Tuesday, 25 March 2008

School blogs and students as teachers,

It's just great to see more and more schools developing their own blogs and using them in so many ways, communicating with students, staff and the wider community, celebrating students' work, as a learning tool for students and as an online diary of the school year.

George Town Primary School is the latest school in Cayman to 'go live' and as always with Principal; Marie Martin, they have started, and I know will continue, with real enthusiasm. Importantly students are contributing to the blog and by linking with other schools internationally, the blog becomes a real learning tool for students and staff.

They just have so much more immediacy, impact, relevance and excitement than other ways of recording knowledge and are much more appealing to students. Blogs also do, of course, continue to their develop students' ICT skills (as well as literacy and other skills).

What is really fun is that many staff still do not know how to set up a blog or post an entry. Students teaching teachers is just a great experience and confidence builder for these young people, and also lets them see teachers in a new light. For the teacher to be a learner, taught by students, no matter how young, should also be a really positive experience!

It certainly worked for me as a Headteacher a few years ago when I wanted to 'jazz up' a PowerPoint and make it really eye catching and 'sexy'. I asked my Head of ICT for some tips, she replied that she would send the best person in our large comprehensive school. When they arrived shortly later, I found my self looking at a Year 7 Special Needs student - his ICT prowess was amazing, after after listening to what I wanted, and looking at me in pity, he proceeded to guide and coach me to do just what I wanted. I used him a lot - and he was just brilliant at this aspect of his work.

Apart from me really developing my own skills, it also got me to challenge a lot of staff on what we were doing to support him, so he could use these skills to achieve far higher grades than he was geting at the time. Guess what - it worked and he even became an early entry student for external exams achieving A grades! But why did I have to ask the question and challenge - why hadn't someone else picked up on it as soon as he entered the school?

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