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How a primary school teacher in a Western Sydney school used blogED with his class May 18, 2010

Posted by Editor21C in Directions in Education, Engaging Learning Environments, Primary Education.
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From Jane Hunter

A few people have asked me about “the snapshot” of how a primary school teacher in a Western Sydney school used blogED with his class**.

 Here it is …

 “Imagine a classroom where there are no silent voices?” Mitchell Hooper, Assistant Principal at Blake Road Public School posted a comment on the ‘bloglog’ (used by the blogED project team to capture teacher feedback during the trial). The post said “Empowerment! I have a number of children who rarely contribute to classroom discussions. The blog has given them a voice. They’re impressed and so am I”.

 Mitchell continued his commentary a few days later, “the posts and comments students made demonstrate that the blog was their preferred forum for expressing views and providing information – the fact that they could post from behind an avatar (and an) alias gave them more strength”.

 Mitchell produced three class blogs for his Year 3/4 class of 28 students: 

 1. a ‘private’ blog[1] that recreated the First Fleet voyage; a whole term activity that simulated Cook’s journey. Each day students made decisions and kept a ‘ship log’ of the voyage on the blog, they wrote about which course to set, weather patterns, food shortages, mutinies and disease;

 2.  a ‘public’ blog for parents to view their child’s ‘ship log’. Mike said, “parents were very impressed with both the standard of writing and the depth of knowledge and information the children were learning from the sailing simulation”; and

 3.  another ‘public’ blog to communicate with a students in a class at Barnes Primary School in the United Kingdom. Its purpose, “was to share and exchange cultural information about our two schools and countries. We have achieved some success and we built on this in the later part of 2009”. 

 Mitchell captured the experience in his short film, “A Day in the Life of Blake Road Public School”. In the film students describe, “being able to upload all kinds of photos, download homework” and “how the blog improved typing skills as well as being able to get answers to questions from peers”. The blog enabled Mitchell to embed many elements of the NSW Quality Teaching Framework, he used engagement, metalanguage, higher order thinking skills, narrative and connectedness, but particularly substantive communication. He said,

“the substantive communication aspect was very strong. I noticed that the children were able to slip very easily into the language of the blog and could readily discuss posts and comments. With minimal instruction, each child was able to log in and navigate his/her way around the blog. Many became adept at uploading files, their photographs and homework. It was often the reluctant ‘paper submitters’ who were the first to use the blog”.
 

 

 

Using a blog for teaching and learning differs from other pedagogical approaches. Mitchell explained, “the potential for blogED is huge. Different interest/ability groups can be set up. For example, podcasts of a musical piece could be uploaded so that instrumental music students could practise with their teacher, outside knowledge experts from places like NASA could be invited to post and comment. The blog, in part, re-creates the child’s digital bedroom at school. In the hands of a passionate pedagogue, it is a powerful learning tool”.

** Names in this piece are pseudonyms. The conversation was recorded during the DET blog trial with teachers in 2009. The full release of the blog occurred in early March this year, to date more than 400 schools have signed up to use it.

An extra aside here – you might like to have a look at a new book on Australian blog writing edited by Karen Andrews “Miscellaneous Voices #1” – it’s quite stunning!


[1] A ‘private’ blog operates within the DET Intranet, with appropriate permissions to make a blog ‘public’ it is available on the Internet where others can view and comment (with owner moderation) but not post.

Comments»

1. Gaby Aitkin - June 8, 2010

I have signed up for blog ED – can’t wait to test it out with a class. I completely agree that it gives the silent voices in your classroom the opportunity to speak, particularly in a class where many are silent or soft voiced for culturally related reasons.


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