Monday, 25 June 2007

Lenva Shearing

Hello all, my name is Lenva, and I am the facilitator of the Bucklands Beach ICTPD Cluster in Auckland and I am delighted and privileged to be added as an author to this blog.
I have been experimenting with using Web2.0 tools in the classroom to support teaching and learning for some time now, with mixed results.
I tried to find examples of excellence in the use of these tools, but it proved more difficult than I had first thought. Many blogs I have found on the net seemed to deteriorate into a gossip or chat session. I have to say that some of the best examples that are available are from New Zealand.
I have found that it is absolutely essential to identify a purpose and intended audience for a blog. Once the purpose or topic has finished, then new posts to the blog should cease. In the case below the purpose was a literature circle with about 10 students, studying the Diary of Anne Frank.
I started with classblogmeister. This provided a very safe environment for the children to write their blogs, as everything is behind passwords, and all the blog articles the children write are forwarded to me by email for approval before posting. This way I could keep a watch on the quality of the work, and ensure that the comments were appropriate.
However, the blogs in this environment are hard for other people to find, and this defeated the purpose we wanted for our blog. The children wanted an authentic audience and wanted feedback from a wide range of readers.
I then took the posts from blogmeister and put them into a blog in Blogger. This blog was completely controlled by me. Although I did all the postings, they were written by the students and credited as such. Once the children finished their work, they ensured it was correctly edited and available in digital form, ready for me to post.
You can view the blog at
This blog has almost finished. They are completing their last posts now, and will finish with some reflections of the whole exercise.
Now that this has been a successful experience, the students and the teacher are feeling more confident now to branch out with less control from the teachers. We will probably set it up similar to this blog and give the students authorship. However in saying that, no student has asked for this to happen, and they are very very proud of their blog (and rightly so). They are absolutely empowered by it, and have taken the skills learnt and are using them in a range of other situations.
If you are interested take a look at the work of a student (Cheyenne) who was part of the literature circle and then went on to use blogging to record her progress and processes during the current science fair.
It really is exciting stuff and I can't wait to see what comes of all this.

Monday, 18 June 2007

What's a blog & Why blog?

Hi guys!

Just a quick intro: I am Rachel Boyd from Nelson!
I teach a great class of year 2/3 students and am also a Lead Teacher in our ICT cluster. I've been blogging with junior students for 2 years now and we are loving every minute of it. I'm constantly amazed at the way that our kids take everything in their stride and think nothing of using and adding another web2.0 tool to their learning kit!

I thought that these two presentations from Teacher Tube that I made this year might be useful/interesting for some of you. The first video is my 6 & 7 year old's candid, unscripted take on what a blog is and why they love them; the second video is a presentation I made on the benefits students can gain from blogging.

Enjoy and let me know your thoughts/questions etc.

Cheers, Rachel

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Blog Comments

Thanks everyone for your contributions and comments this week. I have included an element in the sidebar of the wiki which displays the most recent comments left on the blog. Instructions for adding this element to your blog are here.

In the examples from Leanne and Rachel (see previous post) and Alisons blog, readers are able to leave comments. Also the comment moderation has been enabled.  The comments will be emailed to the blog author first and can either be accepted or rejected. There is also the option to allow anonymous comments, as Alison has used with her students.

Both of these options have the teacher as author only. The primary teachers have set up a class blog, however students can only post once the teacher has logged in. From your comments could I suggest we explore 'students as authors' especially in a secondary setting. Are there any examples teachers can share with us?

Some questions to consider:
How do you see this being administered in an education setting?
What are the potential benefits/challenges?
Also Alan's comment that these online areas can become a 'passive acceptance point by students' is, I believe, not uncommon in many online areas. So what is it that keeps these areas active, relative and has contributors coming back for more?

So... we have another place to learn...should we assume that because it's through this online medium that it is going to be any better or engaging than more traditional or familiar learning environments?

From "Today’s Cartoon by Randy Glasbergen", displayed with special permission. For many more cartoons, please visit Randy's site @

Monday, 11 June 2007

Students Blogging

I would like to invite any teachers who are blogging with their students to share how they have set their blog up and include recommendations on how to approach this.

I would like to start with examples by teachers who have set up a class blog. In the examples below the teacher is the actual registered author. For the students to contribute the teacher logs in and the student posts. In the 'create post' area there is a field where you can include labels so you can view all posts by labels, in the blog. Each time a student posts they include their name in the 'labels for this post' field. This creates a list of student names which can be clicked on individually to view their posts - easy for parents and teachers to locate and comment on posts by individual students.

I have included the same feature in this blog but have used topics as labels rather than student names. Labels can be added as a page element by clicking the template tab. This strategy is easy to set up and monitor by the teacher as students are not registered as individual authors. I believe this strategy can be a useful for teachers who are starting to explore blogging with their students.

This option has been used by teachers in the following blogs. See the element 'View Posts By Students' in the side bars of the blogs. Thanks to Leanne and Rachel for these examples.
Room 9 Centrals Blog
Room 9's Writing Spot
Room 14 Sunnybrae Normal School

What is a wiki

Hi Jeremy,
I use a wiki to supplement my blog. For example I will create my post keeping it short and to the point. If there is more, I add links through to the wiki where I include detailed information, post documents and slideshows etc that can be read or downloaded. A wiki is also a great area for groups of people to collaborate on a project, explained nicely here by the authors of 'Wikis in Plain English'.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Their spaces!!

One of the reasons I have become so interested in Web 2.0 and its applications is that fact that it really is the world that the students are growing up in.

I am currently carrying out some research on the use of blogs and skrbl boards as brainstorming and 'silent debate' tools, to see how the students are engaged and whether they are more comfortable discussing texts and issues 'on screen'.

I am looking forward to hearing/seeing what everone else is doing in their programmes.

Alison Cleary
Tuakau College

Engaging students

Hi all
I am sure this can be a very effective tool to draw students in and get them to reflect on ideas. I have also started looking at wikis, but have not made much progress - that old bugbear of time!!

Jeremy Skerman
Waiopehu College, Levin

Trying to catch the coat tails!

Hello everyone,

I'm not so much 'joining the revolution' as 'trying to hang onto the coat tails as it rushes by!' I don't really know anything about blogging but am very interested in learning and being able to apply to the classroom as another tool in aiding learning. Thanks Fiona for putting this together. I look forward to everyone's contributions.

Vanessa Lamont
Southland Boys' High School

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Joining the revolution

I have just enrolled in the ICT in English NZ group blog. I already have a blog for my classes. It's not very active, I'm afraid, so I'm joining this scheme to get ideas. Ideally I would like my students to each have a blog and keep a record of their learning and so on. But I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to instigate this.

Maureen Jansen
Rotorua Lakes High School

Creating a Blog

We are currently exploring how to create and set up a blog. This is a team blog. If you send me your email address you will be sent instructions to register for blogger and be able to contribute to this blog. I will also post support notes online at each stage if you need them.

Once you are registered for blogger save this link in your favourites and don't forget your password!

This link will take you to your blogger dashboard where you can post, view or edit your blog. It is also handy if you have more than one blog as you can view editiing tools and access all your blogs from a single page.

Here is a picture of my dashboard, click to enlarge.