Class Blogs – just a gimmick?
Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a great fan of class blogs. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will see me chatting with teachers and promoting work that has been posted by the children. In a previous post ‘Class Blogs and Comments’ you will see that my position is very favourable to these relatively recent additions to class rooms.
There are a variety of class blogs just as there is with ‘grown up’ ones. Some are simply information boards with details of trips and unusual happenings (snow for example). Others provide parents with a snapshot of what has been happening in class that day. Then you have the blogs that are used to showcase children’s work. I suspect ‘posting on the blog’ is the reward for checking spelling and making sure it is ‘best’ work.
Some teachers post items that are to encourage the children to engage with the blog, often for homework. There may be pictures from the latest topic or clips from a visit with accompanying questions. The success of this approach is very much dependant on the confidence the children have to go into the blog outside school hours.
Finally there are the ‘free for all’ blogs which give 24/7 access to the children to post whatever they like. Don’t worry, there is a gate keeper moderating these posts and again you will see homework as well as free writing. Over the past few months I have seen children’s confidence blossom with greater quantity of work being produced. Other children are just taking their first tentative ‘steps’ of sharing their thoughts with a few lines.
Now that I’m into the swing of them I thought I’d reflect on where next? Those class blogs that I link with are predominantly language based with literacy work being shown although I have seen some maths challenges as well. There is huge potential for other curriculum areas to be featured and the growth in games work will soon be seen on blogs I’m sure. However, that makes me pose the question ‘What is the educational benefit of class blogging?’
- Certainly the development of self esteem is hugely beneficial and should not be underestimated but should it go beyond building confidence? If the answer to that question is yes – then what direction should they go in? As a commentator, I have always been complimentary about what I’ve seen but should my role go beyond that? For instance should I comment about spelling (I have had to apologise for my own with awful regularity!)?
Sometimes, it is easy to see what the purpose of the lesson was and how the post fits in. At other times that is not clear so this would make commenting on areas other than compliments risky. I have taken to posing questions for the children to respond to. Some classes are getting really good with interacting and I can see that they are developing their ideas before replying. Is there perhaps a further role for this wider, possibly world-wide, audience? Would it be possible to exchange tasks maybe and develop a cross- cultural link in the same way as we encourage that crossing of subjects and themes. An initial foray into this idea with Heathfield Primary has brought up the elephant in the room of CRB checks and children’s safety. I’m sure they can be overcome once a process is developed so are we looking at a number of ‘teachers’ working with our children.
An interesting project set up by Sugata Mitra ‘Granny Cloud’ which has gone a step further, has shown that working across continents is possible so why not across counties!
Do you have class blogs and what is the rationale behind them? What will be needed to embed that practice and how can they be extended?
(If you would like me to link with your class blogs please leave a comment below. It is much easier for me if email subscriptions can be available as I’m hopeless with readers and it ensures I don’t miss postings!)