• 11.04.2011
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    This is the third guest post in our Digitalk series, where we ask teachers to showcase their class blogs. The aim is to promote blogging in school as an incredible tool to improve literacy, confidence, connections & ICT skills. We’ll leave it you to be inspired by this latest entry below.

    School: Bearwood Primary School
    Ms Jennifer Martindale
    Class blog: http://year4atbearwood.wordpress.com/

    At Bearwood Primary we have only been blogging for around a year, but now that we have seen so many successes I can’t imagine why we didn’t do it sooner and couldn’t imagine learning without the blog to show case and reflect on our learning.

    The blog has quite simply changed the way we learn.

    It has motivated all children in my class, including the boys. It is incredible to see the sea of hands (including previously ‘reluctant writers’) that shoot up when I ask ‘So…who wants to blog about what we just learned?’ or even better when a child asks ‘Miss, can I stay in at lunch and write a blog post about that?’

    As the year has passed the way we use the blog has evolved.

    It started out as a ‘window’ into our classroom with mostly parents in mind. I wanted a way to share what we do with the families of children and include them so they could support learning. At first, the posts were mostly written by me and mainly featured photos of activities from class.

    Now I hardly ever write posts unless it is to add links to a learning resource or to pose a question or discussion prompt.

    The blog allows many opportunities to enhance and extend learning.

    Children love writing posts to explain what they have been doing. This not only provides an authentic writing experience but also allows an assessment opportunity for me as teacher to see if they have learned what I thought they would.

    Adding comments allows children to reflect on what went well in a lesson.

    I am certain that these authentic experiences have contributed to the vast improvement in writing levels in a  short time in my class. Here’s a selection of genuine reactions from my class (quoted verbatim – you can read the rest on their Liniot Wall):

    A dynamic wall that the pupils added their thoughts about blogging

    • “I like blogging because it helps you with your learning and if you are ill and can’t come to school then you can see at the blog. – Shawon”
    • “I enjoy the blog becuase it helps you with things you found tricky at school like angles then Miss Martindale puts on an angle game wich helps me. Also it helps me with my writing- before I didn’t like to write but now I really enjoy writing now. – Paige”
    • “Before I thought that when I wrote something nobody could read , now we can put our work on the blog and anyone from the world can can read it. Blogging is fun!!!!! – Zara”
    • “I like blogging because if you have forgotten anything you can look at it on the blog and I like the math games. – Cameron”

    We have also developed learning further by using various web based tools, mostly recommended by teachers on twitter.

    For example we have successfully used Voicethread to peer assess writing, Audioboo to record word problems and embed these in the blog, Surveymonkey to do market research and to write quizzes to support learning. These tools have allowed the blog to extend learning and allow 24/7 ‘learning without walls’. They have changed the way I teach and have up-skilled children in using ICT to enhance learning.

    The possibility of having your work shared with (quite literally) the world has motivated and engaged children across the curriculum.

    It now seems crazy that we used to write stories without sharing them beyond our own classrooms. I would never have predicted that we would receive hits from literally all over the world. It was a revolution to children (and staff!) when we received comments from teachers and children in Australia saying we had inspired their learning or giving us feedback on our work. We have had nearly 40,000 visitors to our blog from over 40 different countries.

    The latest development is that we have started a school radio station that is shared via our school radio blog.

    We took part in a film- making project through creative partnerships. During this project the blog gave children a reflection space and also allowed children to document the film making process. This helped children to learn but also documented the whole process so that I can use the blog to teach this myself (without the aid of a professional film-maker) to future classes. I’ll leave the final words to a couple of girls from my class:

    “We adore blogging because it gives us a chance to keep learning even out school and helps us with our education. It’s so amazing that we can’t wait to get home and share with our families what we have been doing at school. We love it when we can go onto all the links that our teacher Miss Martindale puts on the blog like voice threads, linoits and so many fun games!

    Not only can we look at what we’ve been doing at school, we can leave a comment showing our opinions and have discussions with our class mates and they can give us feedback of what they think as well.

    Many people all over the world comment on our blog and see all our hard work on our subjects. So far we have 42,477 hits.

    When someone is in the middle of writing a piece of writing they can type it into a Voicethread and get feedback to improve their story or letter.

    We’re actually at the moment trying out something new where a child can write a story or exiting news, put it onto a memory stick or email it to our teacher at any ttime and post it on the blog for the whole world to see.

    A few weeks ago our year group was doing a film project and as we were working on our films we put a few clips on the blog which really helped us to learn.

    Also if there’s a lesson that we need to be ready for the following day, Miss Martindale can type a post up so we can plan for what we need to do. It’s simple really, all you need to do is write your name, email and post to leave something on the blog.

    We hope you find our blog very interesting because it really helps us.”

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