Are you blogging in the classroom already?
Blogs are incredibly easy to set up, and there are plenty around to give you inspiration. You could begin here. The question is, why bother?
There seems to be plenty of examples about pupils who would not write, or were reluctant writers, who were inspired by blogs to write more and to write well. Not to mention teachers who were inspired by reading/writing blogs. One paper does attempt to answer the question of impact on pupil progress, however it does not seem to offer any statistically significant improvement, although it does offer evidence for motivation and engagement. Other research points to the impact blogging can have when it is channelled towards a learning objective such as second language learning, or critical thinking skills. See link for Hourigan, below. More ‘hard evidence’ is something we are waiting for, in the meantime all we can do is share our experiences.
Some evidence is anecdotal, a quick trawl through twitter gives you enthusiastic and inspired teachers who really believe that blogging is giving their pupils the motivation needed to write.
And there seems to be the point, motivation? A good, well managed blog does more than that:
– it supports audience awareness, great for fine tuning language skills
– develops digital literacy skills as pupils become responsible for their own blogs
– an awareness of cultural differences, geography, citizenship. Check out the brilliant Quad Blogging for details of how schools are linked together to ensure children are sharing experiences across the globe.
– develops communication skills and team building
– can address an aspect of school life, like parental engagement or school dinners.
What about for teachers? This excellent blog here details one school’s journey and describes how blogs were introduced to staff. There is no doubt that teachers benefit from the chance to share and reflect on their practice. Could blogging be the way to do this? This blog from a secondary school teacher encourages plenty of reflection and is a very worthwhile read!
Another excellent mixture of ideas and reflection comes here, KrisitanStill, would encouraging staff to keep a blog be a step in continuous professional development?
Blogs can also be used incredibly effectively for CPD, check out this a site set up to allow teachers to moderate piece of writing in line with National Curriculum levels. Very useful!
It’s well worth checking out the ‘impact’ section of the QuadBlogging site here. Lots of talk about community, collaboration and team-building, which is supported by reading some of the research. It seems pupils are enthused by having a sense of audience, control over content and the use of a medium that they are comfortable with.
Another great site is here Set up by a teacher to share resources and give tips!
If you have any success stories, please add them here!
So where can you start? My advice, is to begin with a teacher who is already interested. Start small and let other teachers see how it can be managed and what can be achieved. A free site, such as posterous or blogger can be used and initially teachers can post and students leave comments. Ensure any comments come to you to be moderated, and start with some very simple posts.
Do remember to think about your e safety policy at the same time as introducing class blogs. Will pupils be taught how to respond to comments? Will you encourage parental contributions? Perhaps a coffee morning for parents to discuss any fears or share any ideas?
Using a school-wide blog, such as The 100 Word Challenge can provide a focal point, and raise the profile of a subject.
The Impact of Blogging and Scaffolding on Primary School Pupils’ Narrative Writing: A Case Study
Ruth Mei Fen Wong, National Institute of Education, Singapore Khe Foon Hew, National Institute of Education, Singapore