Giving students a global audience

David Mitchell

David Mitchell is an award-winning former headteacher of two schools and now a freelance consultant who is possibly better known by his Twitter name, @DeputyMitchell. David introduced blogging at Heathfield Primary School, resulting in a dramatic impact on standards. Writing SATS level 5 scores at the end of Key Stage 2 rose from 9% to 60% in just 12 months with each child in Year 6 making on average double the expected progress for the last three years. In 2011, David founded QuadBlogging which has now seen over 500,000 pupils from 55 countries take part. David’s mission is to get as many teachers as possible using exciting and inspiring Web2.0 tools to engage learners of all ages.

Follow @DeputyMitchell

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Plenty of pupils love to write - why wouldn’t they? However, many of the UK’s schoolchildren have what David Mitchell, deputy head of Heathfield Primary School, aren’t getting anywhere near the audience that they should be.

As published in the September 2013 edition of our magazine.

After a grueling week with your wonderful Year 6 class surpassing their non-chronological reports, you think you have aced it! They have chosen their topic of choice, and it’s 10:50am on a Friday – it’s BIG writing time! The candle is burning… or more realistically, the interactive whiteboard is displaying the faint flicker of a candle flame. If you silence the class, you can hear the calming tones of Mozart tickling away at thought processes. It’s then, just as the children pick up their Big Writing pens that you utter those important words: “Don’t forget... consider your audience!”

However, do we ever pause to think of what is going through our students’ brains as they process what we have just said?

“If I’m lucky, this piece of writing will get marked!”

“If I do my very best, and Miss likes it, my writing might end upon the wall!”

“If I impress Miss, and I get sent to the head and she likes it, my writing might get shown in assembly!”

Even if all of this did happen, their audience at best will be a couple of hundred other children.

What if you could give your children an audience of millions? What effect might that have on your pupils? The days where students’ efforts of planning, thinking and writing end up in books only to be wheeled out of the writing tray once a week are numbered.

Web 2.0 epitomises the evolution of the world wide web from an online library of static pages to an interactive two-way environment. It is the experience that many of our pupils have of the internet whenever they are outside the school building, yet, despite it being around since 2006, many schools are not capitalising on it.

I first introduced blogging at my school in 2009 and this turned around the way pupils experienced writing. A blog is a website where you simply ‘post’ information on a particular topic to the public, but its real power is harnessed in the ability to share opinion via ‘comments’. Although pupils can log into a class blog and post whatever they want whenever they want, nothing appears on the class blog without the teacher approving it. Even comments have to be approved.

After introducing blogging to my Year 6 class, children began to fall in love with writing; so much so, some boys wrote over 100,000 words on their class blog in one year. Results for writing at Level 5 shot up from 9% to 60% in just 2 months (National Key Stage 2 SATs Tests 2010) with each child out of a cohort of 30 making double the expected points progress.

My pupils were not only getting a global audience for their writing, they were also receiving high-quality constructive feedback from other pupils, teachers and interested parties worldwide. We saw visits from famous authors including Michael Morpurgo, Pie Corbett, the German Ambassador to the UK and many more highly important and influential people.

I once asked a pupil of mine, “Why, after all these months of me harping on at you to start using capital letters and full stops do you start to use them after a comment from New Zealand?” And he replied, “It’s because you aren’t real, Mr. Mitchell! You’re a teacher; you’re paid to help me. Mr. Smith isn’t; he’s given up his spare time to leave that comment!” That’s the power of a simple comment from a ‘real’ person!

Running a class blog isn’t too difficult and neither is it too time consuming, but a class blog needs the teacher to be enthusiastic and committed to bringing an audience to their pupils. After the initial investment of time showing your pupils what blogging is all about, a successful class blog can be managed with little over 45 minutes per week. Once you see the effect this has on your pupils, however, I’ll challenge you not to get even more excited than them! Whether you want to change their behaviour and attitudes or enhance their progress and attainment, starting a class blog could be the most important thing you ever do for them.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"