We are bloggers. > History: The blog activity could replace a diary. > Enjoy and achieve > Make a positive contribution

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1 Unit 5.3 We are bloggers Media reviews 1 About this unit Software: WordPress / Blogger / learning platform blogging tool or similar (also, GIMP, Audacity, Windows Movie Maker (Windows XP), Windows Live Movie Maker (Windows Vista and 7)) Outcome: Online blog, comprising a number of posts, some of which include additional media Introduction Blogging, and other Web 2.0 tools, has transformed the web into a medium that allows all to share their insights and experience with a wide audience. For school children, this means that the work they create need no longer just be for themselves, for you, or even for one another; it can have a worldwide audience. Reading and commenting on the work of others extends the children s sense of being members of a learning community beyond the confines of the school. In this unit, children will create their own blog, with images, videos and hyperlinks, comment on other blogs and respond to comments on their blog. Assessment This unit covers AF1 and AF3. For a more detailed analysis of the assessment focuses addressed and suggestions for progression, please see page 28. Curriculum and Framework links Primary Framework > Literacy: Non-fiction Persuasive writing ICT PoS > Finding things out (1a) > Exchanging and sharing information (3b) > Reviewing, modifying and evaluating work as it progresses (4a) Suggested subject links > Literacy: If interpreted in a broader context of media literacy, children could blog reviews of books, films, television, drama, computer games or other media. > Literacy: There are opportunities to explore and extend the children s work in persuasive writing and to create a blog from the perspective of a character in a book read in class. > History: The blog activity could replace a diary or journal activity, e.g. the blog of an evacuee, chimney sweep, etc. Every Child Matters > Enjoy and achieve > Make a positive contribution Learning expectations Children look at examples of blogs and then use online tools to create their own. By the end of this unit, children will have achieved the following learning objectives: > Become familiar with blogs as a medium, including an understanding of the particular features of this as a genre of writing > Create a sequence of blog posts on a particular theme or topic > Incorporate additional media, such as audio or video > Comment critically on the posts of others > Develop a critical, reflective view of a range of media, including text Variations to try > While the focus of the unit is on text as a medium for communication, this unit might be successfully tackled using audio or video as alternative media. > The unit could form part of a wider project exploring journals and diaries. > An alternative approach would make use of blogging as a platform for documenting the class s shared experience of school, or within the context of a particular topic or subject. 24

2 2 Getting ready Things to do > Read the Core section of Running the task on pages > Choose a suitable blogging platform (see Useful links for more information on a range of blogging tools). Check whether your school s learning platform includes a suitable blog tool. > Look at software tutorials. WordPress: WordPress_Lessons Blogger: If using your school s learning platform, read or watch any tutorials provided. > Spend 60 minutes familiarising yourself with the software / tools that are most accessible / appropriate for use with your class. > Read the Extensions section of Running the task on pages Do you want to use any of the extras provided? > If children s work is to be accessible on the open web, brief parents on the project and obtain their consent, if this is required by school policy. Things you need > Book the laptop trolley or ICT suite, if necessary. > If using WordPress (or a similar platform), arrange for it to be installed on your school s web server. > Ensure that blogging software is accessible to individual children and that any necessary security / e-safety features are in place. > If possible, create children s individual accounts on the blogging platform. > Identify a few relevant blogs for the class to view. > Install suitable image, audio and video editing software, as necessary. > Book or borrow microphones and video recording hardware. Useful links Before you start, you might want to refer to these weblinks. > WordPress is an open source blogging platform. It may be installed on a school web server. See to download. > If installing WordPress to a school webserver, the WordPress Multi Site and BuddyPress implementations are worth investigating. WordPress blogs may be hosted for free at and among other providers. > Blogger, provided by Google, is free, but requires e-safety > If your learning platform has a blogging tool, it is likely to restrict access to other members of the school or, perhaps, other children within the local authority. If you set up your blogging software on a web server or use an external blogging platform, a range of options will be available. > Allowing class access only for blogs is safest. > If you or your class maintain a publicly readable blog, extreme care should be taken to ensure no personal identifying details are made public, and that comments are moderated by you before they are published or seen by the children. > This unit provides an opportunity to discuss digital footprints and what sort of information is safe to post beyond the school community. > The class should also be briefed on how to respond appropriately to others posts. Think about > There are many examples of children, classes and teachers engaging in blogging. Use Google Search (google.com) and Google Blog Search (blogsearch.google.com) to find a few interesting examples relevant to your own context. > This project would work well as part of a twinning or partnership project with another class or school, perhaps abroad. > EAL children could read blogs in their first language. Google Translate (translategoogle.com) may be used to provide access to blogs written in other languages. > Childrens blogs can be maintained from any computer (or mobile phone) with an Internet connection. > A shared class blog allows you to share the best examples of the children s blogs while avoiding the need to provide direct access to them. children to have their own Google accounts. Accounts can be created at It would be wise to disable the random blog button for e-safety reasons if using Blogger. > See your learning platform provider s homepage for details of their blog service, if available. > Introduction to blogging in the classroom: www. teachers.tv/videos/blogosphere. 25

3 3 Running the task We are bloggers Software: WWordPress / Blogger / learning platform blogging tool or similar (also, GIMP, Audacity, Windows Movie Maker (Windows XP), Windows Live Movie Maker (Windows Vista and 7)) Outcome: Online blog, comprising a number of posts, some of which include additional media Core Extensions Step 1 > Begin with a discussion about children s diaries, or other examples of their writing for pleasure. Ask if they know anything about blogging. > Provide the class with a few carefully chosen examples of blogs, perhaps related to their interests or from others of their age, including class blogs. Ask them to work in groups to identify common characteristics, and collate these on the interactive IWB. Discuss how the blog authors had a specific audience in mind as they were writing and show how their wording reflects this. > Encourage children to provide comments on some of the blogs that they read here, particularly if these have been written by other children. > Children might find it interesting to compare blogs with other media, particularly for coverage of news stories of interest to them. > Discuss the use of other media, including illustrations, within the blogs, and the presentation of the blog as a webpage. > Ask the class to think of ideas for the subject of their first blog post. Step 2 > Model the management of a blog page (perhaps with your personal, or class, blog). Brief children on the e-safety aspects of the unit (see e-safety). > The children write their first posts. Encourage them to adopt a style appropriate for the audience they expect to read their work, and to strive for interesting, reflective content, which goes beyond the merely descriptive. Stress the need for the children to take great care with spelling and grammar. > If writing reviews of books or other media, children might be invited to post their reviews to Amazon, Google Books or, if the facility is available, the school library catalogue. > If children have access to page layout options, they might like to explore adding appropriate sidebar content to their blog, such as links to their friends blogs. Many bloggers maintain a blogroll on their blog of those blogs they regularly follow themselves. Your children may wish to do the same. > Show the children how to insert hyperlinks into their posts, and ask them to link to appropriate content elsewhere, such as the relevant page on Amazon, or Google Books in the case of a book review. 26

4 Step 3 > The children compose further blog posts on the chosen topic. They illustrate these with appropriate images. Some may wish to source images from the Web (remind children to cite the author or the work). Others may use their own photographs or scanned work (these children should use image editing software such as the GIMP to enhance the quality of their own pictures, if appropriate). Again, the emphasis should be on creating illustrated blog posts that will be interesting to the anticipated audience. Step 4 > Explore similarities and differences between blogs, podcasts and video diaries or journals with the children. > Invite children to outline or script an audio- or video-based entry for their blog. Once satisfied with their outlines, or scripts, the children should record their audio or video posts and use appropriate editing software (such as Audacity or Movie Maker) to develop or refine these. (The children might find it helpful to work in pairs or small groups for this step.) > The children upload their media to their blog, using embedding tools, if available, and provide some further discussion about the content of their audio or video entries. Step 5 > The children should spend time reading and commenting on one another s posts. Children could begin comments with a positive statement before asking a question to move the conversation within the blog forward. > Encourage children to write further posts for their own blog, commenting in greater depth on the ideas of others and including hyperlinks, where appropriate. They should also respond to the comments they receive. You should provide some comments yourself as feedback and for target setting, perhaps drawing on the Assessment guidance (see page 28). > Children respond to the self-assessment prompts on the Pupil Task Cards. > If multiple themes or designs are installed, some children might enjoy the opportunity to experiment with the visual presentation of their blog by trying alternative themes, or editing the settings, template or CSS (cascading style sheet) of a given theme, if possible. > Video might also be uploaded to YouTube, Schools Tube or other video-sharing sites, that provide their own embedded video players (the HTML code for which can be pasted within the blog). Uploading to YouTube or similar sites requires accounts to be created. (Parental permission may be necessary if children are shown in the videos.) YouTube s unlisted option prevents videos from being included in YouTube search results. > Encourage the children to add further entries and comments from home, if a computer is available. > Invite children to suggest which of their posts could be copied into a best of blog for the class as a whole, which would then be made publicly accessible. Ask children to suggest any aspects of the content that might need to be altered for a public audience. > Depending on the school s e-safety policy, children might like to comment on posts authored by others beyond the school community. 27

5 4 Assessment guidance Use the text below to relate the ICT skills children demonstrate to the assessment focuses and National Curriculum levels. AF1 Planning, developing and evaluating your work AF3 Finding, using and communicating information Children working at LEVEL 3 should be able to: > Plan their blog posts, taking into account the characteristics of the medium > Comment on others posts > Edit posts and media to refine and develop ideas and their presentation > Describe the common characteristics of blogs, blog posts and comments > Find related content, such as images, using straightforward searches > Present information using text, images and audio or video > Read and comment on others posts; respond to comments on their own posts > Contribute to a discussion about e-safety in relation to blogging Children working at LEVEL 4 should be able to: > Create a blog which effectively combines different media, such as text, links and images > Reflect on the quality of their own posts and provide feedback to others through comments > Explain some of the differences and similarities between their blog posts and those of other writers outside of school > Search for other content or additional information for their blog posts, checking this for plausibility and considering its appropriateness for their own blog > Present their blog in a way likely to engage the interest of a reader in the target audience > Use feedback from others to improve the quality of subsequent posts > Take e-safety issues into account and thus minimise risks when creating posts Progression The following units will allow your children to develop these skills further: > Unit 6.1 We are explorers > Unit 6.6 We are publishers 28

6 5 Taking it further When you ve finished, you might want to extend the project in the following ways. > There s much to be said for integrating the blogging task with other aspects of life within and beyond school. The media review task lends itself to this, with children providing reviews of fiction and non-fiction books used across the curriculum, as well as of videos watched together, of websites used as a resource for learning across the curriculum, or of any other media. This unit, if approached within the context of media reviews, seeks to encourage children to develop a more critical attitude towards the media to which they are exposed. > Blogs have wide applications across the curriculum, and the blogs created by children as part of this project might also be used for other units on a regular basis, or just as required. > Consider adapting the class blog created as an extension to this unit, or create a new blog, to serve as an online newsletter or shared portfolio of the children s work. > A school residential visit could provide material for a blog, allowing parents to read about their children s activities as they take place. > Children might be encouraged to maintain their blogs independently, particularly to maintain a portfolio of their independent learning within and beyond the school s curriculum. 6 Cross-curricular ideas Practical suggestions to bring this unit alive in the classroom. Classroom ideas > Printouts from the children s blogs might make an interesting display, although it may be better to copy and paste content from the blog to a word processing or desktop publishing program to obtain better control of print layout. > Children s blogs might be incorporated into a display of other media, including media reviews from the press or diaries. > Extracts from blogs might make interesting content for a class assembly. > The images, audio and media included in the blogs might be based on other classroom activities. Visits > A relevant educational visit might provide useful source material for a blog post, or a series of posts. Books > Mack, J. (2009). Journals and Blogging. Raintree. > Mackall, D. D. (2006). Just Jazz (and other titles in the Faithgirlz! / Blog On! series). Zonderkidz. > Royston, A. (2010). Space Blog. A. & C. Black Publishers Ltd. Weblinks A range of weblinks to fuel future blogs: > Current affairs: cbbcnews/. > Film: > Children s books: 29

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