I wrote a piece for Education Week Teacher in the fall about student blogging. (It was pretty good if I do say so myself. Check it out HERE.) in prepping to write it, I sent out a couple tweets to find out what types of student blogging projects other educators were running. I got some helpful and exciting responses, but none as intriguing as the one I got from ICT Coordinator and Class 1 teacher Camilla Mercer of Norbridge Academy in Nottinghamshire, England.
— Engaging Educators (@engaginged) November 14, 2012
So intriguing, in fact, that I extended a rare guest blogging invitation to Camilla to describe her school’s 24-hour blogathon, which is pretty much as amazing and awesome as it sounds. But I’ll let her do the telling…
Norbridge Academy (norbridge.org and norbridgeblogs.net) has recently invested in 30 iPads, theoretically 6 per class for y2-y6. This is in order to more easily enable children to blog as a way of improving standards in writing, as detailed in our school development plan. As ICT Coordinator, I wanted teachers to be able to plan the iPads into lessons across the curriculum, so that there could be either one iPad per table or a whole group of children using them, primarily to blog, at any one time. We already have laptops which are fine but must be shared and timetabled across the school and I prefer the immediacy and accessibility of iPads for blogging.
As a way of raising the profile of our school blogs, which were created a year ago, the head teacher George Huthart decided to hold a 24 hour blogathon, inviting all year 6 children to sleep in school and to be blogging virtually (sleep-allowing!) continuously from 9am Tuesday 13th November to 9am today, Wednesday 14th. The year 6 class teacher and 2 teaching assistants volunteered to stay in school to staff the event. (It is possibly worth mentioning that we do camping nights every months, where children bring tents & camp on the school field. These events are staffed by teachers & TA’s and are always well over subscribed, staff at Norbridge are happy to volunteer free time for events such as these). All 4 staff then worked as normal throughout the day today.
For the blogathon, all 30 iPads were pooled together. Children were given some freedom as to what to blog about as well as some directed/suggested topics or themes. Each child had 1:1 access to an iPad, as well as laptops if/when an iPad need charging. The class 6 blog, like most of our school blogs, has a visitor and flag counter, and children were motivated by tracking the visitors to their blog. On a very large world map in class 6, children stuck pins showing where visitors were based, frequently excitedly seeking out staff to inform them of a ‘hit’ from a new country or region.
During the blogathon the 4 adults who stayed in school were kept extremely busy moderating and approving both posts and comments. Staff including myself logged in from home to try to ease the backlog as children’s writing kept stacking up. The majority of school staff are on Twitter and we all used this as our primary mode of publicity. Many individuals and organisations have been extremely supportive.
Considering the duration of the event I was astounded by the quality of much of the writing being produced, and certain posts rightly received some quality and thought-provoking comments from around the world. Comments and flags are still rolling in, 21 countries at last count.
Huge thanks to Camilla for sharing her story. What an amazing endeavor! Be sure to check out the students’ blogathon posts (and their posts from a SECOND blogathon!) and leave comments as well. And follow Camilla on Twitter @CCMercer.