Teenagers can blog. So how do we harness it?

July 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Digital Era, Twynham School 

As many of you know I am a big fan of twitter (you can find me @mikeherrity) and wrote a post on the value of it for teachers a while back which you can find here- To Twitter or not to twitter?  Now the ultimate dilemma for me on twitter is the arrival of students I teach. I managed 3 blissful months before the first one followed me and now there are at least 20 in my followers, mainly from the 6th Form. In the end I have decided on a policy of not blocking but not following back to avoid being rude but at the same time not encouraging them! That is I do not follow students except one who is the topic of my blog today.

The one student I do follow is slightly different in that is mum is my boss! As Head of History she has tended to to bring her son on the Battlefields trip regularly and he has somewhat entered the realm of ‘responsible adult’ even though I have taught him GCSE History. A while back this young man started blogging and every so often I would check out what he is writing. I did ask for permission from mum and indeed the young man himself before blogging about him.

My own experience of encouraging Secondary School students to blog has been really poor and I am sure that they way I have set it up is in large part why it has been largely unsuccessful. At the same time I have looked around to see what teenagers write in their spare time and found very little, almost all of which is fairly limited. I have therefore come up with a standard line which is ‘students cant blog’ and use it regularly (probably in defence of my inability to encourage students to blog). Reading Stephen’s blog yesterday made me realise they can, just not in the way I expect or initially wanted them to. A warning before you go to the blog (if you wish to) that it does contain some profanity- not the point of my exercise but it shouldn’t stop me blogging about it.

Go to the blog here

Click to go to this blog site

The thing that strikes me is students are perfectly capable of expressing their opinions and this is where blogging would be really effective. I think it could particularly be used as a tool for Student Voice to find out what they are really thinking. I can also see a use in looking at contentious events in History and asking students to update their blog with an argument, supported by evidence. Stephen’s view on the ability to listen to music in lessons is one we have been grappling with in the Leadership Team and he makes a fairly robust argument on why we should let them.