One step forward, two steps back

My previous post highlighted what I perceive to be wonderful leaps forward in our collaborative and purposeful use of Web 2.0 tools.  We recently held a parent forum where parents were encouraged to give feedback on all spheres of our operation within the school – we sought warm and cool feedback and it will be no surprise that we received both.

I will have to admit to a fair amount of surprise about the comments on our blogging.  Many positive mentions were made about the improved home/school communication and window in to the classroom, however, there was more negativity than I expected.  Basically, it appears that we have not communicated or it has not been accepted that the value of blogging is worth the emphasis we place on it.  This is obviously from a small sample of parents and a few vocal ones but nevertheless is important.  From reading the comments, I think I can separate the reactions to valuing Class Blogs, but not valuing or understanding Student Blogs.

One parent made a valid comment about blogs needing to be purposeful, going on to suggest that they include spelling words etc.  My  feeling is that that parent and others are doing what we all do when relating to education and relating it to our own experience as students. Trying to transport our experience into today’s world.

There is a mindset shift required to understand the added value provided by publishing our work in an on-line space instead of writing in our exercise books.  This Parent Forum highlighted to me that we are yet to fully inform our parent community of this concept and get them on board.  On further reflection, I think we also need to re-visit the concept with our staff as well to ensure a consistent approach across our school.

Earlier this year, twenty of our senior primary students voluntarily embarked on the Student Blogging Challenge.  As with any venture, there were mixed reactions.  On the whole though, it was wonderful.   It was very worthwhile with many ‘teachable’ moments coming from the on-line interactions  and  it seems to have really inspired many other students who are now embarking on the current round of the Blogging Challenge.  I have noticed how our new set of bloggers have taken to the medium with enormous enthusiasm and great skills.  They seem to know that they have an audience, they have strategies for attracting comments, they interact with each other with quality comments.  They have learnt a great deal from their peers who are now mentoring them.

Ever since the parent forum, I have in the back of my mind, how to get the message across to parents ?


Student Blogging Challenge

All our classes have class blogs and we have been dabbling with Student blogging for a few years.  I began the students with KidBlogs and think it is a wonderful introduction – very easy to manage from a teachers perspective and easy to use from a student’s view.  There are enough features to introduce them to many aspects of blogging.

This year, I feel we are ready to move on and I am introducing the students to Edublogs (via Global2) and using the Student Blogging Challenge as a catalyst.

I asked for volunteers to be accept the challenge as I felt that mandating it would be too much and a bit unfair to some students.   I am thrilled with the first response and will begin working with the first group of volunteers next week, hoping their activity might inspire a few uncertain ones.

I am doing this as I believe that blogging has so many benefits for students.  When blogging,

  • we create an audience for our work and writing and thereby inspire a quest for excellence
  • we can gather ideas from many more people than just our small class or school
  • we can share the wonderful things we know
  • we feel good about ourselves as we get positive feedback about the things we do
  • we let our families know more about what we do at school
  • we get feedback by wonderful comments that help us think more about what we do and sometimes why we do them
  • we interact with our readers via comments and practice appropriate language skills for online interactions
  • we create a wonderful positive digital footprint
  • we  model and practice Cybersafe behaviours

More to follow as the challenge begins.