Term 2 – Week 9.
Assessment for our junior school is over, reports are more or less put to bed, so what better time to give something new a run.
BlogEd (for those of you outside NSW) is the Department of Education & Training (DET) sponsored blog platform provided to all teachers and students. My motivation for tinkering was twofold – I wanted to explore an easy technology “buy in” for my classes that was a little less “daunting” than Moodle*, and secondly I had volunteered to present a Professional Learning session on BlogEd at our next Staff Development Day at the beginning of Term 3, so I needed some practise!
(* The reaction of my students to Moodle has been puzzling. Many complain that it is too difficult to use! I suspect that they are (sadly) not as motivated as I to move to digital classrooms; that the rush from having very little technology in the classroom to the veritable feast available now has overwhelmed them more than we anticipated)
The night before, I created a Class blog (which I sadly cannot share because it is classified Private inside the DET Portal), with a simple post welcoming the kids, outlining some expectations I had of them and another post providing some links to resources that explained what blogging was.
A third post called “Let’s Play!” described a simple task designed to push their skills with technology.
I already knew that all my students had Bluetooth enabled mobile phones with built in cameras (a sign of the times!). The task required the students to spend some time outside the room and take a picture of something that spoke of “health” to them. They also had to be prepared to explain the image’s significance in a post on our new blog.
This task meant they had to:
- Shoot the image
- Bluetooth the image to their DER laptop
- upload the image to their media file in BlogEd
- Post on the blog, inserting the image into their post
Immediately the dynamic of the class changed. I spent the rest of the lesson guiding the kids through the steps, helping when needed, moderating posts and feedback. The moderation was done on a screen out the front of the room so the kids could see the process, and this was powerful because they saw first hand that they were identifiable and accountable for their actions on the site.
Almost every kid in the class asked at the beginning of the lesson “what are we going to use this for”. By the end of the lesson, they were suggesting uses.
The best thing for me was that I now have a new tool, with boundless opportunities (mostly suggested by the kids) to engage my class.