At the end of term 2, I wanted to test out whether year 9 students would blog during the holidays by setting up a holiday blogging challenge. We know students may not think about school much over the two weeks holiday and I wanted to see what would happen if I gave them a challenge that would force them to. I decided to do a few things to set this up.
1. SURVEY THE YEAR 9 STUDENTS FOR IDEAS FOR TOPICS.
I shared with the entire year 9 cohort a short survey because I was interested in finding out who would blog during the holiday break. Out of the 100 or so students in year 9, 28 from different tutor classes completed the survey.
I wanted to see if students would have internet access during the holidays and surprisingly, a number said they would not have access.
Then I asked students, if they were to blog in their holidays, to list 2 or 3 things that they would blog about. There were lots of varied answers, but the majority said the holidays, family and other subjects that were of interest to them which helped me with the next step.
I designed a document that had lots of different topics chosen by the students. I gave them the choice to either use the document to help them scaffold their writing or to just blog about it. For each topic there was a document that had a scaffolded 'solo' type structure to help students with their writing for that topic.
During the first week of the holidays, I got 6 or 7 emails from really keen students signing up to do the challenge - one student stayed up until 2am on the first night to work on the tasks! Although this was positive, of the 28 students who completed the survey, only 5 students actually completed at least one blog.
|This student shows the extended abstract SOLO image next to his writing|
One of my students in the class I teach really surprised me by completing all of his documents and blog posts shared. His e-asttle scores at the beginning of the year were at 2P, and as I read through his documents this past week to see how well he has written, I can see a huge improvement in how far he has come and I am hoping that he moves up a level (fingers crossed).
4. NEXT STEPS:
I want to find out why so few students completed the survey or blogged over the holidays. I will meet with the 5 students who did try, as a focus group and get their feedback into why they decided to blog. I also want to meet with other students who didn't blog and also get their feedback. I also want to look at how other schools assign challenges like the one I did, and get ideas as to how to promote it better as I feel that I could have prepared the students better before the holidays for the challenge.
I then want to sit down with a team of students to design a plan as to how we can get their peers to blog over the Christmas holidays. I am really interested in this idea of blogging over Christmas because I want to start thinking about addressing another challenge we have - the summer holiday slump.