At the start of this academic year, we launched blogging across my whole school. We have a WordPress MU installation which is hosted by Creative Blogs and every class from Nursery to Year 6 has a blog. You can view my class blog at http://class5.htrblogs.net. I’ve blogged with classes before and know the benefits first-hand. I’ve used it for two years whilst teaching in KS1 and I also wrote my MA thesis about the ways blogging promotes New Literacy Studies.
As I have moved to teaching upper KS2, I wanted to build on the previous work and embed the blog into the ethos of the classroom. I have also been looking for new ways to inspire and reward learning, so have been following the discussions on Twitter about Open Badges. I have always liked the idea of badges (after using Foursquare and GetGlue) and have mulled over the idea of how Open Badges might look in my classroom. All of my thinking led me to ways it can be embedded in the blog (online) and in the classroom (offline).
When I started my blog three years and 657 posts ago, I wasn’t sure where to take it. I knew I wanted to connect with other tech teachers so I used that as the theme. Now, thanks to the 491,000+ people who have visited, I know much more about the ‘why’. It’s about getting to know kindred souls, but there is so much more I’ve gotten from blogging. Like these:
We bloggers divide ourselves into two categories: 1) those who write short, under-1000-word posts and 2) those who write in-depth, lengthy articles. I’ve chosen the former. I like pithy ideas that my readers can consume in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. As a result, I’ve learned to be frugal with my words. I choose verbiage that conveys more than one-word’s-worth of information and I leave tangential issues for another post. Because I realise readers are consuming on the run, I make sure to be clear–no misplaced pronouns or fuzzy concepts like ‘thing’ or ‘something’.
It is widely recognised that showcasing the work of students, and giving them an online audience, is a brilliant way of empowering students. Pete Jones’ call to arms in his post “Judging a book by its cover: Ideas and thoughts on how learning is displayed in schools“, powerfully makes the case for how he would like work to be shown around his school. Showcasing work helps improve students' confidence, and makes them work harder to refine their work as high-quality as possible, given they are going to have a wider audience. Some fantastic examples of students' work showcased online can be seen at High Tech High, San Diego, CA in this post by @JamiePortman. The way that they showcase their students' work, and the work that is on display, is phenomenal. How can we translate that to the display of work made by students in ICT lessons?
ICT is a subject where it is particularly difficult to put work on the walls without printing it off. This is fine if it is static work, such as a graphical design, a magazine cover, or a piece of writing. However, problems occur when you’re dealing with interactive work - videos, animations, websites, games, etc. How do you showcase these things in a clear and visible light? One way is through the procurement of plasma screens around your department and school - this is a fantastic idea and many schools do this. However, when you regularly want to showcase the work of hundreds of students, schools cannot afford to purchase so many screens to facilitate this. So how do you make it work?