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Blogs and wikis: How do you support students' to write and respond?

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Started by Enabling e-Learning 14 Jun 2011 9:50am () Replies (10)

This week, I have been considering the importance of supporting students' literacy when they are blogging and writing in wikis, how they use language, symbols and texts. I've also read Jacqui Sharp's post in which she blogs about supporting students with collaborating.

After all, if they are using 'web 2.0' technology, they need to maximise the opportunities such tech offers, shouldn't they

We know that students need to know:

  • the purpose and audience - and the approprate surface/deep features to use

but do we also help them understand:

  • the conventions appropriate to the genre, the tool
  • what the learning focus is, so they can respond with more than just praise for another's work (although that is always appreciatedWink)
  • how to peer review another's work
  • how to collaborate supportively and constructively

Is this something that you focus on deliberately? How do you manage it?


  • Simon Evans (View all users posts) 15 Jun 2011 11:14am ()

    Claire Amos shared the process her and her students went through when using Blogger to support formative assessment of writing in the Blogger Snapshot on Software for Learning. 

    One of the clear messages that she states is "for the students who chose Blogger there were specific improvements in outcomes. Students found it easier to meet deadlines, they were more likely to act upon feedback and they began to regularly read one another’s work."

    Deliberate acts of teaching are essential, even with 'intuitive technologies', when the outcome is raising the standard and quality of work.


  • Tim Kong (View all users posts) 15 Jun 2011 12:36pm ()

    Thanks for those links Simon. Great stuff. 

    The opposition I face from people in my school - is they don't "get" the point of a wiki. 

    One of them said to me - "Why would you waste time, posting a little poem in that 'forum/discussion' thing - when you've got better things to do?"

    These people see a wiki and a blog, as an extra - instead of being the way of communicating/sharing and creating students work, teacher thinking and school ideas.

    That mental block is really difficult to overcome - because no amount of PD is going to break it.

  • Darren (View all users posts) 15 Jun 2011 12:47pm ()
  • Melanie Matthews (View all users posts) 15 Jun 2011 7:01pm ()

    Hi Tim
    I understand what you are saying and an easy and fun way to gradually get your team on board is to get your students to share the connections they are making through their bloggging with the school. At the start of our blogging journey my students would get excited about the red dots on our cluster map and where they were coming from, especially when a red dot was in the middle of the ocean! Comments from other teachers and students also got them excited. The wow factor caught on with one teacher and now we are all blogging at some level.
    That mental block you talk about is not your problem just keep talking the talk and walking the walk and plant little seeds. They will grow slowly or wither and die.

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 29 Jun 2011 10:48am ()

    That is certainly a challenging issue, TimUndecided. Often, seeing the evidence of students' motivation and improved engagement with deep learning can be a strong motivator for those who are more skeptical and 'hanging back'.  There can also be a strong feeling of personal uncertainty in many folk. Early adopters are often first out of the blocks because they are risk-takers, open to new ideas etc. Not everyone is going to be like that.

    It might also be helpful to consider that, instead of hoping teachers get the point of a wiki, might they get the point of collaboration, extended learning, shared exploraton, connecting with the wider community....hard to argue with that. So they can see that technology is the means, rather than the end (as I know you knowSmile)

    You might find some interesting ideas and aspects in this thread, in the eLearning: Professional Learning group, How to help the 'technophobes...'?.

    Best of luck.

    [Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Technology-Adoption-Lifecycle.png]

  • Melanie Matthews (View all users posts) 15 Jun 2011 7:19pm ()

    I spend about 30 minutes to 1 hour each week talking about good blog comments and reviewing blog comments on ours and other blogs that we follow.

    We have a 6 point rating for a blog comment which includes greetings, making connections to the post, adding information, complimenting, proof reading and including our blog address for connections to continue.

    As we are getting better at doing this we comment independently as part of our literacy program which we call learning conversations. This has a real focus on them making connections to a blog post.
    Now our learning time is going to be spent on writing good blog posts when sharing our learning. At this point we are looking at our own blog and critiquing the value of our posts. This will lead into other blogs.
    That deliberate focus you talk about came about as a need when they started having learning conversations.
    The virtual staffroom has a great podcast on student voice. http://virtualstaffroom.net/2011/01/vsr38-student-voice/

  • Emma Watts (View all users posts) 15 Jun 2011 7:40pm ()

    To develop my students literacy skills and their use of language, symbols and texts when they are blogging as a class we have identified and are developing our audience:

    • parents
    • whanau
    • students in other classes at our school
    • students and teachers from other schools

    We actively promote our class (that’s the development part!) by:

    • regularly making posts about our learning
    • following other blogs
    • regularly make comments on others and our own blogs
    • send letters home to parents
    • advertise in the school newsletter, class newsletter, school website etc.

    We’ve also identified our purpose for blogging – which is simply to share our learning, understanding and thinking to our audience!

    We’ve developed academic commenting when responding to our audience when they comment on our blog and when we comment on their blogs.

    We collaboratively write posts in pairs, small groups or as a class (great modeling).  Then we always proof read and edit as a class before publishing the post.

    We also collaboratively write comments in pairs, small groups or as a class (great modeling again!)

    Next Steps:

    • Students to co-create a rubric (against deeper and surface features) for creating a blog post
    • Peer review each other’s blog posts against the rubric via academic comments
    • Choose a Web 2.0 tool to share learning, embed in a blog post & justify the choice

    My biggest tip is to embed it into your everyday classroom programme - we blog about science, inquiry, phonics, numeracy, P.E. in fact anything and everything! It is perfect for reading and writing.  In fact we use it everyday! Check us out at: http://room9-in-2011.blogspot.com...in fact we'd love you to make a comment! (That's me actively promoting our class blog!)

  • Brad Williamson (View all users posts) 16 Jun 2011 10:42am ()

    Thanks Everyone, there is a lot of useful reading for me and ideas for the students I am working with. I am starting an extra-curricular media team to video, blog, interview on school happenings relating to building student resilience by celebrating and valuing students contributions, highlighting the strong connections between people and examples of the supportive nature of our students.

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 21 Jun 2011 10:16am ()

    Wonderful comments here, everyone, that really highlight the importance of deliberate teaching, at every stage of a collaborative online processSmile

    In many ways, this discussion is just really about how we help students articulate their learning, and the learning of others in ways that allow them to comment on how far they have reached the learning intentions. The comments on a blog or wiki are simply part of that process.

    I see a neat extension here (thinking about the way schools involve parents/whānau in 3-way conferences) with supporting family to understand the learning intentions, too. So, a comment from home might be about effort ('Great post, Sam!') but might also begin to support a learning goal ('I love the way you are using images in your writing, Sam. It's really helped me imagine your journey to school').

    How can we extend the learning focus beyond the classroom? After all, part of the power of web 2.0 tech is in it's reach; how can we reach out to the community and engage them in those learning conversations?

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e-Learning: Technologies

e-Learning: Technologies

Where we explore how different technologies can support learning.