Boys do not statistically do as well as girls with regards to literacy. However there are ways to fill this gap, and blogging seems to be a tool that has been proven to engage boys and girls in literacy.
Blogging compliments literacy and it is very important to combine them in your school. Child safety and the learning curve are invariably the most obvious hurdles for teachers, but it doesn’t have to be too difficult to overcome with improved safety capabilities in many blogging platforms and simpler featured offerings.
Boys achieving level 5+ increased by 60%
Boys in this school have taken to blogging and the school has had an increase of 60% in boys achieving level 5+. Other schools have had similar results. (see news article www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/blog-early-blog-often-the-secret-to-making-boys-write-properly-2211232.html )
What is a blog?
How to implement blogging
What I found to be the most engaging element of blogging with my students was how excited students became when they received feedback from peers. The blog was a way for students to show off their work and I was surprised to find how constructive the comments were. The gains were not immediate and it took a few lessons for many students to acknowledge what a constructive comment was.
As a teacher I found blogging a perfect way to receive feedback after a lesson, especially a lesson that I had developed and taught for the first time. I found the feedback on many occasions was outstanding and refreshing. There is nothing like being told what could make your lessons better by a student.
“One of the mistakes that teachers make when introducing blogs to their students is forgetting that blogging is about more than simply writing! Good bloggers work to become a part of communities of learners, regularly reading and responding to posts written by others. By doing so, students have the opportunity to see reflective writing in action. What’s more, they have the opportunity to begin to polish their own thinking on topics of interest by leaving comments for other bloggers.” Source: http://digitallyspeaking.pbworks.com/w/page/17791566/Blogging#BlogCommenting
Teacher – Do I have the time for this?
Yes. In the long term blogging will save you so much time. Students get individualised feedback by their peers, parents, and now and again from someone who is specialised in that area, this all saves you writing feedback as frequently, while still allowing you time to assess the students.
If you have a special project and you can push the boat a bit with time, I’d recommend making links with other schools, so that students have a much broader reading base. This makes it even more exciting when the student receives a comment from someone they don’t know. The whole human interaction part makes the learning more fun. Showing off work, getting comments, modifying their work based on this feedback and creating a learning portfolio becomes easier and less time consuming.
Special time saving ideas – The photo tip
I used to get the students to take pictures of all their work and I’d upload them onto the school network.
I’d have the student name on a card and give this card to each student. The students position the card at the top of their paper. For each photo, their name would be at the top, so when they try to find their work on the computer or ipad to upload it from the network, they can see their name at the top.
Every lesson the person taking the photographs would be someone different. With a good camera, it would take no longer than 10 minutes to take the photographs and 5 minutes to upload to the network. (Tip: Use the macro setting on the camera. Usually the icon with the flower)
Before blogging, by the time I would have marked the students work, maybe a couple of lessons after the work was completed, the novelty of the lesson had worn off, but using the latter method of the blog, the feedback is all completed in the same window, which saves you time taking lots of books home (still required, but reduced). The whole assessment process is now a much more streamlined process.