Tag Archive | pupil voice

Negotiated Learning

Very recently, I stumbled upon a comment on twitter by Oliver Quinlan about Negotiated Learning.

I followed a link to his blog and read this :

“Mr Quinlan… can I show you something..?”

You don’t have to have been teaching long to have had one of those moments; when a pupil brings you something amazing they have done of their own accord. When left to their own devices children and young people can often come up with the most exciting examples of their learning

I decided to introduce the idea to my Primary 6 stage class last week – and they loved it. I wanted to stress that the idea wasn’t about regurgitating what they already knew, but that the point was to learn something new then share this new learning with their peers.

  I quickly made a makeshift ‘first ideas’ proposal sheet for them to complete.

They were allowed to work on the task on their on, in pairs, or in small groups.

There was a buzz of excitement in the class as they all made their choices about what they were going to learn. The excitement obviously spilled to areas outwith the class, because the HT mentioned how she’d overheard some Primary 6s discussing their ‘negotiated learning’. I hadn’t had the opportunity to share the concept with her … but I think she’s sold on the idea, too now 🙂

Here’s some of the new learning that took place last week:

Blogs, Wikis and Emergent Writers

 I mentioned in my previous post that 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 🙂

  • Andrew enjoys writing blog posts. His wiki story is looking fantastic, too.
  • Kian started this story as 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 Falkirk Bus Routes.
  • Lewis is very proud of his post about his holiday to Aviemore

 More to follow about the girls’ writing 🙂

Glow Blogs.. Wikis.. Stories … and ePortfolios

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 Festival my 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.

I’ve noticed that Andrew has already added pages to his wiki. It’s looking great 🙂 http://cpsandrewf.wikispaces.com/

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 🙂

Pupil Voice

 Last week, I posted my reflections about the Participation and Learning Seminar in Edinburgh, and on Thursday of this week we hosted our 2nd Local Authority discussion group  event. This was the ‘Meet the pupils’ evening.


These  local events have been organised by the six representatives who attend the National events. We felt that it was important to ‘spread the word’ to others in the Authority who didn’t have the opportunity to attend the seminars arranged by LTS.

We also want to hear what strategies other teachers in Falkirk schools are using to give children their own ‘voice’.

It was a great CPD event for all who attended (and we were pleasantly surprised by the number of teachers who took the time to come along). The children from the various schools spoke confidently to the adult audience about how their voices are heard. During the informal ‘question and answer’ presentations, we heard about innovative ways to use pupil councils and learning logs. We also heard children from one primary school who were encouraged to leave sticky notes about important decisions on a special board in the entrance area of the school.  

The two pictures below show the P5 children from Carronshore  and their teacher, Miss Law.




 These children talked about the online ‘voice’ spaces they have been given.  It’s a step beyond just being part of their class blog. As I listened to them talk, I wondered if they were getting the same ‘buzz’ from talking to teachers as some pupils from my own class did last year

I was their taxi driver home – and they made it clear to me that they had thoroughly enjoyed the experience as well. Even although they are two years younger than the primary 7 children I taught, I got the impression that none of them would forget the evening that they got the chance to teach the teachers.

Almost a year on and thoughts of that case study are still never very far away:-)



Continuing Conversations

 The ‘World of Work’ posts are still appearing on the pupils’ individual blogs. The children’s posts now show evidence of building on the ideas expressed by their peers. They’re referring to each others’ blogs – some even adding links. I’m glad now that I made the decision to ‘take a step back’ and allow things to develop naturally.

A few children who don’t normally ‘blog’ from home are beginning to do so. For example, Russell  recently updated his blog so that he could join in the ‘conversation’:

“One of the hard things in life is choise some are easy like what should i wear and others are hard like what car to buy. BUT THE HARDEST ONE IS WHAT JOB TO HAVE BECAUSE THERE ARE LOADS. When i grow up i would either like to be a normal police officer which is like solving crimes and stuff. Or in the traffic police, which is like catching speeders and arriving at motorway accidents or illegal number plates. Or be in the armed responce unit which are the police with guns and go to accident which suspects are armed. ”  

Jaydean also wrote from home:

“Our class, P7V had a visitor, Miss Hart. Miss Hart is a journalist, she told us a lot about journalism its made me think. I love performing but journalism sounds quite fun. My passion is to perform as I love singing, dancing and acting but if anything goes wrong and Im not able to perform, I’ll consider being a journalist. Just as my friend nina said in one of her posts there are so many desisions!!!!”

Other children who don’t normally blog are choosing not to write about the ‘World of Work’ thread, but are posting new topic conversations.

For example, Kieran S recently posted:

“I am going on a trip to Ardeonaig. On the 9th to the 20th of may you get to go lots of places like up a mountain and go Canoing. You get to go on the high ropes there is a games hall to there is lots more stuff.I went last year to. With my friends Russell Adam and Stewart It was SO funny. but the bad thing is that you have to do the cleaning up after you has finish your dinner. It is still very good. one of the funny thing that happened was when Russell and Adam put Stewart’s pajamas in to the water and he had to take my one’s but it was not funny for me. I hope i have fun when i go.bye”

Courtney wrote:

“hi well i know that i haven’t been on but ive been bizzy well you know that i’m in da scouts so you might know that i do badges well i’ve been doin ma photogrephers badge and we’re doin five aside footi and goin up kanarde wood oh and a beaver trail. finaly were goin t a bothy but i dont know if i’m goin as it’s two hours in a bus and it is really snowy so it will b cold in da tent!!!!”

The children who do tend to post in their own time are becoming more adept at it.

For example, Anna wrote recently:

” I’m gettting the hand of writing posts now! At first i was totally stuck but now i write about anything really. I like to comment on other peoples blogs to,especially people from the allstars and even our class write gr8 posts that you have to comment on. I reccomend Moni’s Blog, Because she has lots of posts about what we have been up to in p7v. I also like looking at Beki’s Blog because she has interesting posts like book reviews and stuff. Ninzy’s Blog. I like to look at other peoples to but i dont have time the now cause i’m going out with my little cuz. …To be continued D

 Maryam tends to write posts regularly. A recent post received a number of comments. One of them was from Nadine  from  Allstars.

Nadine commented:

‘Hi Maryam!!! )
I am Nadine from The o8 Allstars!! I am from Australia and i am almost twelve years old.
You sound like a really nice person and i’d really like to be a friend!
Anyway, i am soooo into writing too! My whole class says i’m so good too.
I want to be a writer so badly!!
I might be a doctor too, but i hate having to inject needles and see blood! (

I’ll need to devote some time to investigating the impact of comments on postings 🙂