The Reading/Bracknell cluster has been running for just over 12 months. Laura Mahoney (Ridgeway Project Leader) explains the impact so far…
Having heard the buzz about blogging from the first Reading cluster we were excited to join the new Reading and Bracknell cluster just over a year ago. We went along to the very first session and David Mitchell introduced us to the many opportunities and possibilities blogging as a school can bring. Slowly, we then began to grow our school blog. I began the Reception blog with photos and videos of daily life in our classroom. As parents began to notice the blog they loved being able to see the learning that had happened that day. This allowed real conversations to develop after school between parent and child as well as learning being continued. This was a marked improvement on ‘What have you done today at school Oscar?’ to which Oscar replied daily with ‘Nothing’ or ‘I just played’. This inspired me to really push the blogging across the whole of Early Years, sitting down with teachers of an evening and making blog posts together. Every morning I would promote the blogs in the playground, asking if parents had seen a particular photo or video. I gave out many, many slips of paper with the blog address on asking parents to comment with their children. Parents very quickly realised, if they commented on the blog Miss Mahoney would leave them alone. Never before had I felt the learning at school was truly being shared and continued at home as it is today in our school. Here are a few quotes from parents on our Early Years about the impact the blog has had.
‘The blog is just great, I never worry about what he is up to in school now. I know he is safe, looked after and most of all having the best time’
‘It is lovely for my family in Syria to see him at school’
‘Every day the first thing he does when he gets home is log on to the blog himself and talk about every picture in detail’
‘We love the blog, she now will tell me about everything you do in school, I can’t believe how much you squeeze into a day’
‘I can’t believe Paul Hollywood commented on my daughters cooking, that is just amazing’
In KS2, the Year 3 blog with children writing up their very best writing for the world to see, loving the ability to comment on each other’s writing outside of school. One by one each class had their own blog launch, globe watching, the works. The most successful of which was in Year 6. With friends strategically placed around the world popping up on the globe leaving a few comments and David Mitchell retweeting us to the world we waited. The next morning sitting next to the Year 6 teacher we logged on to check for more comments, 106, we were blown away! A school in Hong Kong had found our blog and started a dialogue with our Year 6 class. No more motivation was needed, they were blogging quicker than the teacher could approve comments, which certainly kept them beautifully busy at the end of the Summer term. By the end of July we had a large number of children in KS2 excited about writing at home and teachers showcasing those ‘wow’ moments in class.
September brought an influx of new teachers and new enthusiasm for the blog. We began with a staff meeting, demonstrating how to use the blog to share all those amazing moments in class for the world to see. By the end of September every class had their own blog and were using it weekly if not daily. When the enthusiasm wore off we introduced ‘The Golden Laptop’. This now is awarded to any class, group or individual for the blog post of the week. Now things have got competitive. But we still knew this was only the tip of the iceberg as far as the possibilities blogging could open up.
In Early Years we wanted to harness the interest the parents were showing in the blog to take it further and allow the children to blog at home. We thought the ideal opportunity for this was to replace the traditional ‘Bear Diary’ with the ‘Bear Blogs’. So far we can’t find a negative. Every child has taken home the class bear and written a blog post. It only do you not have to worry about that tatty old book going missing, parents don’t have to worry about printing off photographs, sticking them in and writing in their best handwriting all by Monday morning.
After watching David deliver a few Coveritlive session and using tools such as Padlet and Thinglink we knew our next step was to use the blogs as a day to day teaching tool. We are still at the beginning of this new journey but have had some great examples. In our staff meeting Paul Hollywood answered some questions the staff had abut hot cross buns, many were disappointed it was Mr Frost on Coveritlive. Year 5 children have become experts at giving feedback, leaving live comments on Year 4’s sentences. Nursery children could not believe that the Bear from ‘Whatever Next’ told them all about how to turn a cardboard box into a rocket. Year 4 have begun to use it to reinvigorate guided reading sessions with Thinglink. After putting a survey on the blog Year 5 received over 150 responses, leading to amazing pie charts and graphs being created and developed into a power point presentation.
Blogging has opened the window to the world for the children at http://theridgewayblogs.net/The Ridgeway Primary School. It has inspired, encouraged and excited the children to always display the very best of themselves for the whole world to see.