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Reflective blogs in the primary classroom

Over the past 4 weeks, pupils in my class have been busy reflecting on their learning and writing about their experiences on a reflective learning blog. I've tried to encourage them to think more widely than just the work they do in school, but for them to consider learning at home, and whilst out and about. It's been tremendously successful and pupils are amazingly confident about what they are writing.

Already the outcomes for this work are clear.

  • Pupils have not only learnt about the need to stay safe when working in an online environment, but they are actually having to practice this on a daily basis. On the rare ocassion when they have made a mistake, perhaps forgetting not to include someones surname when innocently trying to discriminate between two Megan's, two Joshua's or two Shannon's, it has been their peers who have alerted them and encouraged to edit their work.
  • Their work is routinely critiqued by their peers and other adults in a way that wouldn't happen using more traditional written methods in books and paper. Pupils are learning about how to critique in a positive and constructive way, often remembering that how we communicate through text is sometimes open to interpretation.
  • Pupils are, on the whole, reading more. It's hard to quantify this, because I don't have any data to support it. However, I do know through conversations with parents and pupils, that pupils are choosing to spend time on the class blog site rather than sitting watching television or playing games on the computer. Children have a natural inquisitiveness which helps them to want to know about what other children have written, especially if they are known to them.
  • Quite often, pupils will ask to write a reflective blog in pairs. This has been quite a surprising outcome, as I'd assumed they'd be considering how their work has had an impact on their own learning. Pupils see opportunities where the 'learning moment' was shared with others, and therefore it would be natural to write collaboratively.
  • Parents are engaged in what the children are learning. They can review what the children have been doing at school and use that as a basis for discussion with their son or daughter. It is clear, that for some pupils, they couldn't have contributed to the blog without some input from their parents at home. I don't believe we engage parents enough in supporting their sons and daughters in their learning. Part of the issue is about empowering them in how to engage, another is giving them opportunity to do so.
  • Some pupils have become noticeable more excited and engaged by what they are writing about. My own belief is that their excitement stems from being able to communicate what they know for a real purpose and audience which reviews and responds to their thoughts. It challenges the author to think carefully about what they will write as it will be shared with a much larger community beyond just the class.

There is so much more I'd like to develop beyond this initial work. The school is based in a mixed socio-economic area, yet over 85% of the pupils have access to the Internet at home. The opportunity for more home --> school collaboration using Internet technologies is here. The question now is how do we as teachers and and as a school manage this activity, and how far can we develop the home --> school link?


Thanks, Jonathan, have you had any resistance from parents re their kid's working on-line? Did you offer advice of any kind to parents before engaging in blogging?

Hello Wayne,

That's a great question. I didn't discuss the blog with parents at all, but instead arming pupils with the knowledge and understanding to be able to share this project with their parents at home. I invited the parents to meet with me if they shared any concerns whatsoever. I also published a page on the blog site called 'Information for parents' which explained what the intention was for the blog site and the precautions that we had taken in order to keep our pupils safe. This page is available in the top right side of the main blog site.

The school already had permission forms from parents allowing or denying the publishing of photographs on the Internet. Only one or two parents chose not to allow their child's photograph to be used, of which one later changed their mind having seen the powerful work that the children were involved in.

Are you just beginning in blogging or are you a die-hard veteran?


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