I and my Y5/6 classes and staff at Kingswood Parks Primary have recently completed a unit of work on Blogging. My main focus was to equip the pupils and staff, who sit in for their CPD, with the necessary knowledge to set-up, add to and manage their own blog. The aim being to have them use their blogs for the remainder of the year independently across the curriculum.
The school uses the J2E Toolkit of which J2Bloggy is a part. J2Bloggy has a number of positives for me, but perhaps one of the main ones is that it puts the ownership, and therefore responsibility, onto the pupil to maintain it, including managing comments made by others on their blog in a safe environment.
It’s safe because the default position for any pupil blog is ‘in school’ only. Now at this point I can hear the folk crying that the point of blogging is to reach out to a wide an audience as possible. Well, I can’t disagree with that and if that is your aim, then this can easily be achieved in the J2Toolkit by setting up a category on J2Webby and having pupils publish to that, where moderation of work and comments is required by a teacher. E.g. These coded scenes. Or adding the pupils with enhanced editing rights to J2Bloggy as they are with their ongoing, (at the time of writing), blog submission for this year’s Take One Picture.
With these choices available, pupils can learn about the mechanics of how a blog works as J2Bloggy sits atop of a customised version of WordPress and have control of their own, secure, online space, but there is also the facility for public, teacher moderated blogs. All bases covered, I think. There are many blogging solutions available for schools, Kidblog, Edublogs, Weebly for Education. I don’t know what rights and restrictions these sites give to pupils to publish independently. You’ll have to explore that for yourselves if you’re looking for a blogging platform outside of J2E. However, if you have the J2E Toolkit and are still to explore using J2Webby and Bloggy, I’d set aside some time to do so, or get in touch.
So, has it been a success? In short, yes. The pupils all have their own blogs, have different categories on them and have published a variety of work. This has included work done inside the J2E toolkit but also other uploaded material and there’s no reason not to publish work done on the variety of apps the school has on its iPads. They have made and managed comments and indulged themselves with altering the theme and adding their own header images: some a tad on the large side! I think most pupils managed this independently and all with peer assistance. Where further development is needed is in the quality of the comments that are made and replied to. Not that we had anything inappropriate, but we did get a lot of ‘great blog’ comments without any reason why the pupil though it was great and a few ‘check your spelling’ types with no hint as to which spelling to check. However, I think that’s partly a maturity thing and partly they’re new to this, but I’m pretty confident we’ll get there.
To avoid duplication, I’ll point you to a post written way back in 2013, which I suspect you’ve never read or have forgotten about. I wonder if I’d remained at that school or had a slightly different role if my grand plan of individual portfolios would have worked? Time to launch it again at a different venue perhaps? 🙂