I mentioned in my previous postthat I was surprised at the unexpected lengthy pieces of writing on the children’s Glow blogs and wikis. I’ve been using the same strategy that I adopted previously when I carried out a case study for my Chartered Teacher studies – my dissertation has the details, and I’ve had a closer look to see if I can come up with a formula (I’ve looked at some of the professional reading that helped to convey my thoughts at the time).
Three ingredients jump out:
1. Content – The freedom to choose
Lafferty (2004): “To develop an online community requires a more student-centred approach with the tutor transforming into a facilitator from ’sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side.”
Marsh (2007) proposed that by enabling children to create blogs based on their own interest, valuable learning opportunities might be developed
Buckingham (2008) argues that through using the new media, young people are learning primarily by means of discovery, experimentation, and play, rather than by following external instructions and directions
Stern (2007) also found that in the absence of audible or visual cues, young people often feel less inhibited, a sensation heightened by the experience of crafting messages in front of a computer screen, frequently in the privacy of their own room or other personal space. She claims that authors possess more control over the impressions they give than they do in offline spaces, since they make all the decisions about what to reveal, omit, embellish, or underplay.
Wenger states that the school is not the privileged locus of learning. It is not a self-contained, closed world in which students acquire knowledge to be applied outside, but a part of a broader learning system. The class is not the primary learning event. It is life itself that is the main learning event.
2. Comments – Creating a sense of audience
Stern (2007) argues that the main audience for their blogs was the authors themselves and that they were self reflecting as they tested out different versions of their current and possible identities. She also maintains, however, that they were continually testing out other audiences too, and that they were hungry for peer approval
Davis and merchant (2006) believe that the perception of an actual or imagined audience prompts us to think about what we wish to show ……… an audience to whom one is presenting a particular narrative of the self
3. Sharing – New posts shared offline (in class), tends to influence other – sometimes typically reluctant – writers to add posts to their own blogs .
Godwin-Jones (2003) explains that blogs and wikis offer powerful opportunities for online collaboration for learners. He states that the encouragement of peer to peer networking and buddy learning is central to a constructivist learning approach,
Dissertation quote – Sharing the stories that the children wrote on their wikis provided ideal opportunities for formal learning to occur. The stories were written at home, usually in instalments. It is clear that the children often went home and improved parts of their stories after having heard them read aloud in class.
Owen et al, 2006 believe that there is significant potential for the development of new approaches to education. There are changes in our understanding of practices of creativity and innovation – from the idea of the isolated individual ‘genius’ to the concept of ‘communities of practice’, where reflection and feedback are important collaborative processes.
But there’s a fourth ingredient that came in to play during the case study period and that was the importance of ‘Role Models’. At the time I was interested in gender differences and I noted that my class were very aware that some of the The AllStars girl bloggers seemed very skilled writers. This encouraged the girls in my own class to improve the quality and quantity of their posts. The boys, on the other hand, had no such role models. The AllStars teacher Kim P contacted me at the time because she was aware of the same gender differences:
“Girls seem more word oriented evidenced by their blogging stories, commentaries etc; whereas boys tend to prefer visual (and less text oriented) ways of expressing themselves. Maybe boys prefer to talk and show how to use an application, rather than using application for personal reasons.”
This time around the gender balance has changed, though. It’s the boys who tend to write more on their blogs and wikis – and the Role Models are in our own class 🙂
Kian started this storyas a blog post and it’s now 6000 words long. He’s been continuing it on a Word document and it’s being saved on a memory stick until it’s finished (we’ve had a lot of discussions about copyright and I suspect he’s protecting the idea until it’s published).
Jack has been writing a hilarious story on his wiki. It shocked me at first, but I can’t wait to read more. What do you think? Jack’s Story
Now more reluctant writers are beginning to add lengthy posts. Four stand out for me:
Sean wrote a great account of his first experience at a football match. I don’t think he’d have been this inspired in class. It’s here
I’m impressed that Ryan was motivated to write this post in his own time.
Dylan’s post made me smile and I want to know more about his knowledge of FalkirkBus Routes.
I’ve been going on a lot about how the class are using their Glow Blogs. For example, at the TeachMeet at this years Scottish Learning Festivalmy presentation focussed on them. I spoke about them again at the more recent Falkirk TeachMeet …. and I’m constantly mentioning them on twitter (the examples below are copied and pasted from my twitter account and were added there as I discovered them appearing on the top of the list of new Falkirk posts
It’s also great to see that some children who don’t normally enjoy writing in class are beginning to voluntarily write posts on their blogs from home. After receiving some encouraging comments (thanks to my ‘twitter’ colleagues!), they’re writing follow-up posts, too. The children love to have their posts read out in class and often the first thing they say in class is, “I’ve written a new post. Can we read it out to everyone?”
And there was the incidence when Lewis very quietly asked me to read out his latest blog post. No-one in class knew about his gran, and I think he was glad that he was able to mention it via his blog post (he whispered that his mum had said it was ok to share it)
“I have a gran called Ann and she was in strathcarron hospice with cancer and she had allot of medicine. She was in strathcarron hospice for four weeks but at the weekend she died on Saturday night. Her funeral is on Thursday and I was sad when she died and I am going to miss her very much.”
I was a bit worried when I began using Glow blogs, and before I introduced them to the class I wrote a Wish List post. One of my main concerns was that the children would be frustrated that they couldn’t easily embed slideshows, etc. in to their posts. I think that it does irritate them a bit, but what has happened is that they’ve had to concentrate on the written word. This has led to some unexpected lengthy pieces of written work that we’ve been able to share in class (and subtly learn from?).
Recently, though, there has been a turn of events. This came about as a result of writing letters to the local Bookbinders Tom Valentine’s in Larbert. The class wondered if they could be shown what’s involved in turning a story they’d written into an actual book. There was great excitement on Thursday when a reply came from the Bookbinders saying that they would visit us and look at some of our stories. The reply also included the children’s letters in a beautiful leather covered book with gold lettering (it’s at school but I’ll take a picture soon and include it here). Valentines are going to bring along some of the equipment used when binding books before they’re published.
The class have already begun planning the stories they want (hope!) to be published. Some want to write individual stories and others want to work in a small group – but what concerns them is how they’ll access stories at home that have been begun in class .. and vice versa. We discussed using Microsoft Word and saving the stories on to memory sticks – but none of the children have one. Another option is to write on their Glow blogs and save the entries as a Draft post.
It was at that point that I had the idea of setting up a wiki for each of them. They were set up in a hurry on Friday – I’ve used them previously with classes so it didn’t take long! I only had a few minutes to ‘sell’ the advantages of having a wiki and to describe how to access it and use the various features.
What’s even more great is that he seems to have sussed out how he’ll use Glow blogs and his new wiki (another step towards an ePortfolio?)
Hi everyone! Welcome to my wikispace. I am going to use this for a lot of things. The main reasons are to have fun and to write my stories on. To view the stories I am going to write you will have to go on my stories page. I have a glow blog which is awesome so I think this will be awesome! I am looking forward to writing on this. I don’t really know what to write, so see you! Remember to look at all my pages daily!
I’m looking forward to sharing how he’s used his wiki in class tomorrow 🙂
Three primary 6 stage children from Nethermains visited Carronshore just before the Easter break. They wanted to know how to add a Voki and Photopeach slideshow to their new eportfolios. The picture here shows them concentrating as their ‘peer mentors’ demonstrated how to use the websites and then embed the completed efforts into their eportfolio. The class teacher had brought them along to see this for themselves. I’d already visited their school with a small group of Carronshore children to introduce them to the concept of eportfolios.
On both occasions I was struck by the genuine feeling of willingness to share and to listen (I think this picture and the ones below illustrate this?)
Here’s a picture taken when the Primary 6s from Carronshore explained the process involved when adding a voki to an eportfolios home page. I can’t remember which one was was displayed on the screen, but I think it was Jaimey’s .
The Nethermains group only had an hour with us, so it was a bit of a rush to help them to create their voki character and upload a personalised message to the site before embedding it into their new eportfolio.
These eportfolios are very much a ‘work in progress’ and won’t come to much without a lot of input from all involved. I know that when I return to class in August, the school management team will give me the freedom to set up an eportfolio experiment with my own class …. and this secondment has given me the opportunity to play around with the potential of reaching out to others in the authority.
On reflection, setting up these eportfolios is the result of a journey that started with a class blog – which then led to me giving children in my class their own online spaces (and voices) .
I hope I’ll be adding some more to ‘The Story of the Carronshore Blog’ soon …..
I’ve been writing …. and tweeting …… and talking for a while now about ePortfolios!
I initially set them up for a few primary 6 stage children at Carronshore. Since then these children have helped some Primary 6s at Nethermains to set up one, too. The Nethermains group and their teacher are coming along to Carronshore tomorrow so that they can find out how easy it is to embed aVoki and Photopeach slideshow into their ePortfolio.
I’ve also been sharing the idea with the teachers from the Art Department at the local High School and I’ve helped a small group of 4th year students to begin working on their own ePortfolio.
When I mention this to others in my own Local Authority – and to others outwith the Authority – the first question I’m typically asked is : “So … what is an ePortfolio?”
I find the answer to this question difficult. I think it’s because when I first heard about the idea, I was so attracted to it that I began reading any available relevant literature. This led me to writing a blog post about what I understood about the concept … but I can’t regurgitate all the bullet points in that that post every time someone asks me to explain in a few sentences what I mean by an ePortfolio, so I’ve tried to reduce them again to get the main points (as I see them) across.
1. What is an ePortfolio?:
It’s a collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress, or achievements
2. What should they look like?
There should be evidence of self-reflection
3. What’s the teacher’s role?
They need to plan carefully to provide clearly defined criteria
Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey
4. What about the pupils?
Comments should go beyond “I think I did OK” or ” I think I have more to learn.”
Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.
The next question that I need to prepare for is: ” How do you manage something like that?”
Whilst on secondment, I’ve only been able to ‘play around’ with the idea and I’m looking forward to trialling it ‘for real’ when I return to the classroom in August. I’ve been very encouraged, however, by the motivation shown by the children I’ve helped set one up for so far. Because I set up the wikispace eportfolios, I receive an email every time a change is made to one of them.
Once you create an account, you can create more spaces with their own unique URLs. You can then invite others to become members of that new space by sending them an email.
One way to keep control over the new wikispaces you create, is to invite users using the ‘gmail trick’ method by adding a ‘+ name’ the first part of the email address.
The instructions in the slideshow below show the steps involved and describe how the same method can be used to create multiple accounts in a variety of online tools.
It was great to see it all coming together as people worked very hard behind the scenes to make sure that everything was just as it should be. KatieJohnCassieRichPeter were all beavering about two hours before ‘kick off’. A mention needs to be given to the staff at Carronvale House, Larbert . The venue was great and we couldn’t fault the service and value for money 🙂
There’s loads of other people to thank, too. John deserves a special mention for doing a brilliant job as M.C. The presenters were all great – and Con had us laughing in the aisles as he entertained us with his singing during his talk on how twitter is a great tool for CPD 🙂
A great big thank you again, too, to all our sponsors …….. and the loan of the Smart Board from Steljes was just brilliant!
Unfortunately I didn’t get round to timing my presentation (and probably blethered some unnecessary nonsense as well) so I only told half of the ePortfolio story that I’ve been working on with a small group of P6 children recently.
I suppose that making a 7 minute presentation requires similar skills as the art of summarising what you want to say on twitter? I still struggle to join in with twitter converstations because I usually fail miserably to get points over in just 140 characters.
Here’s the gist of my presentation from TeachMeet Falkirk. It’s followed by some snapshots of the children’s ePortfolios …. and an explanation from one of them as to what he perceives an eportfolio to be about.
A month or so ago, I wrote a post entitled ePortfolios in the Upper Primary Classroom? I’m now investigating using the concept with upper primary stage children in Carronshore Primary School. The children are Primary 6 stage and last session they were given their own wiki space which they used to record some things they’d been learning in class. I want to carry out a wee bit of research to see if it’s possible to use the same type of wiki to create an ePortfilio.
Before I meet with the children, I need to decide on the purpose for the ePortfolios, and what sort of template design would be appropriate. I’ve already decided to use thebasic PBworks academic workspacewith the children because they are familiar with the layout so don’t need instruction on how to use it. The children are also familiar with a number of free online tools and how to embed these in to a wiki. As I’m not based in the school at the moment, I think it’s important that a teacher there is involved in the project. The class teacher isn’t familiar with using any type of online spaces, but Evelyn W, who is currently teaching art in the school has just begun to look after the Carronshore Blog, and is keen to be part of the ‘experiment’.
Before deciding on the structure of the ePortfolios, I’ve done a bit of background reading (again) and come up with some ground rules for myself. These ideas are taken from a variety of sources and are not listed in order of importance:
The first page should contain an overview of the eportfolio and provide an explanation of the overall goals.
Reflection should be the ‘heart and soul’ of the ePortfolio
Be wary of learners focussing to much on technology skills, thereby puting less emphasis on the content
Guidelines as to what is to be included shouldn’t be too prescriptive
The children should feel they have ownership of the ePortfolio
There should be a structure in place, but this should allow freedom for creativity
The learning takes place in the constructing of the ePortfolio, rather than in the end product
Children need to be introduced to the concept and given clear reasons for constructing an ePortfolio
Children should be given regular and useful feedback on their reflections
I also think it would be beneficial for me to revisit my own experience of using online spaces with upper primary stage children. These spaces were not ePortfolios – but I think that parallels can be drawn. At the time, background reading helped me to gain a clearer insight and the thoughts that follow have been influenced by; Buckingham, Stern, Lafferty, Green and Hannon – and others………….. that’s the disclaimer bit (I’ll not refer to them individually here).
Every primary 7 pupil was given the opportunity to personalise their individual blogs. The children chose their own theme and created avatars. This helped them to gain a sense of ownership of their on-line spaces – they were allowed to play and experiment with them. They were, in fact, testing out different versions of current and possible identities Up until then, the main audience for their online spaces was themselves, but they were also eager for peer approval during that stage.
So – when setting up the ePortfolios for the primary 6 children, Time will need to be given so that the children can customise their wikis. There won’t be as many themes to choose from, but they will be able to use various online tools to help them establish ‘ownership’. For example, activities such as making vokisand designing weemeecharacters might be useful here.
Once their new online spaces were ‘designed and furnished’, the children were free to choose the content of their blog posts and wiki writing. The informal learning that took place happened primarily by means of experimentation rather than by following external instructions and directions.
Although, the ePortfolios will be more structured than the blogs and wikis were, the children will be involved in the planning stage so that they can have a say as to what that structure should look like, and as to what sort of content should be included.
Guidance was given by providing a sense of online audience by submitting comments on the children’s posts regularly. Offline, new interesting posts were shared with the children. This had the effect of influencing the others to add to their own blogs – often on a similar subject. They acted as role-models for each other. The children were asked if sharing their online writing in this way helped them to get to know each other better:
“In our blogs, we’re allowed to write about what wewant to write about, so we’ve got to know each other better”
“Some people in class don’t talk very much, but I can read their blogs and find out more”
“I feel as though I know my friends even more now because of what they write on their blogs”
“I like when we read the stories that people in our class have written on their wikis, and how good they are”
You get to know what peoples thoughts and dreams are through their stories on their wikis”
By adopting a similar approach, I hope that it will provide opportunities for reflection and self-assessment … key ingredients for building successful ePortfolios. I also hope that this sense of audience will increase motivation.
I suppose that an important difference between the blogs and wikis that I’ve used with children in the past and the ePortfolios that we’ll set up soon, is the clearer motive for creating them. This will be discussed at the outset. Goals will be set initially to help establish a sense of purpose.
I hope to have my first meeting with the children next week and when I get the ePortfolios up and running, I’ll give a wee update as to how things are going at the TeachMeet Falkirkevent next month!
Recently I came acrossa post on the ltscotland glow blog about a transition Glow group success. It was set up to give the primary 7 pupils the opportunity to liaise with the senior pupils at their local High School. I wonder if this is the same Glow group success that was shared ata MIICE conference I attended last session? At that conference, I heard about Transition projects happening within Glow. As well as the one described here, there were others that linked Primary 7 and S1 pupils via a variety of curricular areas:
S1 pupils read poems to the P7’s in Glow Meet and there was a question and answer session. The teacher then provided a session on how to write poetry.
A High School maths dept. set monthly puzzles for the P7’s. This gave the teachers valuable insight into the levels that the P7’s were working at.
A P.E. dept. had a huge amount of questions asked about their subject and it gave them an insight as to how the P7’s were feeling.
The English Dept. gave the P7’s the task of writing a hallowe’en story. The feeder primary school children held back until the last minute to post their stories because they didn’t want their ideas to be ‘hijacked’.
Our local Authority has just recently signed up for GLOW, so it’s too early to be thinking about using it as a vehicle to support the changeover from primary to secondary.
I have, however, been pondering the use of online spaces to aid the transition process in some curricular areas:
The first one is a link between some Primary 6 children and the Art Department at their local High School. It’s hoped that senior pupils will be involved, too.
Evelyn is going to showcase the children’s artwork on the blog, and we’re hoping that the primary 6 children will use theclass blogand perhaps theironline wiki spaces to discuss their artwork. The children in this particular class used these spaces last session with Cassie, their probationer teacher. The aim is to get feedback from High School in the form of comments.
The second idea is to create a link with the same set of pupils and the maths department of the High School. I’m hoping to work with the class teacher, another teacher who has recently been seconded to promote CfE and numeracy across the curriculum and a teacher from the High School maths department.
I intend to re-invent the Carronshore Maths blog that I set up a while ago and the associated wikis. The Carronshore maths blog isn’t an edublogs supporter blog, though, so I’ll be moving it to primarybloggerto get rid of any adverts ….. and to get access to akismet spam blocker …. and get lots more space, too 🙂
I’ve made a ‘help slideshow’ of how to export blog data from edublogs to primaryblogger – it might be of help to someone …
In a previous post a comment by Ray Tolley got me thinking about what happened to the various online spaces I had set up for Primary 7 stage children in the past.
“Perhaps one important point missed so far is about longevity. Having taken the trouble to help pupils build up an e-Portfolio, what happens if there is no ‘portability’ to the Secondary school or beyond? I doubt that promises of ‘interoperability’ will really materialise in the next 10-15 years! I think that it is very important to invest in a system that is future-proofed. I feel that children will get very frustrated if they have to start from scratch all over again when they move on to another school.”
I’ve been revisiting some of the spaces I set up and contemplating primary/secondary ‘portability‘ and ‘longevity‘ issues mentioned in Ray’s comment. Stories of some missed opportunities are outlined below:
Portability Issue 1 – Jamie’s Story
Jamie was typical of most of the boys in the class that year. They seemed less motivated than the girls when it came to imaginative writing tasks. When they were given their own space in a wiki, however, and allowed some freedom as to the subject matter, Jamie demonstrated that he was actually very capable of writing a great imaginative story. I’ve copied some of his story here:
His face shone dark in the moonlight, while his coat lay torn slowly floating in between the reeds. His shirt was dirty and wet. The dark waters that lay behind him gave him the appearance of a demon or a dark shadowy creature moving in the night. His sheath was well padded and worn away because of constant usage, it had three diamonds encrusted in it. It had a gold rim and a thin copper lining wrapped around it. This lay on his back but it never wieghed him down as it was as light as a feather. He had black boots on and they were half-covered by his camouflage trousers.
He walked on at a normal pace when he heard a purring noise, after a while he ignored it and carried on his stroll. He heard it again. He was watching a certain bush knowing that there was a creature behind it because of all the wierd purring noises. the world stayed as still as a stick insect as they lay eyes on eachother there was more rustling then the beast came out, a tiger that was as orange as sunset heading speedily at Kai. In reaction Kai drew his sword from his sheath and took a deep slash at the tiger’s leftpaw then stabbed it twice roundabout the same place the tiger had gave in to the pain and there it lay dead……
Everyone in the class was full of praise for his effort. It turned out that he liked a particular type of story and had read lots of them. He also enjoyed writing them in a notebook that he carried around. His Laughing in the Face of Death story started a craze and soon the boys in the class began carrying their own notebooks where they wrote similar styles of stories. I remember hearing them comparing stories, as well as seeking and giving advice.
Soon after Jamie’s story appeared on his wiki, we had a visit from two High School teachers from the English Dept. I’m not sure of the original purpose of their visit but at some point our HT had asked some of the pupils to share the class wikispace with them. They were impressed with Jamie’s attempt at story writing and had also heard about our primary stage ‘two stars and a wish’ assessment strategy and had left a comment for Jamie on his wiki space:
Star 1 ~ Fabulous use of imagery
Star 2 ~ Fantastic description
Wish ~ Develop the use of personification
… but that was the end of the High School teachers’ involvement. They had no idea of the ‘behind the scenes’ information I was privy to. On reflection, it would have been great if more had been made of that opportunity to bridge the gap between Primary 7 and S1.
Portability Issue 2 – High School Induction Days
In June each year, the Primary 7 pupils from our cluster spend three days getting to know their new High School. This is great for helping the transition to s1, and the children’s blog posts about their experience gave further insight into how they coped with adjusting to their new environment.
Lisa appeared to have no reservations at all! She wrote:
“I loved Larbert High, it has been one of my best experiences. I made a lot of cool new friends……”
Tessie, however, wrote about her confusion over the lunchtime arrangements:
“….after that it was lunchtime. a confusing nightmare. we had to line up and put money on our card which was easy. but then we went to the hub *dinner hall* and we got told to get a drink. easy. but then if you went and said can i have a burger please she would say something about do you have a meal deal drink. and i was like what??? it was weird.”
“I was shaking in the back seat. My Mum gave me £2.50 for my dinner money. Then when we eventually got there I stepped out the car not knowing which way too go then I saw some other people walking by that were in my class so I just followed them.”
Last year on the three day visit, I gave the primary 7 pupils some of our mp3 players with built in microphones (they had been used to using these in class) and they interviewed some of the teachers and ‘buddies’. We shared these interviews once the children had came back from their visit. I’ve included one of them here – I have permission from all involved to share this online:
I wonder what potential blogging has for smoothing out the primary/secondary transition journey?
Longevity Issue 1 – Marc’s Blog
Of all the primary 7 pupils, Marcwas the most successful in keeping his blog going as he moved on to High School. In fact, in April 2008 he received a comment from David Gilmour:
“Hi Marc, this is just to let you know that last month, April 08, your home page was the second most popular entry page on edubuzz.org, with 2571 visits.”
Marc obviously enjoyed his blog that had been set up for him in Primary 7, and he continued writing posts until Second Year at High School. His main love was for drama/singing/dancing (and probably still is!). He began receiving comments containing words of encouragement from like-minded people … comments such as:
“Hi Marc, i’m the drama teacher at Knox Academy, just wanted to wow and well done for doing your own theatre company, it’s very hard work but liking your name and what you are doing! keep me posted in your future projects! break a leg!”
Hi Marc – can you give me the details of the Flannan Isle play that you are doing. I will be doing a project with my class based on the mystery of the Flannan Isle and would be interested to know where I could get a copy of the play. Thanks
I’m glad you like Wicked! one of my favourite musicals! if you haven’t seen it yet you must! i seen Idina and Kerry and now booking to see the new Elphaba. We just took S2 and S3 students to see it in London
These comments were from Drama teachers – not from Marc’s own school, but from schools in another Local Authority. Despite the popularity of Marc’s blog, no-one in his own school ever commented (and the chances are that no teachers there were even aware that he had his own blog). It’s been a wee while now since Marc last updated his blog, but it is worth mentioning that he regularly posted to it for two years after he left primary School.
Longevity Issue 2 – Kayleigh’s New Home
Marc wasn’t the only one that year who continued to post to his blog after he’d moved on to high School. A handful of others posted during their first year of High School. Danni was one of these … and it was amazing to see a comment on her last blog post from Kayleigh.
Gi Day Danni
sorry it’s a long time since i spoke last. Iv’e just been so busy at school. I came 4th in the school cross country and 18th in the interschool cross country leauge out of a 110 people the lap was about 3km. They after that we had our faction sports carival (there like the houses we used to have) am in beard which is blue. these are the individal avents i took part in : 100m sprit i came 3rd out of the 8 people i raised ,i came 4th in the 200m out of 8 people, i came 3rd in long jump my longest jump was 3.29m and the last of the these events was the 400m i came 4th out of 8 people. After that we went onto team avents this is what they were: my team got second in leaderball, we came 3rd in flag relay, tunnelball,zigzag realy and shuttle relay But sadly we came last in passball. I have done other this as well i will tell you about them some other time
have a good on
from your friend kayleigh
The comment was from Kayleigh, who’d left Carronshore half way through primary 7 to go and live in Australia. It was just fantastic to read her blog post to say that she’d arrived safely and was settling in to her new life ‘down under’. It was also wonderful that there were 15 comments on that post in reply. These included comments from:
friends in her old Carronshore school
virtual friends she’d met via her Carronshore blog who live in another part of Australia
classroom assistants from carronshore
teachers from Carronshore
the HT from Carronshore!
a member of staff from another authority in Scotland
Longevity and portability Issues – Troubles with edublogs
The blog posts from the next group of Primary 7 bloggers didn’t have as much success when it came to either ‘portability’ or ‘longevity’ issues. Unfortunately just as these primary 7’s left primary school, edublogs began to have problems with bloggers logging on to their blogs. Passwords had stopped working and I looked for help on the edublogs forum – I discovered that others were also having difficulties accessing blogs.
I asked for advice:
I’m also very concerned that all the blogs I set up last session for my class now can’t be accessed by them. They were all added as users (admin status) but have now moved on to High School. If they try to log in, will they not gain access? Although I still monitor their blogs, I’ve no easy way of showing them a way around this new problem. Their blogs can be found at http://mvass.edublogs.org/examples-of-pupil-blogs/
Luke replied that I should ask the pupils to reset their own passwords … not straight forward in my case because I’d set up the blogs in such a way that I had given the pupils control over their own passwords … equal admin rights.
The students have their own blogs (set up with the gmail hack). I can reset their passwords because I know their usernames, but can’t then change the new passwords back to their own on because I don’t know what this was.
They’ve all moved on to High School now so i can’t even ask them!!
The blogs were set up in August 2007. I know that some used them just recently.
Because of the gmail hack set up I can access them with my own username and password as I also have admin rights to each of their blogs, but that doesn’t help them to gain access
The reply was:
Quite a sticky situation there. You could maybe add a contact form/note on your blog, asking students who can’t log in to contact you. You can then give them the new password. Other than that, maybe James might have a better idea.
This problem led to a lot of the primary 7’s being confused as to why they couldn’t access their blogs. I know this was happening because I was receiving‘change password’ email requests – but I’d no way of getting the new passwords to the ‘High School’ pupils.
Ok, that was hard work writing this and it’s time to press the publish button – but I’m thinking that there might be a way forward with some of these ‘portability’ and ‘longevity’ issues ….. watch this space 🙂
Recently, I’ve been reading about ePortfolios … e-portfolios …. and even Eportfolios (not sure which one to use!) Anyway, when I first heard the term I looked it up and immediately thought that the concept would be great to use when giving children their own online space. I’ve been introducing teachers here to class blogging … but after a time, they tend to ask me how they can give the children their own space. I can understand this – it’s exactly what led me to giving the children in my own class a page in a class wiki – then eventually their own wiki, and their own blog. The next question I’m asked is always…. ‘So – how should the pupils use the space?’ After more than two years of giving children their own online spaces, you’d think I’d have been able to answer that question straight away – but I always hesitate. I’ll attempt to reflect here on why that was.
The first attempt at giving the children an on-line space was viaa page on a class wiki. There were four wikis, actually – one for each type of writing. The children either wrote class work directly on to the wiki or, if they didn’t have the typing skills, they would put on a short section of whatever they had hand written. They also had a space on our topic wiki, and they learned how to upload pictures, slideshares, videos, etc. There were even maths group problem solving spaces where they wrote about on what they’d been doing in class …. and early attempts at making group podcasts to say how they’d solved some maths problems. At some point the children were given their own blogswhere they wrote about school related items.
With my next class, I began to allow the children more freedom over how they used their on-line spaces. To begin with, I’m not sure they knew what to do with this freedom …. this quote from Anna’s blog will demonstrate what I mean:
‘Well a couple of days ago me and courtney were pestering Mrs Vass and asking her about blogs and stuff and me and courtney were a bit stuck about what we could write on our blogs.So Mrs Vass made it very clear to me anyway that a blog is like an online diary and i found it intresting because everyone in my class thinks a blog is only for school stuff and its not its like courtney has been writing about Dundee.Anyway i just wanted to make it clear that a blog is not only for school stuff so thanks Mrs Vass for telling me that! ‘
What happened after that was just great! The children began to use their blogs for reflection – what they wanted to do when they were older, worries – and hopes – for High School, thoughts about family life, hobbies, etc. etc. They were also keen for the blog posts to be read out to their classmates, and this led to inspiring others to go home and write their own post. I’ve written a few blog posts in the pastabout the positive impact of giving the children more ownership over their blogs.
The children also began to use their wikis for writing imaginative stories. The quality of writing on their wikis was far superior to the writing they were producing in jotters during class time. Again, I’ve blogged about the great teaching opportunities that arose from sharing these stories on the whiteboard ….. not to mention important lessons that were learned about copyright issues😉
So why the hesitation in recommending that other class teachers leave children to their own devices?
Well, on reflection, it may have worked so successfully for me because the children were actually very well aware of the fact that their use of their online spaces was going to be used in the case study I was writing up for my Chartered Teacher course. Because I was going to be quoting them in my write up, permissions had to be granted by everyone involved. They were also aware that I was blogging about the whole journey, and a couple of them even left comments on my blog.
I’m not sure what would happen if children were just handed these spaces and told to ‘get on with it’ …. would it turn out to be no more that a bebo or myspace type of thing?? ….. not that I think that would be totally wrong, either – but that’s another story 🙂 What I’ve been lookng for, is something in between simply using the space for classwork and a kind of ‘laissez faire’ policy.
Could a type of ePortfolio be the answer – and if so, what form would that take? I’ve been reading a bit about ePortfolios and here are some thoughts so far ….. wee snippets taken from literature I’ve visited (apologies that there’s no direct link to original sources)
What is an ePortfolio:
In general, an ePortfolio is a purposeful collection of information and digital artifacts that demonstrates development or evidences learning outcomes, skills or competencies.
A collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress, or achievements
What should they look like?
They should be purposeful. Without purpose, an ePortfolio is just a folder of student work
The student work included in the portfolio should be that which best tells the story they want to tell – so they need to justify their choice of content.
There should be evidence of student self-reflection
What’s the teacher’s role?
They will only have the desired effects if planned for carefully
There needs to be clearly defined criteria to allow students to paint a picture of their efforts, growth, and achievement
Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey
Assessment techniques should improve achievement and not just monitor it
Assessments should align with what is considered important outcomes in order to communicate the right message to students and others about what is valued
What about the pupils?
Students need to see samples of good self-reflection so that thoughts and comments go beyond “I think I did OK” or ” I think I have more to learn.”
Criteria should identify what is most valued by students and teachers alike
Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.
Well there it is! My new recommendation for next session when teachers ask about giving children their own online space.
Blogs or wikis?? I’ll suggest wikis – I have recollections of the primary 7’s not liking the fact that their blog posts seem to disappear (archived). Also, on a wiki, the menus at the side and the discussion facility facility on blogs just seem to lend themselves more to the purpose?
Wow! Writing this post has been a learning journey for me ……. and it’s only thrown up more questions that I want to find anwers to ….. time to hit the publish button 🙂
A few days ago, I logged on to my email account to discover I had 2 new comments on this blog. They were both from Kim who has agreed to be my critical friend throughout this dissertation ‘experience’! I’m so grateful for these comments – they’ve ‘kicked me into action’ again. They were both very thought provoking .. I’m still contemplating them 2 or 3 days later 🙂
“When I asked them about their preference to using Bebo versus their Individual Blogs, I was really surprised that they thought that the Bebo site was ’safer’. They thought that it was safer because they had all opted to choose the ‘only friends can see my page’ option. They felt that there were no worries about ’strangers’ looking at their site – they were in control? They mentioned that the ‘public’ option on Bebo was for older people (bigger brothers and sisters) .……… so do they feel uncomfortable with their individual blogs?? Too exposed?”
Kim’s comment prompted me to investigate that issue more fully. Today in class, the children explained that it wasn’t that they felt unsafe using their blogs, but that they realised the dangers of placing individual photographs on there, or mentioning surnames, etc. These are things they feel that they can do on their Bebo sites because only their chosen friends can view these things. It’s not a case of them feeling uncomfortable with our Individual Blogs, just an awareness of the need to be more vigilant.
In her second comment, Kim asked,
“Maybe it comes back to the whole purpose of blogging in your room – have you discussed this with the kids? What do you use your blogs for?”
I found this a difficult question to answer. I think maybe there’s not just one purpose. I explained in the response that I’m trying not to allow them to become ‘teacher directed’. At the moment, for example, we’re writing group stories that will be turned in to Playscripts. Some groups are writing these on their wikis, some prefer to use paper and pencil. We aim to eventually act out these plays and video them for the blog…… that’s the plan, anyway 🙂
We’re also about to begin our WW2 topic. Before we do that, we’ll try to get a sense of history by making up good interview questions to ask an older member of the family. Some might choose to note down the responses, some might make a podcast and others have suggested carrying out a telephone interview.