Today’s blog post will explore how science teacher Mr Matt Nicoll has implemented class blogs to record key learning moments that his students can refer back to at anytime.
Already a regular blogger over here, Mr Nicoll started to explore what impact it might have for his students if there was a class blog targeted directly at them, recording their key notes and concepts. His rationale was surprisingly simple:
If students knew they had full access to correct and accurate notes, they would spend less time copying, more time listening to crucial explanations and demonstrations, which would lead into greater focus and accuracy when they conducted their own experiments.
One of the class blogs he is most happy with is the one for his Yr11 Level 1 Science class. When we sat down together to talk about his classroom blogs, Mr Nicoll made the pleasant realisation that the last few entries had been made by his students who were creating collaborative study notes from the lessons. This is a tremendous example of self-directed learning by the students and he partly attributes it to their increased engagement through the use of technology.
Another obvious appeal is the videos that Mr Nicoll records of his key teaching moments. An example is the following
- Firstly, the experiments are conducted:
- Secondly, a summary of the learning is provided:
So, at an NCEA level where there is increased emphasis on assessment and credits by students it works really well. How about at a junior level? Mr Nicoll’s Yr9 Science class blog looks and feels similar to his senior classes, but one noticeable difference is more “snapshots” of the whiteboard and the notes taken there. An example would be:
Similar to his explanation with Yr12 students, Mr Nicoll explains that less time copying some of this information, combined with making it freely available “anytime, anywhere” means his students spent more time conducting hands on science experiments.
The class blog lets me scaffold and differentiate my lessons better because both the students and I know that the key material is available to them on the blog.
In saying this, Mr Nicoll is realistic about Yr9 students and the need to maintain effective classroom management – it’s not simply sitting at his laptop blogging all lesson!
I might start the upload of the video from the key teaching moment and then roam the class providing assistance to students. I often come across students accessing the video recorded earlier that lesson to review a point they may have missed or not fully understood the first time.
With all the apparent upsides, class site blogging is not without challenges. Having a trainee teacher in the class teaching a new unit of work has meant the blog has not always been actively updated. One potential solution considered by Mr Nicoll is to hand over the blogging responsibilities to a student on a rotating basis and getting them to add collaborative notes. Conversations with parents at recent parent-teacher interviews suggests this may even enhance the student engagement with the learning:
Talking with parents at the recent interviews, a number said their child used the 9A class blog for revision and assistance with homework. With this feedback I have been able to observe a connection between their revision and their test results and the quality of their homework submissions in Moodle
A later post will revisit Mr Nicoll’s teaching and use of blogs, particularly around how students were able to create their own site or blog to submit research assignments. Additionally, he will discuss how 1:1 computing in 2014 will impact on classroom teaching and learning for students. In the meantime, here is links to each of the class blogs: