"In terms of young children developing as writers this is the most interesting development in the last 20 years."
As a culmination of the Snapshots project and to authenticate the digital citizenship work we have just done, I signed up my Grade 7s to Quadblogging.
If my emphasise is that much of what they do and create is public, necessitating the need to be responsible in their posting, I need to give them an audience. All too often, we ask the learners to write a blog - but who sees it?
Ok, I do. But do they care about that really, beyond me being their teacher? I see all their writing - no big deal to them.
Parents? Some sign up but I have never yet seen a comment from one.
Hence Quadblogging. The programme was specifically set to up to provide audiences for learner blogs. Peer audiences. Authentic, real life and structured - making it a part of 21st century skill learning. Awesome!
I launched it with Grade 7 this week. They seemed very enthusiastic about linking up with schools from other countries - we have been linked up with Australia, the UK and America. They enjoyed looking at the blogs and got some great ideas about how we can organise our own blogs and what we can write on them - this being their major question. One of the reasons I signed my class up last in the cycle, was to give them the chance to read the other blogs - as the other bloggers are a lot more experienced than mine.
The freedom this gave them saw them quite hesitant at first, which I found interesting. They asked if I needed to check their comments before posting. They asked if they were allowed to leave voice mails. They seem to have been given too little freedom to get out into the world. I told them I trust them; we have done the learning, we've signed the pledge and agreed what it means to be responsible digital citizens; we've read and signed the guidelines and practised on paper. I think I am ready to let them go. I think they are eager to get out there and communicate with the world.
We are still ironing out details of what we want in our blog, which generated problems, as none have yet got their own blog - plus I saw the learners once this week again due to Eid holiday, and we are already a week behind the other schools involved as we were on term break. I have left a lot of it up to them - but then I guess, that is what this all about right? Initial decisions were that they wanted their own blogs - so we started the process of setting them up - then I will link to them from our main G7 blog. Overall though, I think it will be a great experience for them. I think they will, at least I very much hope they will, use this opportunity to really consider what they post and how they communicate with the world.