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Riccarton Primary Reflective Summary 2, 2012: Using student blogs to create an anywhere, anytime learning environment

Riccarton Primary School

Milestone 6
Reflective Summary 2012


Creating an anywhere, anytime learning environment with a focus on literacy.

National Goal 1:

  • Students to become successful digital citizens

National Goal 3:

  • Teachers to integrate e-learning effectively into their practice creating an innovative environment for all students.

Vision:

  • Our E-learning vision is to have transparent classrooms where learning can take place anytime, anywhere, where there is an authentic audience for children’s learning, following a learn, create, share inquiry model. ICT will be embedded into the curriculum rather than part of the curriculum.

Rationale:

  • To provide an individual online learning and sharing space for senior students.

  • To increase student achievement in literacy by providing learning experiences that motivate our students. 

  • Individual blogs are a great way to help our students reach the National Standards. With their blogs, kids are writing for a real purpose, and an authentic audience. They are aware that their work will be looked at by real people including their peers, parents, relatives, teachers and principals.

“When a language teacher introduces blogging activities within the language classroom, the opportunities for student interaction and the horizons of that “learning space” (Williams & Jacobs, 2004, p. 232) are expanded exponentially, providing student writers with a far greater audience both within and outside the classroom” (Web: http://www.nus.edu.sg/celc/publications/RETL62/01to20blackstone.pdf 2012))

 Action:

  • To set-up and assign individual blogs for senior students
  • To up skill our learners around the use of Blogs
  • To inform parents of the use and importance of Blogs
  • To create a supportive digital environment for our students

 

 

Process:

With the aim of increasing student achievement in Writing in mind, we felt it was important to work towards the following:

- improve student motivation
- increase writing mileage
- provide further opportunities for feedback


Individual Blogs Assigned:

Each senior student was assigned an individual blog. This blog was part of their Google Account which they already use for email and documents. When creating these accounts we had to ensure that the settings for each account were carefully managed to meet the needs of our students.

Students were given Admin rights temporarily to enable students to personalise their blogs which is important to establish ownership of their blog. This will further increase the students motivation to use their blogs.


Blog Buddy:

We decided to pair each student up with a Blog Buddy. The purpose of the Blog Buddy is to ensure each student has got someone to go to if they need help with their blog. If they do not receive the assistance they need from their blog buddy they can then ask their teacher. This saves a lot of teacher time and also reinforces some skills taught for students if they are teaching others. We paired less motivated students up with motivated students.

Blog Group:

We set up “blogging groups” to provide a regular audience to read work and provide feedback.

“Teachers with experience having students create blogs and make posts often state that it is difficult to insure that members of a class regularly and universally receive comments on their posts. From our experience it seems that if students are not provided enough guidance, they will gravitate and respond to the posts made by their friends. Under these conditions, in a class of 16, a popular student might receive comments from more than half of his/her classmates, while a quieter student close to none. In answer to that challenge and in lieu of having to assign certain students to respond to others’ posts, a teacher can create “blogging groups” within the class. A blogging group might consist of any number of students, but since the purpose is to narrow the field of potential peer respondents/commentators to a specific manageable group, it is best limited to no more than six members………while some might argue that the assigning of blogging groups compromises the autonomy of student bloggers, the benefits of full participation proved worthwhile in our context.” (Web:http://www.nus.edu.sg/celc/publications/RETL62/01to20blackstone.pdf 2012)

Through home learning tasks, students were asked to view and comment on their group blogs. This ensured that everyone felt their work is being read and valued. Students that have their work read and reflected upon are more motivated to continue to write and share their work.


All student blogs were linked to their classroom  blog to ensure that each student was able to easily access not only their own blog, but their classmates blogs.

 

Writing Warm-up:

To increase student writing mileage, the senior school have been providing frequent opportunities for students to use an interesting writing prompt to complete a short piece of creative writing. Student attitude towards writing has improved as well as their writing as they are given further opportunities to practise their writing in a fun and interesting way. From sentence starters to interesting pictures and videos, each experience motivates students to write which increases their writing mileage daily. The short creative writing sessions provide plenty of material to be transferred onto their individual blogs to be shared with a wider audience.


Impact/Reflection:

We have found that many of our more reluctant writers have been frequently utilising their blogs for writing. Many of these students are posting up recounts of important experiences over the weekend including sports events etc.

We have also found that our high achieving students were using their blogs as an extension tool. They have been utilising their blogs frequently at home and have provided feedback for other students. They have been a lot more motivated to complete extra tasks knowing that their work will be further appreciated by a wide online audience.

Although the original purpose of only temporarily allowing admin rights was so that the students couldn’t change the settings we had established for each account, what we found what students spent a lot of time adding gadgets to their blog and changing background pictures which took up a lot of their time. Allowing the students a week of admin rights each term is enough to allow an opportunity for students to make those changes so they can then focus on posting on their blog as an author.

Writing warm-ups each morning have also increased the motivation of students as they are now enjoying writing more. 

A lot of work is being produced and published onto student blogs. Students are regularly accessing these blogs and viewing others work. We need to continue to find opportunities to share student blogs in assemblies, at home through by making links with Profiles of Learning and Student Reports. Making connections with other schools is another focus that we would like to investigate further. Many schools are using blogs as a medium to share student learning which provide opportunities to easily make connections with other schools by viewing and commenting on their learning. Each class has signed up to Quad Blogging which we hope to begin in September this year. http://quadblogging.net/

 

Student Feedback:

 



Student Blog Examples:
http://rps-sb-campbell.blogspot.co.nz/

http://rps-sb-lavisha.blogspot.co.nz/

http://rps-sb-gemini.blogspot.co.nz/

http://rps-sb-chantelle.blogspot.co.nz/

http://rps-sb-hannah.blogspot.co.nz/

http://rps-sb-lehman.blogspot.co.nz/

http://rps-sb-corey.blogspot.co.nz/

 

Next Steps: 

  • Continue to find opportunities to share student blogs at school and at home.
  • To continue to reflect and develop opportunities for students to utilise this online learning space in our literacy programmes. 
  • Students to continue to regularly use their blogs and the online tools relating to their blog to further increase confidence with these skills. 
  • Through regularly implementing an online student survey, we can now identify students who need further support with specific digital tools being taught.