Miss Ash's Learning Journey

My personal reflections of teaching and learning today

PARTs and Blogging


Week 8

Spent most of my time resonding to Chris and Rebecca’s comments on my previous posts.

Blogging is a great opportunity to share opinions and the blogging my students have done recently supports this.

Definitely finding having a class blog is more beneficial than a level one and yes I think individual ones would be even better BUT at the moment I think developing our class blog is proving beneficial as the students are learning different aspects of posting like adding photos and tags and categorising.  I’m also not willing to compromise my teaching at this point because I’m overwhelmed trying to help 25 students manage individual blogs. It’s something I will work towards.

Now that the students have had more exposure to blogging and we have set high standards for publishing I’m finding the work they post is of a much higher quality than what they do in their books. Thus it will be a great source of evidence for their literacy skills and we are already using the process of accepting posts as a teaching opportunity with individual students. Because of this there is not a lot of written feedback by the teachers on the blog because we have been doing in verbally with the students and it is proving very successful because they now want help to get their work ‘publishable’. I’m really glad we did set high standards for what would be approved from the start.

I hate that I do sometimes have editing mistakes in my own posts but unlike the students I don’t have the time or opportunity to get someone else to check it for me and I find that I don’t really even have time to type in word and then cut and paste into the blog like we suggest they do (since the blog doesn’t have editing tools). I would love someone to have to read and approve my posts before they go up rather than have someone point out mistakes after I’ve posted!

At the moment my focus for the students is to encourage them to think of different ways they would like to use the blog. We did some research on this and many wanted to see a section with biographies so we’ve been working on biographies of politically important people (linked to our Civics and Citizenship topic) which they are so engaged in (amazingly engaged in actually) and they can’t wait to research and work on these so that they can add them to the blog!


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PARTs and Blogging


Week 7

Spent PARTs time researching learning intention and success criteria so that when I introduced success criteria formally into the classroom. I will hopefully get time to blog about this research soon as it was quite useful!

Read other teachers blogs (from around the world) looking for ways to use our class blog differently.

Started adding St E’s blogs on netvibes individually since for some reason it won’t let me upload the whole list.


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Our Own Class Blog


This week we developed our own class blog and it has definitely been more successful than having a level blog in that the teacher has a lot more ownership over what goes on the blog but perhaps more importantly so do the students. So this time we got to chose a theme that suited our needs. The class agreed that the important things were that its visual but doesn’t overload you, that multiple posts were visible on the home page and that pages, catergories and tags were easy to find.


We chose a theme that allows a picture for each post – after all a picture tell a thousand words! This also allows two very important teaching points;

a) The use of other peoples images and copyright laws

b) How to chose an image that adds to the message of your post.

I’ve also learnt a lot more having my own class blog than I did having a teacher blog or a shared blog for multiple reasons. Having a shared blog was actually quite intimidating especially with various administrators with a range of ability. I didn’t feel confident to make my own posts, I didn’t feel comfortable taking risks and making the mistakes I needed to in order to learn best. I also didn’t feel like I had any ownership of it, I felt like I was being allowed to borrow someone else’s property.

When we did try something new we decided the blog needed a theme where multiple posts were visiable (so that your post didn’t dissapear as soon as a new one was posted), but this was changed by another group focusing of another outcome and so we (the students were very quick to comment on this being change) lost much of our connection to the blog. After that I didn’t really feel like we could change anything. To be honest I would have started our own blogs a lot sooner but for some reason I didn’t think we were allowed to.

Another reason having class blogs works better is that teachers do present similar topics in very different ways and it allows us to do that and allows us to include posts relevant to what we have been discussing. With four class groups trying to do that there was so much information being uploaded all the time that it was confusing for students. Now that they have had more exposure they are exploring a lot more and starting to look at the other class blogs which means we should end up getting a bit more feedback. The quadblogging should have done this but their were technical difficulties like not being able to comment from an ipad and if the other schools are busy that week, you just miss out.

I think having my own teaching and learning blog didn’t teach me as much about blogging as a class blog because the learning about blogging was secondary to what was written on the blog; the learning and teaching of the studnets and teacher.

Given all this, I think the next step would be to encourage students in the class to upload their own posts, which some of them are starting to work on and eventually for students to create their own blogs.

I’m also going to email the blog address to all my teacher friends at other schools and encourage them to visit our blog and leave us feedback.


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Where We are Up to


Students at this stage need to be putting their work on line but they are not ready to publish.

We are working towards publishing in a class book first.

After that we will announce that they will publish this work on line. We want to see if they choose to alter their work, change or improve it before posting it on the class blog. This will tell us if they consider publishing onloine different to publishing for the classroom.

Hopefully they will then receive feedback from the blog post. We will then be able to observe if they make changes to their published work on line.

4SGK have told their students that they can publish at the AuthorCircle stage so that their feedback is given online. This gives us the opportunity for us compare student learning between the  working copy and the final published work when

a) The feedback is given in class with four other students through AuthorCircle


b) The feedback is given online hopefully from at least four readers (be they students from our school, others schools, parents or teachers.

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Draft Timetable


Week 6

Learning Intention: use a picture prompt to write a descriptive text.

Tasks: Powerful Paragraphs using a picture prompt (5 images across the level).

Students select what picture they will use for the task.

1)Challenge-option of choosing a picture with a set task or working independently.

2)Independent– picture prompt with matching written task already set.

3)Support- Using a picture prompt, writer’s notebook process(Think, feel, see, wonder).

Week 7

  •  Author Think Process based on their powerful paragraph.
  • Model a powerful paragraph with students and use the Author Think process with the students)
  • Ensure students have their own copy with correct colour codes.

Week 8

  • Importance of feedback
  • Brainstorm with students a variety of ways used to gather feedback. (Include the use of a blog)
  • Students pose questions about their powerful paragraph to be answered by outside sources.
  • Students create a post for the level blog including their powerful paragraph for feedback from outside sources (Quad Blogging).

Week 9

  • Students reflect on feedback from their post on the blog.
  • Students make changes to their powerful paragraph based on feedback received.


Reflection : Questionnaire/student survey on motivation and feelings towards writing?

Evidence: originally published piece of writing (after AuthorThink) vs. what is published to the blog vs. republished piece after online feedback

Feedback provided from outside sources in their powerful paragraphs (screen shot if using iPads to access blog or print screen shot when using a laptop or computer


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Powerful Paragraph (using an image for inspiration)


Week 6

Learning Intention: use a picture prompt to write a descriptive text.

This is the image I’ve chosen. I thought it might be interesting to see if students are more inspired by a moving/animated picture.


animated falling snow photo: falling snow tree 27488-snow-falling-animated-wallpap.gif
Image care of photobucket
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Updating the Student Blog to support our PARTs


During team discussions we realised if we wanted to publish student work we would need to dedicate a page to each activity and this meant we needed a theme that supported multiple page if not unlimited. We found a different style that we think supports the students better as more posts are visible at a time (rather than having to scroll all the way done). We helped each other to work out how to add pages which we have left ‘under construction’ because we don’t want the students to know that they will be publishing their writing online (yet).

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Creative Thinking


I had already identified that one of the problems with our question was going to be how to be show that ‘online publishing’ is what improved the student learning. Thankfully Rebecca Gage thought about it and came up with a solution. Which I guess just goes to prove the value of collaborative learning!

So our first research activity is to have the students publish a piece of work using Lane Clark’s AuthorThink process. The students will not be told that it will be published on the blog until after the AuthorThink process is complete. If they make any changes to their work from then on then asking them to publish online will have challenged them further than the Authorthink process did.

The downside is that the better job we do of teaching the AuthorThink process and the better the student learning is during this process, the learning that occure between that and students publishing online may be limited. However, by publishing on the blog we open their work up to more outside feedback which then allows a much greater variety of feedback than from one AuthorCircle and one teacher doing the Outside Edit.

The greatest potential for learning may not actually be in publishing their own work but in having the opportunity be exposed to a variety of ideas that came from the same prompt and, having read these, not only in sharing their feedback but in being exposed to other students and other teachers feedback.

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PARTS 2013


What happens to student learning when they publish/share online?


PARTs Project – Professional research


This had some great ideas for how to use technology as learning tools including using online polls so students can answer difficult question or give controversial opinions without having to put their hands up.

I also thought it was important to not assume our students were ‘digital natives’ they DO need to be explicitly taught how to use different apps. Yes, they will learn lots of things about the app potentially more quickly than we will however we need to teach them how we want them to use the app in the first place.

Probably the most relevant part of this article for me was ‘Blogging to Improve Student Learning’ and I can see how posting working copies of student writing and asking for students to comment  using the Author Circle would be beneficial.

I do have a big concern with our question in that to provide evidence that ‘publishing online’ improves student learning we would need a comparison group where students didn’t publish online. But that is not something I want to do within our school so really we have to look at whether publishing online improves student motivation.

Technology is a learning tool. At a very very simple level it’s kind of like saying writing on a whiteboard  (in comparison to a blackboard) improves learning. It’s certainly more practical and mor enjoyable to use. But does it actually improve the learning?

So, do we need to change our question to
How does publishing online improve student motivation and engagement?

This would link in really well with publishing working copies of narratives online and asking for feedback.

Our data then needs to be a survey of how students feel about writing. And our questions need to be very specific and possibly with a scale for students to answer.


Do you like writing?        No      Sometimes      Yes

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