Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blogging with 5-7year olds

The positive effect of blogging on writing has been documented by Deputy Mitchell, who has inspired a multitude of teachers across the world to join in with projects such as quadblogging (my class do it!) and Feb29th (I contributed 'Accidental children!') . Knowing that you have an audience can have a powerful effect on writing. I know that from experience. A request from someone unknown can lead to me taking time to write a post or add content to any number of blogs that I have.

A short blogging history

In  2006 I had a talented young lady in my class who was lucky enough to go off travelling to Thailand and Australia with her family (during school time). She blogged about her travels, showing us many sights and making us feel like we were on a journey with her*. This got me thinking about our children's journeys at school and inspired me to start a class blog to showcase the work going on, to let our wider community join in our journey. We had an audience at this point, but very few comments. I'm also slightly ashamed to say that I wrote most of the content in the early days as we were a little unsure of esafety considerations. My children had their own blogs, but these were locked away safely in our VLE, so they only really had their peers and me for an audience.

Space Transportation and Restoration Specialists - one of my first mantles on  one of my first blog posts. 

 In some ways the most successful school blogs were from our residential trips as they kept the parents informed of our antics. We receive plenty of comments from parents on these blogs and they expect lots of news! This should become even easier in the future as our children can blog themselves using iphones and ipads. Our blogs have evolved greatly since the early days and for the past few years, since the 'loss' of our VLE, I have incorporated a workbook into them, to support children's learning@home.

Our children have also become increasingly involved with the blogging process and our year 5/4 and 4/3 children have their own kidsblog and frequently participate in writing online via Livewriting and Julia Skinner's  fabulous 100 word and 5 sentence challenges. These online activities not only inspire creative writing, but give children that all important audience for their writing. How nice for my children to have their posts featured in Julia's new blog dipping venture too - another global audience!

Blogging on our ipads

The introduction of ipads at our school has made the blogging process so much easier. The four ipads that I have in class are set up with the blogger app so that my children can blog when they like. It has made the process so much easier and more flexible than it ever has been. I don't change their work, though I have occasionally made suggestions for improvements. My children take the ipads outside and blog, which in turn is great AFL evidence for me. Because they were adding content to our class blog, it seemed to be getting too 'hefty' so I decided to set up a separate blog for my children and my colleague did the same for our parallel class. This is their work. They are often writing for pleasure and request to blog about things, though sometimes I ask if anyone would like to take the ipad into assembly etc if I want a record of special events.

An infant ipad expert!

Although our parents still seem a little shy about commenting, we know they look because they tell us in their child's learning@home journal. They are proud of what their children are doing. One family were so inspired that Xanthe (aged 5) started her own blog at home! This can only be having a positive impact on how my children see themselves as writers.

My digital leaders use the ipads to blog too. Their posts are like mine - more of a reflective diary. They will no doubt prove useful for future digital leaders, who I am guessing will want to go one better! They also do a great job as commentators on the aforementioned 5 sentence challenge and understand the value of thoughtful comments and impact on the writer.

So would I recommend blogging in school? Most definitely! Remember to gain consent from parents, devise some blogging rules / etiquette and find the right blogging resource that works well for you. There are plenty out there, but my favourites (for ease of use and free tools) are:

  • Blogger - perfect for ipads
  • Wordpress
  • Posterous
  • Weebly
  • Kidsblogs

If you need inspiration, @RedgieRob has kindly put together a shed full of class blogs for you! The winning blogs in the 2012 edublog awards may prove useful too. 

*We used this idea when seven of us from school went to India to visit children's homes that we sponsored

Seven go to India

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