There’s Blogging and There’s Blogging…

Blogging is becoming increasingly common in schools, but are all blogging programs helping to improve student learning outcomes?

This is an issue I was discussing with a member of my professional learning network recently.

There seems to be two main schools of thought on educational blogging programs:

  • The unrestricted program: this may involve all students being given a blog and the aim is for them to express themselves in any way they like. This program may be largely student centred from the start.
  • The structured program: blogging is integrated into a literacy program, momentum is built and high standards are set. This program may be teacher centred before becoming increasingly student centred.

When it comes to classroom blogging, I am an advocate of a program that:

  • begins with a class blog before allowing students to work on their own blogs
  • is integrated into a literacy program on a regular basis (while incorporating other curriculum areas)
  • sets high standards for writing, design, netiquette etc.
  • is regularly maintained and is an evolving space
  • allows students to express themselves while improving their educational outcomes
  • provides feedback and explicit teaching to students
  • begins with a high level of teacher guidance, before increasingly offering students more responsibility.
Through this sort of a program I have seen students achieve the many educational benefits of blogging.

If students practise a poor standard of writing over and over, unhelpful habits are formed and the scope for improvement is limited.

I believe blogging can help students become exceptional writers when the following parameters are put into place.

When I first began blogging in 2008, my program was haphazard and I didn’t set high standards. Needless to say, my students didn’t get all that much out of our program.

One of the biggest mistakes I made was lack of momentum. Because blogging wasn’t integrated into my work program, I had to find time in a busy curriculum to work on the blog. This led to low student interest and lack of opportunities for explicit teaching.

When it came to posts and comments, I accepted almost anything and didn’t take the time to scaffold the students’ writing on the blog.

In reflection, my original blogging program was also too student centred from the beginning. I have since learnt that beginning with a more teacher centred program before giving students more responsibilities has provided my class with the most rewarding outcomes.

Through learning from and with exceptional educators, such as Linda Yollis, my blogging program has continued to evolve and improve.

Even now, I have to regularly stop and take stock of my own classroom blogging program to:

There can be a natural ebb and flow to a quality blogging program.

I encourage educators to think about these things when establishing or evolving their blogging programs.

I’ve heard many people comment that they have “done” blogging or they “do” blogging, but what is it that is really being done?

How has your blogging program evolved?

What other advice do you have about quality blogging programs?

Standards for Graduate Teachers in ICT

Today I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of innovative educators from around Australia at a focus group in Melbourne. We were reviewing the Graduate Teacher Standards of the National Professional Standards for Teachers and elaborating on these in regards to ICT integration.

These standards were developed as part of a project by Teaching Teachers for the Future (TTF) targeting systematic change in the ICT proficiency of graduate teachers across Australia.

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and The Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE), are developing and trialling explicit ICT specific dimensions (elaboration/exemplars/performance indicators) for approximately 60 % of the descriptors in the Graduate Teacher Standards.

This is an exciting project which will shape pre-service education and hopefully bring about an exceptional standard of graduate teachers across Australia.

Despite feeling a little overwhelmed by acronyms, it was great to meet some Twitter friends face-to-face and engage in some stimulating conversation with like minded professionals.

If you are interested in reading the standards, you can view the PDF here AITSL National Professional Standards for Teachers

This is a summary of the standards which broken down into further sub-sections. It was an interesting exercise to reflect on how ICT can be embedded into all of these standards.

Standards Grad teachers

What do you think the specific standards for graduate teachers should be in regards to ICT integration?

What do they need to know and do?