Starting with Student Blogs – Creating Learning Journals

Last week I wrote about the importance of  allowing time and opportunity for students to reflect upon their learning. It is this reflection that allows for deep rather than superficial learning to occur.

I reflect on my learning through blogging. The routine I’ve created of having to write an update every week forces me to stop for a moment, think and consider. The process of explaining my thoughts helps me synthesise my ideas and move forward. So it made sense for me to use blogging as a platform for my students to reflect.

On Monday I set each of them up with a blog using the NSW DEC ‘s Blog Ed. It’s not a great platform, but it was one I could start straight away with as the DEC issues an account to each student enrolled in public schools, and the permissions have already been taken care of. Their blogs are private, however they can log in at home if they wish to show their parents what they are doing. I asked each student to write about one thing they had learned this week. or about something they would like to learn.

Here are a few of their posts:

‘I  learnt that I need to take my time for writing.’ ‘

I learnt to Do some hand print art. I learnt how to retell a story.’

‘In maths groups some girls and I have been practising finding change. We did a video. It was very fun.’

The posts weren’t very detailed,  but they were fine for 7 and 8 year olds writing their first ever blogs. I loved the fact that each one was different. It gave me a good insight into what they valued in their learning this week.

Writing for many 7 and 8 year olds is still a challenging task. I realised quite quickly that this wasn’t really allowing them to reflect in the same way I can while writing – they become preoccupied with finding the keys on the keyboard, working out spelling etc. So I decided to try recording video diaries as well.

At the beginning of the week my maths students chose a learning goal related to our unit about money.  At the end of the week they had to make a video that would teach a concept to the other students.

Unfortunately I can’t show you their actual videos, but I’ve used the transcript of one and put it into Xtranormal to give you a sense of what they created.

My students loved making the videos. They also proved to themselves that they learned something new.We’ll be uploading the videos to their  blogs this week.

I’m just getting started with this so would love to hear from anyone who is using blogs with their students to reflect upon their learning. Please let me know your ideas in the comments section.

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2 thoughts on “Starting with Student Blogs – Creating Learning Journals

  1. Two great ideas coming together – students posting writing on a blog and students creating a learning journal. I’m more than ever convinced that the only way to become a good writer is to write regularly and to practice skills whilst finding one’s own ‘voice’ and using writing for self-expression. The keys to children and young people becoming capable and effective writers is motivation and enjoyment. Blogs as mini websites where writing, pictures and videos can be posted and shared are potentially hugely important in motivating children, most of whom prefer to write on a keyboard rather than on paper. A sense of audience and appreciation is also a huge motivator, even if the only audience is a teacher and/or a classroom assistant. This tells us that the role of the teacher should be that of an instigator, collaborator and final editor, as well as a publisher, blog manager, and an appreciative audience. There is no point in the teacher just being someone who ‘corrects’ writing and hands out marks and grades. On the other hand It’s essential that teachers show students how their writing can be improved – even if it’s just to add a sentence or two and eliminate typos and errors before posting and sharing. Sorry to go on about this but this is really exciting work you’re doing!

  2. Hi 3D Eye, thanks so much for commenting – and I don’t mind you going on. I’m glad that you find the work exciting!

    I’m pondering your comment about the teacher editing and eliminating typos before posting and sharing.

    At this stage I’ve chosen not to edit them, I might feel differently if they were to be viewed by a broader audience, but since they are currently only viewable by their classmates and myself, I chose not to. In fact, the enormity of that task was one of the things that had made me put student blogging into the “too hard basket” up until now.

    But then I saw this blog: http://classblogmeister.com/blog.php?blogger_id=272811&show=all
    which is on the wiki I linked to last week.

    It was all in the student’s own voice with spelling mistakes and typo’s included. There was something joyful and refreshing about it. As the blog continues, you start to see the spelling and typing improve. It actually documents the student’s development as a writer.

    I am going to ponder your comment some more though. I do agree that published work should be edited, and that it is part of our responsibility as teachers to teach students to reflect and improve on their work. I do all of that in other aspects of my writing program. I’m just not sure that this is the vehicle I want to use for that at this stage. I like how the unedited blogs really capture the students as they are in that moment.

    Perhaps after a few more weeks, once the students have become confident with the medium, we’ll start to have that discussion. We’ll look at what makes a good post, and begin to develop some best practices, including “have someone check your spelling”.

    Thanks for getting me thinking again!

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