Last week I spent a day and a half at Marfleet Primary with a Y5/6 class and the Deputy Headteacher. The purpose of the visit was to introduce blogs to the pupils and staff with a view to this having a positive impact on writing.
Well, we did the usual chat about eSafety and what should and shouldn’t be put in a blog and then set to getting the settings right so that the pupils had an audience, but the blogs weren’t freely available on the web: it’s learning has a setting that allows blogs to be viewed only to other it’s learning users, but I’m sure other LPs have a similar level of control.
Once done, we set about writing out 1st blog. The pupils’ temptation was to use the emoticon/smiley faces with reckless abandon, so to get this out of the system, the deputy suggested the pupils write a story using the emoticons where appropriate. This in itself proved a challenge and there are quite a few to choose from, but often not the one the pupils wanted.
They managed this really well and we then showed the class how they could view someone else’s blog and comment on it, just as they would do with a literacy partner in a book.
I haven’t got a list of all the pupil names, but Amber’s is one that stood out not only for the story and use of emoticons, but for some of the feedback it generated from other pupils.
Following on from the blog, the TA had requested someting ‘ whizzy, but not PowerPoint’. After a chat with the deputy and the class, we decided to try something I’d not done with pupils before and that was to use the Portfolio option in it’s. (Again, I’m sure other LPs have a similar facility). We took a brief look at how to add links and images into the Portfolio, how to keep it private or publish it to the web and varous discussions about how research and creating a portfolio isn’t about mass ‘copy and paste’, etc, etc.
I only had a brief session with the pupils but the initial response from them was that working online was exciting, different and motivating. Some pupils had gone home and worked on their blog overnight, including one who went to the library to continue her work and many more said they liked the idea of being able to continue their work outside school.
In it’s learning, the blog and ePortfolio act as one online area for the pupils and they are able to have some public and some private portfolios if they choose. It’s a little early to judge on the porfolios as yet, but the link to Amber’s ePortfolio shows how the blog and the portfolio look when they are published on the web. Hopefully over the year, we’ll be able to see Amber’s Plants portfolio develop and others added.
All told, I had a very pleasant day and a half at Marfleet with enthusiastic staff and pupils and hope that they can continue to use their blogs and portfolios as they’ve made a great start.