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Blogging Report

I created this blogging report to share with my head teacher to give her a background about how and why I wanted to start a class blog in school.

Click here to view this article as available as a PDF.

What is a blog?

A blog, originally known as a web log, is a collection of posts or articles that are written and can be commented upon.

Where to set up a blog?

There are a number of providers that give excellent opportunities for class blogs such as Edublogs, Kidblog and Primaryblogger

Esafety

These blogging rules are examples of what can be written on the school blog:

Only use your first name when commenting – no surnames.

Relatives who leave comments are also asked to use their first name only or to post comments as “Reena’s Mum” or “Gary’s Grandfather”.

Keep safe – don’t reveal any personal information.

No text talk – write in full sentences and read your comments back carefully before submitting.

Be polite – don’t post anything that could hurt anyone.

Always show respect  – be positive if you are going comment and always remember that the blog is an extension of our school that the rest of the world is able to see.

All posts and comments are checked by school staff before they are approved.

The ‘Think you know’ [http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk] website is a widely popular site to explore tips for keeping children safe online

What it can be used for in a primary school setting? 

  • 100 Word Challenge (100WC) organised by retired head teacher Julia Skinner, is a weekly creative writing challenge for children under the age of 16. Inspired by weekly prompts which children respond to on their class blog, they are also encouraged to comment on the work of others. All children will receive a comment from some outside of their school, and work, if nominated, can be showcased on the 100WC blog for everyone to see.
  • Quadblogging set up by David Mitchell, this connects four class blogs together across the world. Each week all four class focus their attention on one blog; for example children can create task, ask questions for children to answer who could be in other cities, counties or sen countries.
  • Encourages independent thinking: when children are able to publish what they have an interest in they take ownership of the quality of their work.
  • Engage with wider community and parents
  • Hosts a wide range of media ranging from video, photo’s and audio (our class recording of BFG playscripts) thats been captured in class. Also enabling the ability to embed many web applications such as padlet (online post-it wall) it can provide a platform to evidence and reflect upon children’s own and peers work allowing learning to occur outside the boundaries of a classroom when shared with a global audience.
  • When Coveritlive [https://wwwssl.coveritlive.com] is embedded in a blog it allows a multitude of people (through a given password) to have a continuous stream of conversation, also known as live blogging. At the Cheltenham Literacy Festival (6.10.13) Pie Corbett and David Mitchell showcased an example of how it can be used to stimulate storytelling [http://6q2013.russellscottblogs.net/2013/10/06/coveritlive-with-deputy-mitchell-and-pie-corbett/]. It allows immediate feedback [Pie Corbett: Nice idea Tanvir – but I’m not sure about ‘began to hear’ – would Will heard a howl? Try adding in an adjective to describe the howl] and the ability to share and develop each others ideas.
  • By using QR codes (an enhanced barcode that when scanned can show text or redirect you to a webpage or blog post in this instance), multimedia work such as videos and animations can be recorded in children’s books.http://deputymitchell.com/4d-books-linking-analogue-to-digital/

Evidence

At Heathfield Primary School, in Bolton, deputy head David Mitchell began a journey with the pupils in his school using blogging as a vehicle for improving literacy. Literacy had long been a significant issue at the school, partially with boys. Upon setting up the blog, within seven months, the Year 6 blog had received in excess of 100,000 hits and 1,500 comments. In the previous year, SAT results saw 9% of pupils achieving Level 5 in writing tests. Following the blogging project, 60% achieved Level 5. Each child, on average, made 6.6 points  progress in the 12 months between September 2009 and July 2010. In the next academic year, each child made an average 6.0 points progress.

Ensure that…where possible, tasks, audiences and purposes [are used] that engage pupils with the world beyond the classroom.

Ofsted, Moving English Forward

(2012): 7

Sustainability

Primarily in its beginning blogging will heavily rely on the initiation and enthusiasm of the teacher. This will be particular true for Key Stage One, though you only have to look through the vast range of blogs in primary school to

Simon Mcloughlin described how children were once again reignited with blogging when they held a Skype session with Julia Skinner who gave feedback and provide inspiration for writing. [http://simcloughlin.com/skype-in-my-classroom/]

Example class blogs

These two sites hold a comprehensive list of class blogs:

http://www.literacyshed.com/uk-blogs.html  From England and around the world

http://blogmap.co.uk   Only primary school in the United Kingdom.

An excellent example of class blogs from EYFS to Year 6: http://davyhulmeyear6.primaryblogger.co.uk

Several years ago these year 4 blogs are from Oliver Quinlan (a lecturer now working for NESTA):

http://class40q.wordpress.com

http://4oqblog.wordpress.com

http://4ch10.wordpress.com

These are excellent examples of how blogs can be a multimedia platform for animation and for showing dance through the medium of video [http://4ch10.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/inspiring-talent/]

Ian Addison [author of perfect ICT lesson]

His old school: http://stjohnsblogs.co.uk/class8/

http://ridersblogs.co.uk/4bl/

http://ridersblogs.co.uk/4a/

Robin Hood Primary School, Borhmingham

Nursery: http://nurseryblog13.robinhoodblogs.co.uk

Reception: http://receptionblog13.robinhoodblogs.co.uk

Year 1: http://yearone2013.wordpress.com

Year 2: http://yeartwo2013.wordpress.com

Year 3: http://3jc2013.wordpress.com and http://3jh2013.wordpress.com

Year 4: http://4kw2013.wordpress.com and http://4rc2013.wordpress.com

Year 5: http://5eb2013.wordpress.com and http://5hf2013.wordpress.com

Year 6: http://6lo2013.wordpress.com and http://6lc2013.wordpress.com

Regular blogging provides pupils with speedy feedback from their peers and from a global audience about their thoughts and work…

The school’s ‘linking school project’ maintains close links with a school in inner-city Bradford so pupils acquire meaningful understanding of diversity. This is magnified through the schools ‘quadblogging’ and its link to Jamacia…

Pupils know very well how to keep themselves safe. They are clear about how important it is to use the internet carefully as well as other new technologies.

Ofsted, Haworth Primary School: Inspection

Report No. 377559 (2012): 6

 

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Comic strips in Literacy

Recently in year 4 we completed a play script unit, beginning looking at ‘The Golden Goose’ loosely related to our Ancient Egypt topic. To what was a dry, poorly written play script it allowed children to discus, up level and perform a play script understanding it’s purpose and structure. We swiftly moved onto the BFG, comparing prose to a play script. Making differences visible by highlighting speech, direction, character names and description and creating a shared success criteria. I read the beginning of the BFG over some music — to add to the tension and dramatisation of the story, enabling children to empathise with the characters.

The children orally rehearsed a conservation between the two protagonists. Once modelled, we used a blank comic strips for children to infer and deduce a conservation. In breaking down the barriers, allowing children to orally rehearse and work in pairs, enabled children to focus on the quality of dialogue. Furthermore, the children were challenged to mirror the syntax, and grammatical style of the BFG in their writing. Using comic strips allowed children to have the creative freedom necessary in writing to explore dialogue in a clear and concise format. The following week, we recorded all of the children’s play scripts adding in sound effects to add to our dramatisation. Children were also energised that this would be shared with an audience through the class blog (the children would love a comment on our new blog!)


 

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Language of the internet

The following extract is from an assignment I wrote about English and Communication technology, focussing on Instant Messaging [IM]. Though aspects seem outdated it has some underlying points about I believe the internet, and the social realm should not be kept separate from what we perceive as the traditional forms of literact, ie. paper and pen.

English and Communication Technology.

In the last few decades the Internet has become a technological and a social phenomenon. It has become a “fact of life, a way of being in the world, a producer of social subjects that, find it unremarkable, so unremarkable that it seems ‘everybody uses it.’” (Lewis & Fabos. 2005:470) It has allowed new social access, an instant connection to friends through a whole host of digital literacy’s. These new literacy’s have inevitably influenced the English Language.

Writing is socially mediated; in instant messaging, the social aspects are clearly apparent. Indeed, “the maintenance of social relationships has been found to be a central function of online communication networks” (Lewis & Fabos. 2005:475) for sustaining close friendships as well as establishing and maintaining casual ties. Compared to face-to-face conversation, in which one can passively participate by being present, Lewis and Fabos (2005) indicate that with online communication, through instant messaging, the participants must be active in order to receive social benefits. Being able to shift voices and identities, between many instant messaging conversations for many audiences, is needed in order to be a proficient user. Each conversation needs different tones, sympathetic for a close friend or a flirtatious friend to another. Although face-to-face talk can be a performance, “the need to fluidly shift performances from audience to audience is unique to the dyadic yet nearly simultaneous nature of IM.” (Lewis & Fabos. 2005:494)

 The Language of the Internet

In the mid 1970s, the technology became publically available, which enabled numerous more networks to be established. In the late 1980s this technology was beginning to be used in other countries, “eventually allowing computers in different parts of the world to communicate directly with one another.” (Goodman & Graddol.1997:107) It was not until the mid 1990’s when Local Area Networks (LANs) were introduced and connected to national networks, it became possible to “establish a direct connection to another person’s personal commuter on the other side of the world.” (Goodman & Graddol.1997:107)

Crystal (2001) created the term ‘netspeak’ and defined it as a type of language “displaying features that are unique to the internet, […] arising out of its character as a medium which is electronic, global and interactive.’ (Crystal. 2001: 18) ‘Netspeak’ is divided into sub-varieties that are related to different communication modes on the Internet. These include, the “language of e-mails” which comprises “functionally distinct elements” that are “central for the identification of e-mail as a linguistic variety,” such as headers, signatures, greetings. (Crystal. 2001: 94, 122) In addition to “the language of chat rooms” with its “highly colloquial constructions and non-standard usages, that characterize this mode of communication. (Crystal. 2001: 148, 165). However Androutsopoulos (2006) suggests that distinguishing there being a ‘language of e-mail’ cannot be entirely accurate; “the vast diversity of settings and purposes of e-mail use outweigh any common linguistic features.” The diverse purposes of e-mail and instant messaging range from political talk, to pray sessions, to friendship talk; thus the linguistic patterns go beyond whatever can be easily classed as a typical linguistic style. Though it may be more accurate to study the linguistic variation in the different social interaction on the Internet.

Digital literacy is multimodal. There is a wide variety of new communication technology; mobile SMS messaging; social networking site, such as Facebook, and Bebo; email; discussion forums and chat-rooms. These new genre’s bring along a new set of literacy skills that are needed to be able to read and write across these different modes. Literacy has been always multimodal, relying on visual and aural cues at the very least, but now literacy “rely on an increasingly more complex range of modalities.” (Lewis & Fabos. 2005:475) These appear to be more complicated; there is writing alongside images, or writing itself displayed graphically as an image, requiring a set of semiotic skills that are not commonplace in the reading repertoire in today’s schools. However, theses new modes have appeared to become linguistically less complex. There are fewer embedded clauses, “while the visual elements are becoming more [complex], shifting the focus from linguistic features to elements of design.” (Lewis & Fabos. 2005:475) Even linguistically, instant messaging is “multimodal at its core in that it blurs the distinction between speech and writing.”(Lewis & Fabos. 2005:475) With this comes new literacy practices; it requires the reader to read across modes as being a central skill, rather than it merely being a peripheral skill.

Labels

Why do we label children?

Labels for Art vs Craft Show

  •  Yes there are some who have difficulty articulating their thoughts into a coherent, cohesive eligible script. I have dyslexic ‘tendencies’ but I was never given the label as a child because I wasn’t on the spectrum. Surely teachers should know each child’s strengths and weaknesses androids appropriate support and guidance ‘personalised’ for them, reflecting and adapting their techniques to make sure the child is overcoming their ‘difficulties’. Is a label needed?
  • Yes there are those who have to learn an additional language to effectively converse with their peers. But it doesn’t stop children articulating their thoughts. Yet the danger arises when teachers put EAL children in bottom sets in a language poor environment which hinders their progression. I wish I was able to speak a second language.
  • SEN. Needless to say even the word creates a prejudice with their peers and needless to say some teachers and parent.
  • Even books band. Parents label how well their child is doing and compare it to others.

And this is not restricted to the boundaries of the classroom. Labels are given in all walks of life, to categorise and judge people. Everyone is an individual; yet we catgorize children with giving them labels. [Ones child’s dyslexia will be different to another child’s dyslexia, yet we continually want to catagorize them as the same even though approaches to help them may be vastly different.] personalised children’s learning programmes will surely address these obstacles even though they may not have a label.

Education should bring to light the ideal of the individual.

(J.P Richter)

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The psychology effect behind test scores

I apologise now for the long winded nature, but in some ways this has been boiling inside me for a while and putting it in words has helped clear my mind.

The long, slow walk out of the tunnel into the olympic stadium, with millions of supporters watching you perform, analysing your every move is often nothing compared to the exceedingly high expectations give yourself to perform at the highest of levels in sport. The next few minuetes or seconds could make or break your career. Or as often the case, that running heat is completely insignificant in the grand scheme of events; I often feel overwhelming need to perform and achieve in exams, but often they are just a stepping stone to the next path.

My long walk across my primary school hall towards my teacher, awaiting my year six sats tests is something that is still vivid in my memory.  At the time I was optimistic considering I walked out of my English writing test, but after some gentle encouragement I returned to writing a letter to my local football team. I digress, but the emotion of the moment still lives with me, which was quickly shunned by head teacher telling me to “quieten down.”

Fast forward several years and the short walk across the road from my house to comprehensive school quite literary felt an eternity. I knew I performed well, but I never knew how well. It felt like it could be a career defining moment, but alas, though my results were some of the best in the year, in the grand scheme of events they mean absolutely nothing. Just another stepping stone to get into the next path of my career.

Fast forward again two years and Alevel results are just another hurdle to get into university. A hurdle in which my English teacher said with my predicted grades I could apply for pratically anything. There were no expectations for Alevel, the grades I recieved were expected and yet in some ways dissapointing. Alevels were intense, especially with all the coursework involved in Fine Art, Music and English Literature. Art was the only subject I had genuine natural ability in, the other two I worked solidly in to achieve, often failing miserable in my expectations of my self before achieving on par with my peers.

Yet again, these series of letters I received were just another stepping stone to University. But these numbers that are associated to examinations often mean a lot to the person who receive them. Up till now, letters were used to put a label across a range of result. Whereas University began the whole new concept of percentages; in turn creating a more accurate interpretation of ones achievement on an assessed essay than merely a letter. Until you get to your degree classification…

As a very intelligent friend of mine who studied International Relations and Politics put publicly after receiving his degree classification, ‘2:1 standard like everyone else. Decent though’, raises the conundrum with formative assessment, is it really a true representation of someones ability. This person in question recieved a first in his dissertation; worked alongside a senior Liberal Democrat politician, and has been published in several political journals. Yet the numbers ‘2:1’ does not show this, and shows much more to him and his ability than the numbers 2:1.

Society demands gaining degrees to enter certain fields of work. More and more people I know are turning to masters, not because they want a ‘head start’ in their proffession, but because they do not want to leave university. Will jobs really look at their degree classification if they are doing a masters, especially when doing something like graphic design, where a portfolio is a more accurate representation of someone’s ability than a degree. And as Kevin McLaughlin points out in regard to teaching ‘Would doing a Masters help make a teacher be a better teacher?’ But people still want good grades! They are a letter or number to class you and compare you against your peers, yet can cause people to be passionate about, and often disappointed with themselves.

Now for a cultural change, or as Monty Pithon puts it, now for something completely different.

Recently I was privileged to go to America in New York State and visit several schools. There were many stark contrasts in their education system compared to the United Kingdom, but one aspect that shocked me was their use of formative assessment. Not exactly their use of it, but the use of percentages. Percentages that are detrimental to assessing, and comparing a child’s ability through tests across all subjects. Initial I was taken aback, and thought I would really not like this method if I was in school. Below eighty percent was seen as under performing, whether this was a small twenty question maths test assessing their knowledge of the previous week maths work, or completing accelerate reading tests.

Michael Dix wrote an article on the guardian the other day titled ‘don’t get seduced by the data’ and wrote:

“Whatever it is, I am slightly reassured that from time to time a small voice inside interrupts my impassioned analyses and urges me to caution staff and governors not to get too hung up on the data because of its unreliable nature”

 Though this article was on about data in schools, and not only comparing test schools in England, I felt the advice “not to get too hung up on data” really hit home to me. Even though I do put huge pressure on myself, and have the ability to achieve, I get disappointed over receiving a number or letter for a piece of work I do when I know I can do better. Especially since my indicative marks in the last two years of university have exceeded my grades I now receive that count towards my degree classification. And it is this knowledge to not get ‘too hung up’ that will spur me to not to put pressure on my children in my class. They will hopefully all achieve in the own rights, and yes exams are a part of modern society, but they shouldn’t been seen as be all and end all of life. Some of the greatest people in society do not have degrees, and they are some of the pioneers of the modern age.

Having said that, the apparent pressure put on American children in receiving percentage grades does have to work, since both education systems in America and England have produced some of the greatest minds of the last century. Yet as both countries are going through national curriculum changes, I wonder what new pressures with be put on children to perform, especially since the media and government seem to be content driven and hooked on data analysis.

Its not looking good

Kevin McLaughlin – Our new national curriculum filling heads with knowledge for testing

Michael Rosen’s responses to the English Curriculum – Expert Panel team resignations, Four false models in one primary English curriculumWhat Gove wants, Gove getsDraft or Daft English Curriculum?

Conrad Wolfram’s response to the Maths Curriculum – Should long division be the pinnacle of primary Maths education?

The Guardian – Michael Gove’s curriculum attacked by expert who advised him.

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#ukedchat Session 89 – What should be taught to the next generation of trainee teachers?

This was my first time hosting the #ukedchat on twitter and it was an exciting and surprisingly stress free experience (so long as you have a surplus of tea and biscuits).

Session Summary:

The early stages of this discussion began with discussing ‘what do the current crop of teachers need to do well?’  This not only linked to just trainee teachers but evolved into a discussion about the key characteristics of all teachers. Some of the points raised were:

  • Work/life balance
  • Resilience
  • Positive behavior management / Classroom Management
  • Pedagogy
  • Adaptable
  • Innovative
  • Creative to deal with an ever changing world
  • Reflective in practice
  • Communicate with parents

From this initial bombardment of ideas of what a good teacher should be, the conversion moved towards debating some of these issues and looking at them analytically. But one of the most important pieces of advice which can be taken away from this is the ability to take risks. In having the time to make mistakes, one can learn; but only through the concept of having a  good support system can this take place. Another area of that was discussed was the concept of assessment. Some users pointed out that many Newly Qualified Teacher (NQTs) have no knowledge of assessment, such as APP. It was suggested at university different examples should be addressed and practiced so a trainee teacher and a NQT are well prepared in an essential element of teaching. But is this possible with continual education reform?

Subject knowledge verse pedagogy created a big debate about what trainee teachers should be taught. Essentially, some of the questions raised were: how do we prioritize between all subjects when training time is limited? And the facts are so easily available in the 21st Century, so should be taught how to facilitate rather than deliver content?

Beyond the course, there were many suggestions about what trainee teachers do for continual professional development. Twitter was mentioned as an invaluable tool, a very relevant comment on such a topic as this! And for trainee teachers to take as many opportunities to get involved, both in and out of the university and school. For trainee teachers it is about taking a responsibility to engage with professional discourse at university and in school, you need to have a desire to want to learn and develop.

Many of the discussions tonight are relevant for new, old and trainee teachers. Hope you all enjoyed the discussion as much as I had!

NOTABLE TWEETS FROM THE SESSION:

@ICTmagic New (& old) teachers must realise that learning happens everywhere. Jump on opportunities. Follow their interests & be curious. #ukedchat

@MrsGrealis People underestimate how hard it is for an NQT to deal with someone 20 years older than them. #ukedchat

@alexgingell  Lots of innovative students like you and @amyparkinbed who I was reading about in @tesPrimary today!

@nickotkdIV #ukedchat time to make mistakes (should carry on through out profession. experiementing with teaching!

@HilaryNunns The next generation will understand the 21st century students! Pedagogy and classroom management #ukedchat

@bramleyapplecc To know what pedagogy underpins their style, what theoretical models challenge and inspires them! To know who they are! #ukedchat

@DKeano1985 To embrace that times are changing and innovation is required #ukedchat

@super_sixfive #ukedchat my question what should/could the new trainee teachers teach me! They always bring new ideas and ways of doing things

@PCampbell91 #ukedchat Creativity, innovation, failure, success, critical, flexible, relevant, sustainable, networking, cross sector, collaborative.

@syded06 Too much educational theory not enough application #ukedchat

@raisechildrens #ukedchat I also think students should teach in a variety of contexts, inner city, leafy lane, SEN, as well as primary/secondary.

@Ramsay71 Allow student teachers to take risks, experiment even if link tutor does not feel comfortable #ukedchat” #EPS2UOGThemeWeek

@MariamAlhashmi New teachers need to start every school day by reminding themselves: “”mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn”” #ukedchat

@trainieteacher #ukedchat It’s not just about what tt’s need to be taught. They need to take responsibility for their own learning. It’s not ok to be average.

@mooshtang I think a lot of the comments I’ve read tonight apply to all teachers, not just new ones #ukedchat”

@ethinking #ukedchat students need to know there are no absolute right agendas – its all shades of grey driven by ideologies & politics

TWEET OF THE WEEK:

@DeputyMitchell The #Feb29th blog received over 12,000 posts with upwards of 400,000 hits from 120 countries and 3000 comments feb29th.net #success


Animation #eict350

Stop time animation created in less than an hour

How can animation be used in school?

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