Friday, 17 March 2017

To blog or not to blog - that is the question!

One of the biggest tools of the Manaiakalani model of 'Learn, Create, Share' was the sharing of students learnings through blogging, something the primary schools in our cluster have taught their students to use.  At Tamaki, blogging was being used by some staff with their classes but we still needed to use this better as it inconsistent and under-utilised in our school.

For our year 9 sustainability unit, I wanted to develop the use of blogging in our school to ease the transitions from primary to secondary and thought that if we enforced blogging as an expectation at in social studies at least it could be filtered across school into other curriculum areas.  I was happy to trial the setting up of the blogs and implementing it into our units. I decided to create class blogs whereby the teacher would post ideas that kids were learning or activities or questions that the class could relate to, in order to ensure that learning was visible to an audience like our parents and other students across the school.

Firstly we needed to ensure that our kids had blogs and although it was a little bit of a logistics barrier at first, eventually the majority of the students were up and running using their blog addresses from their primary schools.  One of the reasons why it was important to keep their primary school addresses was because we could see a shift in their writing and we progress in their thinking.  The tracking of their learning journey from years 0 (for many of them) to where they were now would help us know how much of an impact each of the stages of their lives had on them  - imagine looking at your blogs in 20 years time and remembering all the wonderful memories you made at school!

Secondly, I had to familiarise myself with blogger.  I have to admit, I had rarely used it for student work let alone as a means of communicating with the students.  The idea of my thoughts on teaching and thinkings as public to the world scared me a bit but I had to try!.  Thanks to Karen Ferguson's 'how to' site, I learnt that you could have lots of blogs and be administrators to all of them and not worry about being perfect in what I said.  I learnt that you needed to be factual.  I also looked at some of the primary schools class blogs.  I then created a site for each of the year 9 classes and shared them with their social studies teachers.

Thirdly, I had to see where my department were at with blogging and if they felt comfortable to give feedback.  I gave them some examples of class blogs and feedback, and assured them that with practice and collaboration between us as a department, we would be able to see how well (or not so well) class blogs worked.  I could sense a bit of apprehension on their part and explained that it would be a start of a relationship with the students that could be developed and as a department, we would support each other on the journey.

Here is the link to our class blogs and site.  

Our class blogs on the social studies site. 

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