Monday, 15 May 2017

My Spark M.I.T inquiry - take 2!

My initial inquiry was looking at ways to improve engagement and learning outcomes for our year 9 students through blogging.  Before coming to the college, the students in the primary schools in our cluster had been blogging since year 0 and I wanted to implement blogging as 'normal practice' in year 9 social studies programmes.  This was one strategy that I could see working in helping with transitioning from primary school to secondary school which has always been a challenge.

Although blogging at our school is something that is done dependant on the teacher (or department), I decided to focus on how we could implement it within my department.  I set up class blogs and helped to ensure that students had access to their individual blogs.  In our department meetings, we found opportunities to share lessons when we would write a class blog and what we wanted students to write and reflect on in their individual blogs. Looking back at our terms work, I found that my teachers added a few blogs here and there on their blogs, but rarely commented on students' work. On reflection, I have found that the teachers were hesitant and may have needed more guidance on blogging.  I had taken it for granted they would regularly blog and comment on their students blogs.  I also felt that like the kids, teachers too needed an authentic audience and purpose for blogging and commenting.  To confirm this, I conducted a student voice survey that found 78% of our students found that blogging helped them with their learning and that it was beneficial to help them succeed because other people were reading them which gave them purpose.  One student even commented about their future job prospects:

"Yes, blogging helps us. Because when you post all of your idea's, thinking/knowledge and that on your blog, their might be people from around the country that work at a very special big company or job like that and they might like our post or what ever and maybe want to make something out of it and stuff".

Our Spark M.I.T day today has helped me re-evaluate my focus slightly that in order to ensure engagement for our kids, the teachers need to be engaged and on-board.  My next steps will include showing the teachers the results of the survey and creating multiple opportunities for them to write their blogs and understand the value in using them in their teaching and learning pedagogy.

To support me in this process, we have been paired up with Spark 'Buddies' who provide insight and 'another pair of eyes' on our inquiry process.  As part of the Spark Foundation's initiative Raven Garcia has the privilege of being my buddy this year.  We discussed ways in which I could use strategies that could engage my department like 'Toastmasters' and 'Linked in' for ideas which were really useful sites that I will explore further.  As I move towards a different (but related) focus, I am excited to take up the challenge.

Spark M.I.T team getting to know each other

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