Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Blogging! Has it made a difference?

I have been on this journey for a while now and it's time to reflect on the changes that have occurred, or difference that it has made in my delivery of the curriculum and more importantly  student success.

This term my class all started blogging on their individual blogs.   The children were very familiar with the blogs as we had a class blog that we used successfully last year and the beginning of this year to promote visible teaching and learning.

The impact on engagement was instant.  Children are highly motivated to 'share' or post on their blogs. They have an authentic global audience.   There is more purpose to what they are working on and are connecting with friends and family across New Zealand and in some cases overseas.

The most important part of this process has been teaching the children how to comment on other children posts.  They follow the 3 steps of write something positive, thoughtful and helpful.

By following this template it has stopped children from giving shallow feedback like 'Good work',  'Awesome, well done!'.  Their comments now are full of advice or questions that promote further learning or initiate a learning conversation.  But the biggest impact to the students learning has been the improvement of punctuation in their writing.  This has been transformational!  Through the combination of the  3 steps to writing a comment and having an authentic audience the children's punctuation has improved out of sight. 

Here are some examples.

This had made me make changes to my delivery of writing.  I have stopped giving children constrained practice activities (worksheets), related to surfaces features like punctuation.  These have been replaced with blog commenting.  Not only is this a more authentic writing activity and engaging, it has lightened my workload in terms of finding or creating the activity and then making them all.

Finally, my ultimate aim as an educator is to cause learning.  My biggest change that I am currently working through is ensuring that all teaching and learning is visible.  Why?  Because not only do I want to engage the students, but I also want to engage the Parents, Caregiver and Whānau, so they can play an important part of the learners journey.  

So is this happening?

This is gold!  How does a comment like this make a student feel?  That's easy to answer.  It motivates and drives them, it gives them a huge sense of pride, they see themselves as a learner, an author and a teacher.  They have a voice and a world wide audience that is listening!

I would like to acknowledge Mark Maddren for his ongoing support as the Manaiakalani Outreach facilitator.


  1. Thank you very much for your reflections Simon and the fact that you are willing to make them public for others to learn from.
    It is great to see the whanau beginning to get involved in the blog.
    I wonder if we could create some sort of class competition to see who can get the most comments from parents/whanau?
    Maybe we could get the akonga to create a digital learning object that could teach their parents how to comment?

    1. Thanks for the comment Mark. I discussed the competition with the class today and they are really keen. Its amazing how many of the children have not shown the blogs to their parents yet. So hopefully this will change. Kate and I will be working on Blog commenting with the parents at learning conferences. Hopefully this will plant a seed or two.

  2. He mihi mahana kia koe Simon. This is an extremely valuable reflection in light of the work being carried out around the country to drive meaningful change in pedagogy. Thanks for sharing it. Reading these comments highlights just what a difference you are making in your school and the wider cluster. Mauri ora.

  3. Kia ora Simon,
    Fantastic that you are sharing the successes you have seen with blogging and especially blog commenting. Great to celebrate these successes and they are a real encouragement to other classes in clusters where they are not quite at the same stage as you. I'm sure you will build on these successes as with your reflective attitude you will see the next steps. Thanks for also sharing your next challenge.

  4. Thank you for sharing your findings. It is great to see the engagement that you are achieving. In the spirit of asking a question: Do you think it is viable for parents to be commenting on all blogging? Education is changing but people's lifestyles and work commitments are not. Are we setting up unrealistic expectations?

    Thank you for sharing your practice?

    1. Hi Allen, thanks for your comment. Do I think that it is viable for parents to be commenting on every post a child blogs, no. But we will be encouraging them to. Our next step is to teach the parents/caregivers how to follow a blog and how to comment on a post. We will also be sharing student voice with them about impact commenting has on them. This is a great way to connect with our community. We still have a long way to go, but I am excited about this process and the challenges ahead of us.

  5. Thank you Simon for sharing this wonderful reflection. I can vouch for everything that Simon has written. I have seen first-hand the increased levels of engagement and motivation in Ako Ngatahi and children's willingness to be actively involved in the writing process. This is truly transformational.

  6. Hi Simon! Thanks for sharing your reflection. I teach at a Manaiakalani School (Pt England) in Auckland and this year am working on an inquiry looking to engage parents and whanau with their childs blogs as a way to motivate my learners in writing. I can totally relate to your post and have really enjoyed reading the thoughtful comments your learners are now leaving.

    1. Hi Karen. Thanks for your comment. I would be really interested in reading through you inquiry. Do you have a blog to follow with information about your inquiru?

  7. Hi Simon. I really enjoyed reading your reflection on how blogging has changed your class' approach to writing and punctuation and sharing their work. Obviously the set up you put in place when introducing blogging has paid off. Just to clarify, did you start off with a class blog and then transition to individual blogs?

    1. Hi Melutlater, thanks for your comment. we have been running a class blog with this group of children successfully since the beginning of 2015 and not so successfully half way through 2014. I believe that this has been crucial to the success of there individual blogs as they were aware of the world wide and authentic audience. We would celebrate significant milestones like 10,000 hits or visits from another country.

  8. Kia ora Simon
    This is a gem and everyone at Edmund Hillary will benefit from your sharing.
    Grateful thanks. Kia kaha tonu.

  9. Kia ora Simon, it was great to read your reflection and I especially liked the comment you've included from whanau. It's great for our tamariki to have an authentic audience. Our students have recently started their individual blogs so I'm hoping we also see an increased level of engagement from our learners and our whanau.

  10. Kia ora Simon.
    I really enjoy your blog posts and what you share about your journey and the learning journey of your students. We have had quite a focus on blog commenting and have also seen very pleasing progress in student writing. I must say that you mahi is where we got the inspiration from.
    Thanks for sharing.


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