Thursday, September 22, 2011

SLF11 - Blogging In The Primary School

Brian McLaren - Clackmannan Primary School

Why is blogging useful?

Awareness of audience - lifting their eyes beyond their own classroom. (The children especially loved seeing the dots appear on the map showing where in the world visitors were coming from.) Choice and personalisation - pupil blogs reflect their own interests. Describes a learning journey - it is not just about recording an end point.

Started with class blogs. Let's parents and others see what is happening in their children's classroom. With younger classes, they used a buddy system where older children typed up what the younger ones wanted to say. The technology use is embedded in the work of the class - the posts are about real work and not stuff invented to tick an ICT task.

Each teacher has a reflective blog where they evaluate and reflect on their own blog. They do this at least once a fortnight. Shared with SMT and a partner of their choice. Leads to a rich, regular evaluation process. Teachers are fully engaged and asked for feedback on their blog posts. As part of their reflection, teachers are linking to pupil blogs as part of the evidence.

Third use of blogs was to move away from just diary entries to pupils using blogs to reflect on their own learning. They personalise the look of their blog and include links to relevant pages for the learning they are describing. They tag their own posts and choose appropriate categories. They do not just describe what they have done but they set target posts and also evaluate their work linking to evidence and peer assessment as appropriate. As well as the posts in the main area, there are pages for each of the four capacities where they link to appropriate posts. A pupil described his blog and presented what he had done very effectively. He said it made him more organised and that it was "fun". {Assessment is fun! - DM}

A pupil asked asked how teachers knew what to teach. The teacher directed him to the Experiences and outcomes on Glow. The pupil then said to the teacher that he had been given the wrong target and that he should be at level 2. {Brilliant!} S pupils now link their personal targets themselves and link them to the My Experiences and Outcomes sections. the outcomes a general but the pupils and teachers set more specific tasks.

The blogs do not just use text. They use a variety of tools including: Voki, Glogster Edu, Anymaking, Graffitimaker, Lego Minimizer, Prezi, Zooburst and they are already looking for more!

How did they start this process?

Started with a whole staff (teachers, admin, support...), whole day training event. The SMT made a commitment to allow teachers the time to do this - time spent on planning and assessment is now allocated to the blogging activities. The school make extensive use of Glow help which they find very useful. Also make extensive use of Big Buddies - the pupils offer the support, it doesn't just come from a teacher. The depute head also makes extensive use of his Personal Learning Network through Twitter.

They now have 11 class blogs, 11 teacher evaluation blogs, approximately 200 pupil blogs, a head teacher blog, the depute's blog and Eco blog (used as part of the school's evidence to get a green flag) and an RRSA blog. They have a policy governing the safe and sensible use of blogs but this document also justifies and explains why they are using blogs and why they are valuable. They have a clear progression of tasks and skills through the school.

The blogs are about communication. About reading and commenting on other people's blogs. Reading as well as writing.

It is having an impact. There are logistical difficulties about looking after 200 blogs but the impact and value is clear.

The depute's blog is:

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