Class Blogs – just a gimmick?

Class Blogs

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!)

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  • I see our departments blog as a way for students to share work that they are doing with other students but also the world. I have found it has encouraged one or 2 reluctant writers, its still early days but the feedback has been positive…i.e. students like to see what is going on and one or 2 have been inspired by their peers.
    Luckily being a Sixth Form College some we have a little more freedom. My next plan is to share what we are doing in our area with the other departments in the college and try to get some parental involvement.

      

    • Julia

      I love visiting your blog Helen although I get a bit scared in case I’m not being ‘professional’ enough! I love the way the students explain their thoughts behind their work & I love thier work. It is just amazing to see how they are evolving it.Thank you so much for popping in!

        

  • In short, I like using them for so many reasons. Gimmick – agreed but only in the sense that IWB’s were and are. The challenge is to continually update the use of them especially in respect of embedding other website applications. My class blog seems to be repeating similarly to my previous terms blog use – heavy literacy, then the final weeks of the term a flurry of posts from a range of curriculum areas. Next weeks http://www.elmhambrook.primaryblogger.co.uk will be a flood with the art, science and music we have been doing. Yet at the present it seems to only show literacy elements these past few weeks. So I certainly see them as tool for capturing and celebrating learning to an audience. This aspect of celebration goes beyond pupils sharing activities with sisters, brothers, mums, dads etc as earlier this term on a embedded wallwisher post my year 6 had posts from classes around the world indicating an interest in their work and vice versa. I could go on…

      

    • Julia

      I do hope you realise that I don’t think they are a gimmick? I have seen lots of progress bieng made but as usual, we want more! So glad your class is getting a great blogging experience & many thanks for visiting!

        

  • Alan Beedie

    We are at an early stage, with certain enthusiastic teachers leading the way. Year 4 have started posting as contributors, also Year 5 to an extent, but not Year 6 because their teachers are still focused completely on SATs! Most active is Year 3, but children are not posting yet, only commenting.
    We are running with it, and it is supporting learning in a variety of ways. For example, I am asking my Year 6 maths group to leave a comment to prove they have visited my blog, and completed homework type activities. We are also using blogs to showcase work to parents and visitors.
    We won’t be renewing our learning platform in April, therefore we need our blog as a learning community, at least until an alternative learning platform is in place.

      

    • theheadsoffice

      Sounds like exciting things are happening Alan & that’s what uit is all about! You will get the others on board I’m sure when they see what reaction the children have to blogging! Thanks for dropping by!

        

  • Victoria

    Victoria Thomas
    My Y3 blog is to engage the children in thier learning. I like to put games and other interactive games on. I place the Get Talking, Get Learning so parents and children can engage in homework together. My blog is also a snap shot of what is happening in school. My children love to explain the pictures to their parents and they like to reflect on thier own learning. It’s a brilliant tool to engage parents too.

      

    • Julia

      Sounds like you have a great recipe there Victoria. Do pasrents comment? I know that is the next step for some schools. Many thanks for visiting. Hope to see you again!

        

  • Michelle Hill

    The blogging ‘learning journey’ is certainly a long one. The #classblogs that you comment on are all somewhere on the continuum of this journey. I think that blogs can start off as somewhat gimmicky and novel but, over time, the value of them grows incredibly quickly. When we first set up http://leamoreblogs.net, I was thrilled with the children’s response, but disappointed at the lack of staff enthusiasm. Was blogging going to be one of ‘those’ initiatives? Nagging didn’t work. Total freedom really didn’t work. Patience and a willingess to suggest ideas and spend time helping individual staff have really helped our #classblogs to take off. I’m looking forward to the rest of the blogging journey!

    Also, thank you very much Julia for the amount of time you invest into our #classblogs. You contributions are much valued!

      

  • Nikki Davies

    I like my class blog because it gives the children a chance to showcase their work, they really love people reading it and giving them comments. It’s also a way for me to share work with parents, as parents only come into school about 3 times a year but it lets them see snapshots of drama, posters we’ve made, pieces of work, my info about the work and all that sort of thing that otherwise they would miss out on. I’d be really happy if my son’s class had a blog as I feel I don’t really have a clue what he does at school, even though he goes to the same school I work at!!!

    I think it can be hard for outside commenters to judge what to put as they are not aware of the normal level of the children, what the success criteria were or what consititutes an amazing effort for someone but an easy piece for someone else. So I think generally positive comments that take an interest or make suggestions about how it could be improved a la 2 stars and a wish are brilliant, spelling I don’t mind about so much as I am trying to build their confidence in posting their own work at the moment rather than me typing it up, but I think proofreading and checking back over grammar and spelling is something I’d like to develop as they get more interested in writing their own blog posts.

    For educational benefits, rather than just sharing info with parents (though i think that is really important) I’d say it builds self esteem, allows children to write for a purpose and lets them celebrate each other’s work and maybe strive to emulate each other’s successes. It’s not that common that they see each other’s work, but a blog means they are able to see what others have done, praise them and then see if they can do just as well.

    I really love my blog and so do the class!

      

  • Pam Thompson

    I’ve been using a class blog with my students for the last three years. It was initially set up to share work so that parents didn’t have to wait until work went home, and so that they could see work that wasn’t paper based. The focus then changed a little as we opened up to a more global audience so that students could access an authentic audience.

    Now our blog also serves as a connection to other classes around the world, such as the Quadblogging project setup by @DeputyMitchell, the Bloggers’ Challenge (http://theedublogger.com/tag/student-blogging-challenge/) and the Bloggers’ Cafe (http://thebloggerscafe.edublogs.org/).

    I do a fair bit of cybersafety awareness with my students so that they have a good understanding of what is appropriate an safe to put online. By the middle of the year most of my students also have their own blogs too.

    My main battle has been to get parents more active on our blogs. I think they visit, but don’t often leave comments.

      

  • Pam Thompson

    Oops, forget to give you the address of our class blog – http://thompson67.edublogs.org

      

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