Over the past few years I have been a big fan of pupils blogging, both internally through our VLE system and publicly. I have seen some major benefits in learning and I want to share with you some of the key reasons you should start, and maybe a few tips to help you on your way. There can be some pit falls, but when it work it WORKS! Lets go through some of the reasons you should start:

Helps to develop writing skills

Obviously writing a blog will give pupils opportunity to improve the quality of their writing. If the topic of the blog is something they are interested in mean they will get passionate about what they write. With peers in their classroom looking at their blogs it will give them responsibility over what they write. Adding a rating system will also improve this. Do people like what they are writing? What could they do to improve? Speaking to pupils about putting their work publicly online can also be an inspiration for improved writing. Let them know the whole world could see it, is it good enough for that?

Showcase for pupils work

Giving pupils a blog gives them an open forum to share their world worldwide (potentially!). Often when pupils complete work in the classroom that’s where it stays, not even parents know what has been going on until parents evening! With a blog pupils can post their work and their audience knows no bounds. It could be a simple as the class next door, to schools on the other side of the world. If you make comments available it also allows for these schools to leave feedback on your children’s work, a different look at peer assessment.  when a child receives a positive comment on their blog it goes far beyond anything I could say as their teacher!

Encourages independent thinking

Blogging in the classroom can really inspire pupils to become independent in their learning and thinking. When they are able to publish what they have an interest in they take ownership of the quality of their work. They take the lead when finding the required information, think about how they want to present their work, and what they want to include in their posts.

Inspires learning 

Using a blog in your class allows for teaching and learning to take place simultaneously with your pupils. By using research skills, multimedia posts, instant feedback and comments your pupils are teaching others around them as well as learning without realising it! If you train your pupils to leave good questions and effective feedback on posts, you are allowing pupils to take on the role of student and teacher.

Engages with your wider community

With OFSTED taking a greater look at how your school gets involved with the local community a blog is a great start. You could start blogging to other classes in your school, posts to parents, communicating and sharing work with other schools around you. Get comments back from parents and people who live in the area. Linking your blog on your school website is a great way to ensure you get traffic.

 

Now here are a few quick tips to make your blog successful: 

  1. Use a wide range of media in your posts, not just text
  2. Find a platform that is easy and engaging for your pupils, do they want to use it?
  3. Connect your blog to your school website
  4. Start up links with other classes and schools
  5. Stick with it, it might take some time to take off
  6. End your post with a question to encourage comments and feedback
  7. Teach them how to use the platform before you go public.
  8. Tell parents about the project, get them involved early. Its more than likely they will be the ones commenting to begin with!
  9. Gets pupils to look at other blogs for inspiration
  10. Teach pupils about the importance of drafting, then posting.

 

I hope that’s enough to get you started, and has given you some ideas to try out with your class. If you think I’ve missed something, or have a specific question please get in touch, I love a comment as much as the kids do!

 

 

I think it’s fair to say that I am a MASSIVE Google Sketchup fan. I try to use it with as many topics as I can,  and like to get my pupils started with it as soon as possible. As a teaching tool it is fantastic for motivating pupils and get them excited about ICT, they are mesmerized by the ease in which they can create 3D shapes. Due to its nature the program can be used in all manner of topic, from creating vivid art galleries of their work, recreating Viking villages, or designs for a new space station. It’s really is up to you how far, and in which direction, you want to take your pupils with it.

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‘The Lego Bricks of learning’

 

Often to get pupils started I like to give them something the love. A Lego Brick. We loved them, parents love them (except when the get stood on) and our kids will love them. this little brick of coloured plastic can provide that real and tactile connection with the work on their screens.

They key factor in having the pupils create model Lego brick is the tools they use. It touches on most of the features, and uses them in a nice and simple way. It basically sets them up for using the product in future. Get the pupils to snap the top circle the same height, use the rendering tool, add 3D text, all useful in future projects.

The Google Sketchup way of thinking

 

When my pupils come into a Sketchup lesson they know that they have to change their mind-set. They know they should start thinking differently about their work. When trying to create something, or trying to add something they know that they are not going to get it looking prefect, but should aim for something that looks similar. Pupils can get easily bogged down in trying to achieve perfection in their models and miss out.

If you haven’t used Google Sketchup in the classroom yet give it a go, but be prepared to do some homework, it’s tricky for teachers to learn, never mind pupils! Before long your pupils will be creating wonderful graphic models really to be explored and manipulated.

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A model of our ICT suite created by Year 6 pupils

Below I have included a lesson plan and accompanying PowerPoint for your 1st lesson teaching the topic. Any questions or hints please get in touch.

1st Sketchup Lesson Plan

1st Sketchup Lesson PPT

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