Monday, October 31, 2005

I wont do it and you can't make me!

I was too busy last week and failed to make some of the posts I had planned... maybe this week... One of the things I did do was to keep plugging away at the PGDE(S) students to try to get them to start blogs. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that blogs are a brilliant way for student teachers to reflect on their learning and their practice. However, so far I have mostly been met with polite indifference - you know, the kind of "That's nice dear", response you get from your auntie when she clearly doesn't understand what you are talking about.

originally uploaded by angelocesare.
One Geography student shared a bit of her paper based learning log with me, it was brilliant and I think it wouldbe great if she shared some of her reflection in a blog since this would open up the possibility of starting conversations with fellow students on the things she is currently recording in private. I'm still working on trying to convince her, but at the moment, she's not keen to make the jump from paper to blog.

Our students are about to go out on their first major teaching placement, so how do I move this forward without resorting to the big stick of making it assessable? ("Is this in the exam sir?") I'm assuming that some of you reading this are better at talking people into blogging than me. For example Ollie Bray got his student, Richard Ledingham, blogging about his experiences in school. (Are you reading this Ollie?) So my question is, how do I convince some students to start blogging?

How do I respond to these common reasons for not starting a blog?
  1. It's all about ego and self-publicity.
  2. I don't want to share personal stuff about myself online.
  3. It would take too much time.
Finally, once again, the question I asked already - what do I say to convince students to start blogging?

Over to you. What do I say to my students?

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Stuart Meldrum said...

I have been blogging for a few years, long before I was in teacher training, before I had even left school.

Yet it has only been in the last few weeks that I have started blogging in terms of my Professional Development and that was spurred on by the insistance by our tutors that on the last school placement we record our reflections on the university's shared file system.

The tutors didn't mention anything about blogging - publicly or privately - they just wanted a way of seeing how we were getting on without having to phone us up. The system meant that all the entries were private which I felt was a great shame but it did at least get me blogging and I've since become an avid reader of Ollie's blog, as well as Don Ledingham's (Don was my heidie in 6th year and I knew of Ollie from when he was still at Know Academy) both of which I find really useful for my own development.

I've waffled on for long enough now but I would say that if I was your student I would find it beneficial if you insisted that any PDF requirements you impose be carried out online and for all the students to view. And even more so if you encouraged them to carry on after the end of the placement.

Teacher T said...

Worry no more David - I have taken the plunge and started my blog - be careful what you wish for..

Thoughts from a new blogging recruit

David said...

Hello Stuart

Thanks for your contributions... and thanks (indirectly) for the link to your site/blog. Yet another interesting blog that I know I wont read as often as I should! :-) I especially enjoyed the slightly expanded response to my post that you give. I hope you don't mind if I point some of my students to your entry as part of my efforts to convince students that doing a blog is a worthwhile activity.

As a cutting edge educator (ahem!) I should obviously know what a PDF is. I'm guessing Professional Development File (or Folio?). Is that close? We already "insist" that our students use the Faculty's Computer Mediated Conference system so I would rather not "insist" they use a blog as well. I hope that I can convince them of its value without resorting to force. :-) I think that blogs like yours and Ollie's will help with that convincing process.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

Im a student and I think a blog is a great idea to share ideas just finding the time is difficult. But I made a start and it helped me personally to organise my thoughts about micro teaching at jordanhill - see my blog. LawrenceTeacher. Ive also convinced some of my fellow students to add to my comments their thoughts on the micro teaching at Jordanhill. Our next placements are coming up so it may not be a high priority..but wouldn't that make a great did MY placement go ..ill have a go at gathering my thoughts on that in the midst of the storm which look out Im on my way.

Stuart said...

PDF - Professional Development Folio, yes. And feel free to point to my comment/blog.

David said...

Hello Teacher T

Welcome to the world of blogs. I hope that loads of people read and respond to your first post because it is a stoater! There is even Star Trek reference in the title of your blog - you clearly know how to attract my attention. :-)

Look forward to reading more...

Amoranthus said...

Hi David,

I think I linked to your blog mostly because you're a Scot in elearning. -- I am kidding.

I'd suggest two steps as an answer, and the first one is probably not worth trying with most people.
First, ask the person if the course was relevant to them. If they answer Yes, then ask them if they can put it into words.

Second, tell them that blogs are not about publicity so much as sort of thinking things through. It's like talking things over with friends or classmates; and you get the added advantage of how writing things down helps you organize your thoughts.

You might even tell them how important it is to you to know what they percieve and think.

Neither websites or blogs are mass marketing devices. They are one on one shared experience. -- A little like whispering in class.

AEmeritus Relevant Training

Ollie Bray said...

To blog or not to blog that is the question…..

Starting my blog has been the best thing that I have ever done to help me with my professional development. By sitting down for 20 minutes at the end of each day and reflecting on the world of education and my place within it has been extremely fulfilling and a truly reflective process.

I believe that it also helping me to become more transparent as an educator and a head of department.

I have recently enrolled on my Chartered Teacher programme and one of my first tasks is to map my professional experience. I have provided hyperlinks to parts of my web log for many of the standards of professional registration. Imagine if I had been keeping a blog since the start of my career. I would have one virtual professional development portfolio that I could submit for a number of APL claims.

This is just one of the reasons why I would encourage students to keep blogs. Not only is it reflective but it will also be useful to compliment your portfolio work to help justify your standard of registration.

Richard Ledingham’s blog has been very useful for me to see how he is enjoying his time at school. It provided an additional support mechanism for me and his university tutor to see how he is getting on. I hope that he may continue to use his blog after he has finished at Dunbar Grammar School so that I am able to track his progress throughout his professional career.

I have also convinced Ed Offer (NQT History) to start a blog. RSS Feed on the way soon.

David said...

Hello Anonymous (or Lawrence as you later reveal yourself to be). I'm glad that you found creating your own blog a helpful way to organise your thoughts. Yes it will take time, but you are going to have to reflect on your practice anyway - you might as well use a tool that will help you do this in an effective and enjoyable way... You did enjoy creating your blog, didn't you?

David said...

Hello Paul. Thanks for your suggestions. Blogs are a "shared experience". I think I can work with that. :-)

Thanks for the link to the blog from your blog. I think when I went there yesterday and hovered over the link, it said something like, "proof that there is intelligent life in Scotland". Was I seeing things or did it really say something like that?

David said...

Hello Ollie. Thank you for some great comments. You are clearly skilled at talking people into blogging and hopefully some of your comments here, and your blog will help convince some of my more reluctant students.

John Johnston said...

Hi David,
Finally, once again, the question I asked already - what do I say to convince students to start blogging?
I'd tell them that is a great tool to use with children for teaching and learning, and to be able to use blogs with confidence it is a good idea to practice. The best practice is having your own blog.
Blogs have something for everyone, talkers can talk, writers write and coders can play with the templates.

Cheryl said...

I started my blogthis summer during my instructional technology internship. My cooperating IT strongly encouraged it. My university required me to keep a daily log of what I did so I just typed it into blogger and then did a copy and paste to Word to submit to the teacher.

Not only did I keep a dry record of my activities (which was what the example we were given was) but I also used it to express my feelings about things and to think out projects-how to, what I wanted to do and also to troubleshoot problems. It was a great way to relieve stress too when I had to plan my first training. I was also able to post links to blogs/vlogs that we did with the students in summer school and pictures of some of my activities.

Although I don't write regularly anymore, I still use the blog to plan new projects and reflect about my feelings about possibly changing my job, since I loved my internship, and leaving an environment that I feel very comfortable in.

Tell your students it's a great way to think out ideas and problems and their friends can follow it to see what they are doing while they are out and about.

David said...

Hello John

I think letting them see blogs like the ones Sandaig produces could be very helpful. I especially liked the National Poetry Day stuff. The number of comments it produced was brilliant. The children in your school must have been well chuffed.

David said...

Hello Cheryl

I've talked to the students about how bloging can help you think out loud, but I liked the, "great way to relieve stress" bit. Thanks for your comments.

LesleyJ said...

Hi David.

I decided to go down the blogging route cause I thought that it would be a fun activity for me to do. (be a reflective practitioner!!! If that is spelt wrong please pull me up).

Although I reckon that this might become quite addictive, so I need to watch out.

I have created a blogg
I realised that this might not be advisible to public my whole name, but I could not see a way of changing my blogg. Is this too late???

LesleyJ said...

OK that is not the address I just posted.
its or whatever the address of the blogs are

I will promise to keep my blogs to the point and short

LesleyJ said...

OK I have spent too long setting up this Blog. I decided to jump on the bloggy band waggon and set one up..."help! I'm a student teacher.

check it out. It's a really good idea. I was not entirely sure what you meant David, when you tried to entice us...know I know...
I am hooked!!!!

LesleyJ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LesleyJ said...

Ok sorry If I posted lots of comments, they kept on disappearing.

Have not quite got into the way of blogging yet.

Don said...

Having only started blogging recently I'm converted. Despite what some of my colleagues think about it there seems to be growing support for it within my English Department. We have, for a number of years now, encouraged the pupils to write daily journals at the beginning of lessons and theoretically it should not be difficult to transfer this to blogs. The value of having a larger audience than just the teacher cannot be underestimated.

However there are a number of technical and logistical problems in our school. We use wireless laptops which are stored on moveable trolleys - incredibly heavy and awkward to move around the school. Then you have the setting up time in class and clearing up at the end. Add to that a dgree of unreliability in connecting to our server! So much time is spent on this that the lesson is soon over. We need much more equipment and a forward thinking ICT policy.

This all comes at an interesting time when schools in our authority are thinking of withdrawing email accounts from pupils because of misuse.

The introduction of new ideas - even with support is never easy. If we value it we just have to keep trying. I, for one, am convinced of its worth.

Mark Milke said...

I would suggest that you use peer pressure to get students to blog more. Assess students on how well they give critical comment and advice on another student's blogsite. Do not assess students on the quality of their blogsite, which is offputting to insecure students. Give students advice on how to assess blogs. They'll learn how to blog better by trying to help others do so.