I had been interested in blogging for a while, mainly as a means of documenting some of the ICT related things we have been doing at school, which don’t get celebrated or even noted in the fast pace of life that is most primary schools these days.
It quickly became apparent, that there was a huge community of bloggers out there, adults and students alike, and that many of the children posting were of primary school age. To investigate further I visited the bMoble conference last June, hosted by a group of Bradford educationalists, where one of the breakouts was ‘Sprogs with Blogs’ which had an interesting write up in the conference leaflet http://prezi.com/sk5bgrblu6bm/bmoble-2011-sprogs-with-blogs/.
David Mitchell (@DeputyMitchell) was an inspiration, taking the conference through the journey his Year 5 and 6 children had travelled to get to where they currently were – which was 63% level 5 writing from 9% in 12 months. I also think I heard him say that no child achieved less that level 4. This was heady stuff, especially when he brought in some of his class who told their own stories very eloquently. As we all now know, but what was news to me then, was that it is the comments made on a blog that make the difference. And not just the teacher’s comments, nor even the parents, but other children and other people in other places. Well, I suppose it shouldn’t have been news – after all, all adult bloggers know what it is to receive (positive!) comments.
I drove back to Surrey deep in thought as to how I could implement this in my school. I am lucky in that in my workplace there are two or three other teachers who are keen to further the use of ICT in all lessons and it was to these colleagues that I turned, and, as we began to plan a way to incorporate blogging into class, what should pop up but the http://feb29th.net blog.
This provided the perfect opportunity to get both the children and the adults involved. We decided to jump straight in with a big splash and set up enough laptops and computers on Feb 29th so that every child in keystage 2 had the opportunity to post their own blog on the site, whilst the children in keystage 1 could take part in a class blog. A trial run at midnight proved a god send when I realised that we had to tag our posts in order to find them easily later, and so every post from our school went by the tag 2032, as we had suggested to the children that they write about what they thought they would be doing in 20 year s time on 29th February 2032 http://feb29th.net/?s=2032.
And, just as Mr Mitchell and his year 6s had said, it was the comments that had the most impact. We encouraged the children to comment on other people’s blogs once they had completed their own, and the delight with which they encountered not only their writing online, but also any remarks was wonderful to behold. As those of you who took part will know, there were so many participants that the posts came through in batches over the next few days, but our children still looked for their post, and bit by bit other people commented on them, sometimes from overseas – wow!
Since then, our Year 4s have been blogging about their visit to Hampton Court and the Year 3 children have been commenting. The children are beginning to understand how to comment positively and the Year 3s are looking forward to posting their own blogs next term.
The really exciting news is that this Easter holiday we have been running a Tanzanian blog http://wraycommon.primaryblogger.co.uk while two of our teachers have been visiting our partner school in Bunda, a town near Lake Victoria. Mr S and Miss C have been posting all their stories and adventures, and lots of our children, staff and parents have been commenting – it feels like a real community and is wonderful to see learning extending outside of school. The icing on the cake has been that we have been able to set up a blog for the Tanzanian school http://ligamba.primaryblogger.co.uk which they have started to use, posting news up once a week – what a wonderful way to forge relationships across the globe.
So to next term and beyond. I am interested in getting involved in Julia Skinner’s (@TheHeadsOffice) 100 Word Challenge http://www.theheadsoffice.co.uk/category/100-word-challenge/, having had a go already myself on the 100WCGU http://jfb57.wordpress.com/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups/ . (I really recommend this if you are a closet creative writer – if you are interested you can see my efforts in earlier posts on this blog.) I think the 100WC might be just what we need to get our children interested in writing for its own sake, and now they are more familiar with blogs I want to see if we can succeed in enthusing young writers whilst also raising their writing levels.
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