Archive for January 28th, 2008
After a lovely day off on Sunday, when the most energetic activities I took part in were breathing, reading and listening to my iPod, (Reasons to be Cheerful, The best of Ian Dury and the Blockheads being the most uplifting and entertaining listen at the moment!) I had an early start (a VERY early start!) this morning to be able to go through the paperwork process of getting an Armed Forces access pass.
I am official now so I was able to spend a really superb day at EpiskopiPrimary school. Well, I say “a day” but time here is a little surreal. I taught 3 hour and a quarter+ lessons and had a meeting with staff and we were finished by 1.30!!
From my time in West-Africa, I have discovered that lightning in hot climates can be truly incredible. I hope that the weather becomes slightly less dramatic by the end of the week.
Episkopi school is a vibrant and lively place with some gorgeous displays, including a continuously scrolling flat-screen display in the entrance hall showing a gallery of events and happenings.
During our afternoon meeting, we had a look at some of the positive experiences than come from maintaing a school blog.
Whose job is it to make up all these bizarre new ICT words – wikis, podcasting and blogs? I’d like that job! Take the last of those, blogs. It’s actually short for weblog – a log or diary that you keep on the world wide web. With an estimated 70,000 new blogs (or online diaries) created worldwide – everyday – it’s clearly an important phenomenon.
Whereas a diary is usually an intensely personal affair for your eyes only (what I wouldn’t have given to have read my sister’s diary all those years ago…) a blog is a bit different. A blog takes the personal and conversational nature of diaries and give this a public dimension, via the web – and allows you to do this easily, quickly and without the need to be, well, geeky… Think of it as a personal web page made up of frequently updated information. You can give voice to your opinions on any subject. If you create a blog you’ll become a ‘blogger’ engaged in the process known as ‘blogging’.
Designing your blog is point-and-click (using words, pictures, video or sound) and you can be up and running in minutes. You can update your blog as often as you wish, keeping it fresh and attractive for regular visitors. Importantly, you can show links to other material, such as other blogs or web sites with relevant, additional, information. If you’d still like to keep your thoughts private or by invitation only, you can protect it with a password. But because most blogs are public, you might be surprised how many people read and comment on your views and thoughts. So why should you want to blog? As a teacher, you might find that you benefit from keeping a journal of your experiences in the classroom or as a place for storing those late night flashes of genius or notes from an inspiring course. And, because your readers can leave comments, they may add some insight to yours. A big part of blogging is about sharing. But, be aware that some people that leave comments can be less-than-kind. More on commenting in subsequent posts… I have worked with a few schools investigating the potential of blogs in the classroom. At its simplest, a blog can be an online portfolio of children’s work containing text, scanned images, sound, photographs and even video. There is also the opportunity to be more inventive and use a blog as the basis of a class topic or investigation. One of the best school blogs, Sandhaig Primary School, for instance, not only includes a number of online galleries in its blog but is an excellent example of a school regularly updating its blog. There are book reviews, journal entries for school events and trips, and even examples of Flash movies they have created. You can visit it (and comment) at http://www.sandaigprimary.co.uk/
There’s a huge potential audience for your blog and, because your blog site can show how many ‘hits’ or visits there have been, children will love the fact that they’ve had so many readers. From this, other benefits develop too. The audience is potentially so large, real and live that writing for blogs takes an additional responsibility. Combining text and images can help to organise ideas more carefully and pupil confidence, not just with ICT, can increase. You might even find that blogging encourages greater accuracy, care and motivation. Blogging provides a great opportunity to give children a voice. Thank you to head teacher Peter Kerr, deputy Carole Yates, Matt Bland and their collegues for a superb day. Akrotiri School (and more on blogging) tomorrow.