I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I think that blogging is one of the most exciting areas where technology is supporting teaching & learning. One of the best educational bloggers around, ‘Deputy Mitchell‘ (as he is known on Twitter) came up with the idea of ‘Quadblogging‘ when contacted by schools near him who weren’t getting nearly as much traffic to their class blogs as he was . Here is a description from the Quadblogging website:
Imagine four schools that had a partnership/agreement that would mean that for a four week cycle, each school’s blog would be the focus for one week out of four. Each school in the Quad would spend some time visiting the blog of the school for that week, leave comments etc. After that week, another one of the four schools would be the focus and this would be repeated for the four week cycle and then repeated. It wouldn’t take the pupils long to work out that during their week, they would get a boost in visitor numbers and comments. This would give a real focus to have posts online ready for this bulge in visits. During the other three weeks, pupils get to visit and comment on other blogs in their quad. Pupils being pupils, they would also venture out of the quads and visit other blogs that are linked.
This is a great idea for those schools who have a public blog where they showcase children’s work (the majority of which seem to be primary schools which is interesting).
I was thinking, though, that this principle could also be applied within a large secondary school. Different departments could create their own subject-related blogs and link up with each other for pupils to comment on each others’ work – a great opportunity for cross-curricular links. Alternatively, a creative writing blog could be set up by an English teacher with work by different year groups – the pupils in different year groups could then comment on each others’ work.
The possibilities for peer assessment and deeper learning are vast when you start to think about it.
What’s good about the Quadblogging idea is that each blog is the focus for a whole week – encouraging the pupils to really think about their work and be proud that it’s ‘out there’ for people to see – rather than just ‘hoping’ that someone will read what they’ve written.
I can see this taking off! Do visit the Quadblogging website if you want to sign up your school to join in with others. Do let me know what you think about this idea of trying it out within a school – I’d love to find out if it would work!
I asked David Mitchell on Twitter if he had any secondary school examples of quadblogging and he shared this with me:
Quad blogging in secondary schools
This is taken from this blog post.
Nice idea, but sadly there would be a lot of negative comments, borderline bullying, and problems with staff having to moderate it at all times to remove offensive posts quickly. That’s why it’s more common in primaries, ‘cos generally the kids aren’t as nasty to each other when it is public and written down. Inter-school would work better, ‘cos the kids don’t know each other and therefore only comment on the work, without it bringing all the baggage of the author themselves.
Teachers do get attacked by parents if we subject their children to ridicule/bullying, and therefore it’s not worth the risk.
Ironically, this kind of thing might work better in low achieving rather than high achieving schools.
Thanks for commenting Angie. I think if you develop the right kind of culture in a school you can quickly clamp down on the negative behaviours you describe. The Primary school blogs I referred to are public (rather than only viewable in school) and are largely commented on by adults – the kids are always thrilled when a grown up says something nice about their work!
I know that lots of schools that use Frog (where I work so I’m flagging a vested interest here!) use student ‘wardens’ to monitor bad behaviour online (just as a prefect system might be used to stop bad behaviour in playgrounds etc.) Comments on blogs can always be identified as they are date stamped with the name of the person and the time – so it would be easy to quickly discipline the student who did such a thing (or remove privileges like social networking features). Also, if the comments are then used for further discussion in the classroom then it’s all the better. I know one Frog school where a student wrote ‘I hate science’ on a forum. The teacher, rather than discipline the child, flagged it up in a lesson and they discussed what they did and didn’t like about their lessons, helping the teacher to identify where he wasn’t connecting with the class.
I like the idea of doing quadblogging between different schools as well as you say, if you don’t know the person you would be less likely to be nasty.
If I were setting it up within a school, however, I would get the students at the outset to write an AUP – Acceptable Use Policy – outlining what would and would not be an acceptable thing to put in a comment on a post and outlining the sanctions if those rules were broken.
I have to disagree! I find it in my experience that excuses are made by Secondary Schools to not engage in Blogging. I know things are very different in Secondary Schools for example: Curriculum and timetabling issues and more mature pupils who will act less mature than Primary aged pupils. There are many Quads of Secondary Schools participating in QuadBlogging successfully. In my experience, most of the work done on pupil blogs are done outside of school. If you take a look here at my last years Year 6 blog: http://y62011.heathfieldcps.net I can tell you that over 80% of blog posts were done from home with some Year 6 boys writing 60,000 plus words in just one academic year. How could this not be beneficial to Secondary pupils? Simply dismissing it before even trying it is simply not good enough! Sometimes, to make a difference you have to try something different. If you do what you always do, you will get what you always get. Secondary schools must look at what Primary schools are doing more closely!
The statement about it working in low achieving schools rather than high achieving schools is not what I have seen working in my experience either. My more able pupils have taken to blogging much more naturally than the lower ability pupil. The culture has changed now and most if not all pupils are now blogging through the entire school.
Don’t dismiss it… Consider it!
[…] comment on it. If you would like to use blogging with students for peer assessment, consider trying quadblogging. The two main blogging platforms I would recommend are WordPress and Posterous. Both platforms […]
I agree! I would love to get involved in a blog with my pupils (an all boys school) who could really benefit from such a programme. Please let me know if you are interested!
Also, please let me know if you have any tips on starting a blog.