Developing blogging in the classroom

Introduction: As part of my ongoing work in collaborating with colleagues I have been trying to develop blogging with other colleagues within my school. This blog post is therefore co-edited by another of my colleagues within the school and is a combination of points developed in a meeting we had and a reflection on how we can use them next:

Richard’s noticing

Richard started off by showing how he had been using blogging with a couple of the Year 7 classes he teaches. Both Richard and Andy had previously worked out how to create blogs (which is detailed in this post) and so at the end of their last meeting they had decided to start trying to use it with one task on a few of our classes. Andy was interested in how the approach of using blogging for homework out of the lesson as a starting point for using it, had worked. This was different to Andy’s approach of using it firmly within the context of the lesson and showed that they already had developed different ideas about how the idea of blogging with a class could be used.

The responses from Richard’s homework blogs were promising; a number of students had completed the homework already and were now queued for Richard to ‘approve’ or ‘reject’. Richard again highlighted that this was an interesting option because it places increased emphasis on the value of what appears in the blog: if the students work was not quite up to the standard expected, then it could be sent back to the student for redrafting. This means that the final product of the blog post is given more value to the students, as they can see that the piece of work that have produced has met or exceeded the required standard.

Andy’s noticing

Andy showed Richard the way he had been using blogging with his Year 8 English class. Essentially the blog was being used as an opportunity for students to post their creative writing pieces. There were different examples available on the blog – some the ‘bite-sized’ mini-sagas they had produced (which must be exactly fifty words), and some postings were of the students Horror stories. Andy remarked that an issue with using blogging in class is that the teacher can quickly move away from being a facilitator to an administrator – especially with only being able to approve one blog post at a time. Nevertheless, what had been achieved was a blog that contained both further comments from the students on blog posts that weren’t just their own and some students had recognised the instruction to begin categorising their posts in the ‘Gothic Genre’ area; easier to find for future for reference.

Ideas for further development

  • Richard was interested in exploring getting students to comment on other students’ post, and categorising posts. Andy showed him how to do this and then they both discussed why both could be useful – Andy had used commenting as a way of encouraging peer assessment between the students’ story and had begun to try categorising because he wants to be able to keep using the blog throughout the year and wanted a way for students (and him) to organise and easily find the rapidly increasing amount of blog posts.
  • Andy was very interested in the idea of setting a blog post as homework. This could really help develop students’ reflective learning. It also places more value on homework, as the blog is something that could then be reflected on in another homework by other students, or within a classroom lesson.

We intend to meet soon after Christmas to further explore the issues raised in this post. Merry Christmas everyone!