Once again, time has got away on me! A combination of reports, ERO and illness have taken their toll. Today I have taken another of my Teacher Release Days which seems to be the only effective way to find some time and space to focus and reflect on my e-fellowship project.
We are now in the final leg, with the official project time coming to an end this week. I am aiming to get mt students to complete a second survey, getting them to reflect on the impact blogging has had on their writing, if it has helped with motivation an in any way, and if it has helped to improve their outcomes. It is odd, in some ways this hasn't really felt like a project at all, the blogs are simply just another way that the students get on with doing what they do.
So have the blogs made a difference? It is hard to say. One thing I have noticed it that it seems a little easier for the students to keep on top of their formative writing, the fact that the blog requires so little follow through on their part does seem to make it a rather ideal medium for teenagers. One student who has lost her English exercise book was rather heartened that her online work was safe - although this may not be a feature that seemed that pertinent at the outset, it certainly is useful when your physical stuff gets lost.
One real advantage that I can see for these students is the actual portfolio of writing they are building. Whilst it may not seem that much of an advantage at this point in the year, I get the sense that the students who have completed their formative work as blogs will have a much better archive of their work to come back to in those final weeks before the external exams. Most of the students who have completed their formal essays this way have in fact completed all of their practice essays on their blog. I have also heard anecdotal evidence that the bloggers are increasingly reading a range of each others work before completing their own. I am trying to encourage them to comment on one anothers work. This still remains an area that could be improved upon next year.
So how would I do this differently next year? Well I would definitely continue with the class wikis. Whilst I sometimes feel that a lot of the students don't take full advantage of the class wikis, there is no doubt that it provides the ones who do use them with great support and extension. The area I would like to improve upon is the initial set up of the blogs. I would definitely fight for their blogs being unblocked at school, this would make the initial set up much easier, and it would also allow for more guidance in the outset. I get the sense that greater support at the beginning, opportunities in class time to read and complete peer feedback would have established behaviours that they would have then continued at home. Also, I believe if they had got the exposure at school far more would have participated.
I guess, as this part of the project comes to a close, I do believe the use of wikis and blogs do indeed have a positive impact on the formative writing. The final step will be looking at the surveys the students will complete this week, and to to a certain extent the proof will be in the exam pudding at the end of the year!