing a name with a picture could cause issues. All of these would cover objectives such understand where to go for help when concerned about content, or identify a range of ways to report concerns.
What if there is inappropriate contact? What if a blogger leaves a comment asking for your email address? Should the children reply? If not, what do they do? These discussions are important in all age groups, particularly if your children use email addresses.
We also need to be positive about the use of the internet. Whenever Digital Literacy is mentioned, people invariably think ‘e-Safety’. Of course, that is key, but we don’t want our children to be scared of using the internet. Blogs allow the children to communicate with other teachers, children and visitors in a positive way, and could lead to collaboration on other projects too. Tools such as Padlet allow for instant collaboration which can be moderated as you go. Coveritlive can allow your children to talk to authors and experts – these can, of course, be embedded into blogs.
The new curriculum uses the word ‘create’ sparingly, though it is there. Almost all digital content that is created by children can be embedded into a blog post, either directly from sites such as Audioboom or Scratch, or by hosting through Google Drive. If using a class blog, then children immediately have a purpose and audience, so you can tick off curriculum objectives such as use technology to create digital content, use a variety of software to accomplish given goals or design and create digital content. Of course, this can all be done without the use of a class blog, but if you can show it off to the world as well, it might just encourage children who ask ‘what’s the point?’ You might be able to create adverts for people other than the class teacher, or write a persuasive letter to someone other than the head – what’s more, your blog is an easy place for people to write replies.
A trickier one, this, and one I’d love to hear from others on. We can use blogs to discuss how search results are ordered and ranked by looking at popular blogs such as Raja’s Howler Monkey, or even by searching your own school blogs. When I search for ‘school name blog post’, why does this particular blog come at the top of the list?
There is also the potential to use HTML with children who are ready to use a language in which to code – I understand HTML is not programming, rather mark-up, but still, children will be able to understand that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions, or design programs that accomplish specific goals. We can use the blog to write and edit HTML codes that will, in turn, affect the display and structure of a blog-post by including links, embeds and altering sizes of images and objects.
As a disclaimer, I am a novice in the field of Computer Science, so if there are glaring mistakes/misconceptions, do let me down gently!
I feel that blogs allow coverage of a good proportion of the curriculum, particularly in the Digital Literacy and Information Technology strands. If anyone has any further suggestions, please let me know 🙂
Image with permission from Denise Krebs