Times are constantly changing and we need to change with it. The days of reading from books and writing exercises in copybooks is dying out. Personally, I find it very difficult to read articles on the web, my mind keeps getting side-tracked and I end up reading the same line numerous times. I need books to learn, or so I thought before beginning this module! I’ve never kept a diary and publishing my thoughts on the web was frightening to say the least but as Richardson says, ‘the best way to learn is to become a blogger’. I’ve only been using a blog the past few weeks and can already see immense benefits for its use in the primary school classroom. To put simply, a Blog is a webpage where one can publish posts which are displayed in reverse chronological order.
In the primary school the majority of children will use the web in some aspect; it is part and parcel in their lives at present. They have never known another era where technology wasn’t thriving. Therefore, as a teacher I need to engage wholly in the benefits of blogging so that I am confident when teaching while also expressing the true advantages of it. If the teacher is enthusiastic this will in turn motivate their students, otherwise it will be a means to an end, students will only use it in school because they have to. In my opinion, many teachers need to revise their outlook on literacy. When using a blog, children are not only acting as readers and writers but as editors and publishers too.
When I was teaching in a school at home, I saw the use of blogging in action. The principle had set up the website with each child having their own blogging page. After speaking with him about it, it was clear the amount of work that went into ensuring it was a safe environment in which the children could express themselves. Firstly, permission from each child’s parent/guardian was sought. The parent’s were invited to a meeting so that they had some knowledge of blogging before their child used it. Following this, the children were introduced to it slowly. The teachers began using it to communicate homework with their pupils. Once children were comfortable with accessing the site, teachers began leaving questions to which each child was expected to comment on. This was merely to ease them into publishing their thoughts. The children absolutely LOVED using the site and couldn’t believe I’d never heard of it (of course they loved ‘teaching the teacher too!) So one day we recorded a science experiment and I was shown how to upload these videos, i.e. the video associated with each child went to their individual page. The child then wrote up the corresponding experiment on their blog and gave their opinions on it. I remember writing up experiments and it felt like such a tedious task to me, I couldn’t believe how motivated the students were. They were developing their writing skills while having fun, it didn’t feel like work to them!
As Richardson advises, only the student’s first name was used on their blog with some creating a ‘made-up’ name. The teacher was the only person who knew what each name stood for. For security reasons they learned they shouldn’t publish personal identifiers. The students learned quickly that some items weren’t fit for their school blog as the teacher censored them before they were published and many were caught-out. On a brighter note, the students could personalise their own blog, thereby expressing their personalities and interests. They could upload videos of their favourite songs or photos of their favourite bands etc. They have freedom to express themselves, hence heightening their writing skills and developing their imagination.
It was clear that the benefits of blogging in this instance were endless. “Welcome to blogosphere!”
- NCTE Blogging in the Classroom.
- Richardson (2010) The Read/Write Web – Blogs, Wikis & Podcasts.
- Richardson (2010) Weblogs! Get Started! – Blogs, Wikis & Podcasts.