Monday, 25 November 2013

Using blogs instead of exercise books

Evidencing teaching and learning has always been an elephant-in-the-room for ICT\Computer Science lessons. I've seen (and tried) loads of techniques over the years but none of them provided the kind of in-depth evidence that I would be happy to show to an Ofsted inspector. 

Here are a few of the techniques I've seen used:

Annotating on electronic copies of students work: 
+ Students can see comments and respond to feedback. 
+ With good folder organisation students can have before and after copies of their work showing how your feedback has enabled them to make more progress.
+ Saves on printing (nice if you're supposed to be an eco-school).
- In most schools I've worked in students have very limited amount of space to store documents (50Mb?!?!). This makes it impossible for students to keep a record of your feedback for more than a couple of weeks.
- Student's can't take work they are proud of home to show their parents.
- Students file organisation is universally pretty useless so the chances that they'll be able to organise all their work and feedback over a term or year is pretty much 0.

Giving students exercise books: 
+ Somewhere to stick tracking sheets and target grades. 
Students can take them home to show parents if they're proud of their work.
+ Giving out books is a nice way to establish classroom routine and is a good job to give a student who struggles to settle down.
+ Easy to flick-and-tick if you just want to show students you have looked over their work.
- Student's work will be electronic most of the time. It should be, how much of most people's work takes place on paper these days?
- Printing work to stick in a book is expensive, takes a long time and is not very green.
- Student's work might want need to be formatted in different ways for printing. Normal view and Formula view in a spreadsheet for example. 
- Giving feedback should be a natural part of the lesson. Having to stop the class for 10 min every lesson (or whenever) wastes time that the students could spend learning.

+ Printing comments and levels on to stickers saves printing out every piece of work.
+ Stickers can be put in planners and referred back to during future lessons.
Students can write comments in their planners under stickers explaining how they will improve their work as a result of the feedback.
- Students can't see the work alongside the feedback and make a link between the two.
- Doesn't provide evidence of correct marking as HOD, SLT link etc can't see the work to which the comments and levels are applied.

VLE\ E-Portfolio:
I've never used a VLE that worked well enough for me to be able to co-ordinate all my KS3 student feedback. That said I hear that things have improved since I last tried to wrestle with one of these so please leave a comment if you've got strong feelings on them!

Not doing KS3 marking:
+ Saves a lot of time you can spend on other GCSE & A-Level marking.
- Students need feedback in order to progress. Otherwise it's not teaching, just students typing in the same room as you.

Why I want to give blogs a go:
+ I already use Google Apps so students can set up a blog using their school account.
+ Students can post presentations, videos, podcasts on their blog from Google Drive. Students currently have 30GB of space on the Google Drive!
+ By getting students to add me as an admin to their blog I can leave in-line comments /SP etc 
+ I can comment on posts made by students and they can respond to my comments creating a real dialogue charting their progress.
+ Students get e-mails when I comment so they know that I've given feedback and are encouraged to respond.
+ Blog posts automatically have a date and title so it's easy to see which post relates to which lesson or homework.
+ Students can't forget to bring their blog in!
+ Students can add work from any device with an internet connection and show their work to parents.
- Creating 600 blogs could be tricky. 
- Students need to set their blogs to private then add me and a class teacher as an admin. Faff.
- Staff need to keep track of their blog links. I imagine my blogger dashboard will be quickly overwhelmed by 600 blogs.

Leave comments on what you think to the idea and I'll post back when I've given it a go.

1 comment:

  1. I've considered this debate recently - I'm very fortunate to work at a school that has 1:1 iPad provision. The downsides for us are that writing is not massively intuitive on a touchscreen and, perhaps more importantly, it does not give students the practice to develop the handwriting skills which exams will demand.