I fear that I have become one of those people that gets unfollowed on Twitter because they used to be normal tweeters, but has now become one of those annoying ones who keeps tweeting over and over about the same thing. Not quite as annoying as the “The Daily [insert name here] is out!” tweets though, I hope!
The reason for my recent change of status on the “annoying” meter? Blogging! I have started blogging with my class and I am so amazed by them that I can’t help but share it with anyone and everyone who will listen to me as I chant the blog address at them. I haven’t been a teacher for very long (3 terms and 2 weeks, to be exact!), but this is very quickly becoming one of the most important tools I think I have ever come across.
Having blogged with my class for nearly 2 weeks now, we have had 79 posts and 383 comments. I wonder if 79 pieces would have been written in their literacy books if I had sent them home armed with their ruled margins and a biro. I also wonder how willing they would be to engage with each other’s work in order to help and improve their peers’ writing skills if it was all in a book. Yes, I’m caught up in the blogging whirlwind, but this is the future.
The writing purists and the Daily Mail readers who criticise our education system for producing hoards of illiterate children who cannot spell or use sentences properly would have a field day on my class blog. There are a lot of spelling errors. There are a lot of grammatical errors. There are a lot of syntax errors. These things I will admit, yet that will soon change. Children are commenting on each other’s blog posts and praising their good writing, but offering constructive criticism and pointing out errors by writing an “improvement sandwich” (grown-ups may know this particular theory by a less child-friendly name…). Over time, their work will improve and these errors will become less frequent. After all, they’re more likely to remember what their classmates tell them on an online blog than what the teacher writes in their literacy book.
So I’d managed to whip up their enthusiasm by being able to comment on each other’s blog posts, yet something else was just around the corner: David Mitchell’s Quadblogging project. My class have been teamed up with a school in Blackpool, a school in Florida and a school in Canada. The children in these schools have been visiting our blog and commenting on our posts. When they realise that someone in a country at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean is interested in what we are learning about in our school in Newcastle, they started blogging even more in the hope of getting “exotic” visitors! After 1 week of Quadblogging, I am certain that this is one of the best projects that will come out of using technology in education. My children are willingly going home and writing in their own time, writing about what they want, and writing without any homework or pressure from me. I’m so proud of them all.
A special mention for one child in particular. Having never read a Shakespeare play in his life, Frankie went home and researched the story of Hamlet (after a brief introduction in class), put the story into his own words and shared it on our class blog. An amazing piece of writing.
Maybe I need to stop tweeting about them so much. Maybe I should keep shouting it out to the world how amazing they are. Whatever your opinion, please take a look at (and maybe even comment on) the blog: class12.hotspurblogs.net and follow them on Twitter: @HotspurClass12 (they’re not tweeting just yet, but I’m trying to build up an audience for when they start very soon).
Some thank yous (in no particular order):
- David Mitchell (@DeputyMitchell) for first getting me thinking about blogging when I was a lowly GTP student with lots of ideas in my head but no idea about how to implement them, and for developing the fantastic Quadblogging project.
- John Sutton (@HGJohn) for building our school blog site and for giving my class the Creative Blogmark.
- Alice Witherow (@AliceWitherow) for bringing the idea to Heaton.
- Miles Wallis-Clarke (@MilesCMWC) for investing in blogging and for putting up with my tweets at all hours and my incessant visits to his office with my next crazy idea.
- Hotspur Class 12 (@HotspurClass12) for being amazing.