• 25 Jan

    This is the second guest post in our Digitalk series, where we showcase class blogs. The aim is to promote blogging in school as an incredible tool to improve literacy, confidence, connections, ICT skills and…well we’ll leave it you to be inspired by this latest entry below. The enthusiasm from Mr Sloan and his class for blogging shines through.

    Ferry Lane blog

    School: Ferry Lane Primary School, Tottenham, London
    Teacher: Mr Jack Sloan | Email: jack.sloan2 at gmail.com
    Class blog: http://year5.ferrylane.net/

    When I first started blogging with children nearly five years ago, I could never have imagined the impact it would have had, both on me as a teacher, and on the children that I have taught. Blogging has revolutionised my practice. Using blogs within schools has two powerful and measurable benefits.

    Firstly, it allows for real collaboration; within and outside the school.

    Providing the ability for parents, other schools, professionals and relatives in other countries to comment, criticise, and collaborate in their childrens’ work is hugely powerful. My children know that when they work, they do so with the support and encouragement of their peers and a more extended network.

    They know this because they get comments.

    Lots of them. Straight away.

    They improve on their work because children from New Zealand tell them to look out for their capital letters, and because a headteacher in Tanzania helps them with their subject knowledge.

    They work with each other over the weekend without leaving their living rooms, using tools like Voicethread and Google Docs to help them collaborate. They come into school telling me that they have been doing experiments, visiting museums and advising their classmates on using more interesting adjectives. They are engaged because of the blog.

    Mr Sloan's class uses Voicethread to encourage collaboration

    Secondly, school blogs provide a window on the world.

    The children I teach will tell you where our visitors come from. They will argue over why so few come from Sub-Saharan Africa and why we never actually see Australians on our blog during school hours (although we know that they visit us in their hundreds).

    Blogs provide an audience and a real-life interface to the outside which is easy to keep safe, but still has the immediacy and excitement of the social-media world (in which they live outside of school hours).

    • Our kids feel valued.
    • Their work is looked at, scrutinised and appreciated.
    • It doesn’t live in a dusty book – it develops through time.
    • My kids write, and write, and write!

    Enough from me. Here are some views from my fantastic Year 5 children at Ferry Lane Primary School.

    They’ve been blogging for six months, and advocate the use of blogs in school as much as I do. To kick things off in style, here is Sharon writing for the most cynical of classroom Luddites. Sharon is 10 years old and wrote this as a post at home, by herself. It is unedited here.

    Have you ever thought that the Internet was an incredible waste of precious time?

    Do you really think that mindless kids could achieve incredible things?

    Are you positively sure that blogs are any safer than enraged hyenas?

    Well, if you really are that cynical, I don’t know what kind of things you have been hearing. However I haven’t written this great (if I say so myself) article to mock you.

    This is specifically to the most negative of adults (and kids) who haven’t the foggiest idea of what they are talking about when they say “Blogs are horrendous, they’re not safe . BLAAH, BLAAH, BLAAH!” And on and on they drone.

    I guarantee you that by the end of this article you will be star stuck.

    Also you will be left in complete and utter awe, just thinking “Where was I all this time?” Utterly re-born (trust me!).“Yeah, yeah, as if I will ever learn to love a nonsense blog,” you may be complaining. Even if you are in this position, you will soon understand what the fuss is about.

    A long time ago (in approximately 2009) lived a time where life and excitement were at war. Blogs and schools neglected each other.

    A time that I honestly hated. When no one really cared about us poor, innocent, little children.

    And if you were to learn this piece of information from anyone in the world, you would probably have to learn it from us, the spectacular Ferry lane Yr5. Soon after (basically 2010) the blogging revolution changed everything completely. It took a turn down brilliant lane, which of course was marvellous. Blogs were officially accepted in schools!

    Such mind-blowing news, right?

    Well not for all (maybe not even for you). If you would just hear my humble yet glorious words, your treacherous thoughts will vanish within one heartbeat.

    Beautiful things happen at times you don’t quite expect them to. I mean, we used to live a life of horror and torture (this was before, mind). Until the hero arrived (finally), of which you may know him as….”MR. SLOAN!”

    You could get why he was so popular to us. He was THE creator of blogs. Well let’s just say the creator of blogs within our area. When the blog began, each and every one of our lives transformed from a terrible murky grey, to sprinkles of gold.

    We started to write, write, write and we became more famous by the minute (not so surprising really). Although this isn’t my point, in fact being famous is never the point of blogging and never will be.

    What I am trying to say is that when you see kids (even adults) learn and explore brand new and fascinating things, don’t you think much more excitement will grab hold of someone’s distressed life. That wouldn’t be so horrible, would it? Just think of it!

    Aren’t you a tiny bit tired of hearing the same old words being said by the exact same people “I don’t want to do any work!” Don’t you just plead to see children have a laugh (a good laugh by the way) on the Internet knowing that they are proud of their own precious work? You see, me being a child, I certainly know that us kids just don’t get many opportunities during our childhoods.

    That’s one of the greatest things about the blog, no matter what the age; you have the skills to SHINE (seriously)!

    Encouragement has a huge influence on blogging. No encouragement means no more writing. Children will never for the rest of the millennium, even think about typing a single letter on the blog without it. Plus all these users from around the world will expect outstanding work.

    This is why it is a big deal for people to comment.

    You know, to make them think “Oh, I’m quite good at this let me carry on doing it!” To make them never give up on a single dream.

    The impact on my life would most definitely be the blog. The comments make me stronger as a person, the activities are compelling and I just have a BLAST!!

    “So what, you get good comments, you still haven’t proved to me why I should go on this so called, ridiculous Ferry lane blog”.

    “Well, you just don’t understand the complete message of blogging, do you?” (and anyway who said I was finished?).

    You can’t even be bothered to go on this stupendous blog, and yet gazillions of people from all around the world can. I can name you a montage of countries that have checked up on our blog. Australia, America even Mongolia. New Zealand, Canada, Swaziland too.

    So you get what I’m saying.

    The quality of our work is outstanding and that’s what usually gets more people attracted to our blog (you can’t argue with that, we’ve already had over 1,000 comments in 5 months).

    All pieces of great of work are something that children cherish. In 10 years time, we will probably think “Oh, is that really what I did at the age of 10?”

    Blogs aren’t just about improving your writing, there are sacks of things that you could do.

    Maths, science, being critical about each other and more. This doesn’t only affect users, it also helps other generations. Basically, when new kids start blogs we could be an inspiration to them, people from outside of Ferry lane.

    ” OK, I admit, I JUST NEED TO START BLOGGING!!”.

    You see, blogs aren’t made for lazy, people who waste time. So don’t just sit there, START PRONTO!!!

    The impact of blogging is huge. Writing attainment is rising rapidly as a result, as is engagement. Parents and staff are keen once their fears over e-safety are allayed, and I have never seen such a straightforward, attractive and easy to manage way to get schools looking through the window, full of awe, into the world around them.

    Click here for a large version of the Voicethread

    PS: If you liked the above you might want to check out “Digitalk No.1 – If I hear that song again…

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