The topic of the week is Blogging with children from Year 1 – 13 with David Mitchell.
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This week we had a fantastic conversation with blogging expert, David Mitchell, also known as @DeputyMitchell on Twitter.
David believes that blogging can help raise achievement for pupils from as early as possible until the end of their school careers and beyond. It’s not the software which is important – it’s what you do with it He defines a blog as an online platform which is 100% open to the public – and this is essential. This means anyone can read, see hear or watch whatever is on that platform and also – crucially – they can leave comments.
In his experience, comments can be really powerful. Children he has worked with have received comments form people like:
– The German Ambassador to the UK
– Authors like Michael Murpurgo
– Hollywood director James Cameron
– Members of the Royal Family
– TV presenters
– Sports personalities
The ability to get access to experts in the real world, outside schools is very powerful because of its impact on the learners.
In order to get started, teachers often blog for the children in their classes. Pupils will like this and comment but the real power comes from giving children themselves the rights to create blog posts – especially from home. David mentions he has seen boys in Year 6 writing over 150,000 words in one year from home on their class blog – because they are so motivated by receiving comments and writing for a real audience.
Teachers often worry that blogging will be an additional task but David insists this is not the case – blogging can be done for free and with the right tools posts of different kinds can be made instantly.
David describes the way in which pupils should be given contributor rights and teachers admin rights. This helps with e-safety because teachers can approve everything which appears on the blog in public. This also includes approval of any comments so if any are inappropriate nobody needs to see them.
In a recent Ofsted report, the lack of time for extended writing was highlighted and David believes this can be addressed by blogging.
How to get started
You just need one internet-connected computer to get started because the aim is to get pupils to fall in love with blogging and to want to blog from home. Your single computer can give them a taster of what is possible. If it has a micriphone attached, you are ready to start. Everything else you may have in school is a bonus and some of the most effective uses of blogging David has seen have been in schools who don’t have access to lots of technology but make the best of what they do have.
Sometimes tools you want to use are filtered by your broadband provider in school. If this is the case, David advocates a sustained campaign of hassling the provider. It is possible in some places to be given access to the filter settings of a single school and if you find yourself without access to web-based tools you need, David says that schools now have the power to change their providers.
What not to buy
David has seen schools buy lots of iPads but not invest in wireless infrasctructure which makes the devices unusable. He also thinks that digital cameras and visualisers are less useful now that smartphones and tablets have so much more functionality and he prefers several plasma or LCD screens in a classroom to a single, expensive interactive whiteboard.
Access to the web
The vast majority of pupils now have access to the web at home so they can blog. Those who don’t can be catered for in playtime or lunchtime clubs and David has seen this working very effectively. Where the opprtunities are open to all, there is no stigma attached.
This is a concept which grew out of a need David identified to promote access to school blogs around the word and international collaboration between schools.
When David started to try and get international links for his school blogs, it took him months. Now, schools can contact three others anywhere in the world through the official Quadblogging site http://quadblogging.com/ which manages the process.
Quadblogging gives you a leg-up to a global audience
Each week, one school has the focus and the other schools concentrate on leaving comments on that school’s blog. Then it swaps to the next schools and so on. This prompts the children to really develop their blog posts the week before their school is the focus – it works brilliantly.
For lots more detail and the full story, listen to the episode!
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