As the end of 2012 and my first year of teaching came to a close I was dissatisfied with my writing programme, I'd had some success but was faced with a lot of reluctant writers, a mixture of poor-great writing lessons and many more questions than answers. Compounding matters I'd attended a Learning Network PRT session about the use of ICT. Walking away from that session I believed that using Twitter, student/class blogs and other online tools may play a significant role in moving my writing programme forward.
My goals were as follows:
Provide an audience for my budding writers. (Twitter, blogging, quad blogging)
Engage the children through online learning tools or Apps. (Collaborative writing tasks, blogging, digital publishing).
As I write the class blog has currently generated almost 16,000 page views, hundreds of comments, countless posts and Quadblogging forms a regular part of our reading and writing programme. Meanwhile, several students have made pleasing progress with their own blogs. The class twitter account is constantly used, has over 100 followers and is a consistent attendee on Kidsedchatnz. But this is not the success I want to celebrate here, even if there is plenty of improvement to be made in the kids work or my writing programme.
By delving into the digital world headfirst there have been many benefits but these three are worth sharing:
- A class blog and twitter feed can provide connection with the class when children are away, I love that some of my class will write posts just to stay in touch.
- As students have arrived or left room 1 the class blog and Twitter have provided a connection with previous schools and old friends. This helps with the settling in period and has also provided a sense of understanding amongst the students as they get to know each other. New students may class blog and twitter feed can provide connection with the class when children are away, I love that some of my class will write posts just to stay in touch.
- The online tools and apps have provided a way to manufacture children into leadership positions as they become class experts. It is easy to provide a website or tablet to a child so that they can be the first in the class to experience a tool. This puts them in a role they may not normally experience helping some of my children to build their confidence and has added to their motivation in class.
- I had hoped that the blog may also assist in promoting Te Reo. Our school has employed a Te Reo specialist but I wanted my students to receive more than this, especially my Maori children and hoped that they may use the blog and even twitter to communicate in Te Reo. When I first suggested this I was given a half hearted reply. But in the last few days two student blogs have started and they both want to promote their Te Reo Tajae's blog Pare's blog Their blogs even have the ability to complement teacher resources, as they are intent on promoting their language in ways that are authentic and therefore real to other students.
- Blogging and Twitter have both provided a constant supply of examples where my class are meeting the Key Competencies. They need to: work hard to communicate meaningfully with other people; manage themselves and their blog efficiently and effectively; use language, text & symbols; many have chosen participate and contribute by promoting their own cultures and interests to other people.