It is time (do you like that link to my image) to share some of the blogging examples from my classroom and how I have been using this tool to enhance my lessons. This is the first year I have used them consistently and I know I can improve my delivery. In fact this is why I am embarking on this blog journey, I thought “hey Cate, have a little reflect on what you do”, hopefully I can then improve it!
I wanted this experience to be as meaningful as possible. I wanted it to be a true development of the project, enabling pupils to look beyond the classroom activities. To facilitate this I have tried to think carefully about where I will use blogging in my units of work. Eventually I think each unit will lend itself to a blog post, but I am not there yet!
I started with the following prompts:
I really wanted the pupils to engage with the bigger questions surrounding the topics we are studying. The blogs are not directly related to the mark scheme and as such are not formally marked. However, they enable the pupils to develop their voice and have their own opinions. Opinions that are sometimes at odds with the school philosophy, I found this in the Material Challenge post, where some pupils (that I had not anticipated) were activity critical of working for and supporting charities.
In their blogs they felt they had ownership and a platform to have their own opinions. I am not naive enough to believe that this can not lead to issues, however I believe that we should always give pupils the freedom to express themselves, this can be removed if it is abused. But if we don’t trust them how will they learn to trust themselves!
Here are some examples of posts that I enjoyed. As this is the first time I have used this medium I decided to complete each project myself and have the pupils comment on my posts, as I commented on theirs.
This post by Leah took the reader on a journey through her coding experience. Such an enjoyable read!
Lara was giddy when she found a comment from a “coder”. Someone had read and commented on her post from “the outside world” and she was made up!
This post really was a window into Sam’s believes and as I had only just started teaching him, I felt I knew him better after reading this piece.
In this post Liza raised many interesting points – like the global idea of beauty.
In my classroom the blog post can occur at different points in the units we are studying. I try to tie it to elements that I feel could be further explored (beyond what is in the unit). It is a personal exploration and not assessed, so I try not to give a word count. However, the pupils often crave this guidance so in the end I normally have to give them some ideas of length – I want to move away from this! I give pupils a whole lesson to develop their post (in fact, as I am doing the same posts I realise 1 hour might not be enough and often they need to finish it at home). We have 20 mins on commenting once the posts have been completed.
Ahh commenting. This is an area that I feel needs improving. After reading this excellent post (I love the introduction as it takes you on a beautiful journey) by Phil I have really thought about the time I give to commenting. It is not enough! If I give pupils the time to write these posts, then I am doing them a dis-service by not giving them time read and commented on the posts. I am saying it is not as important. This must change as it is a crucial part of the process.
This is my next challenge to improve how I organise commenting and the time I give for them to do this.
So next next year my targets are simple:
- Ensure I have a blog post exercise in every unit where I think it is applicable.
- Ensure I give more time to commenting and guidance to commenting.
Easy to write – now I need to get it done!