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Supporting inquiry learning using Blogger and Scribd

Tags: Effective pedagogy | Social sciences | Student inquiry | Blogging | Publishing | Social media | Primary | Upper primary |

Students at Hinuera School in Matamata used Blogger and Scribd to support inquiry focused learning.

“in our school, decisions about appropriate use of digital technologies are made collaboratively with students.”
 eLPF 2014

The inquiry focus

The class inquiry was undertaken as part of a senior syndicate unit underpinned by the theme "Me and my environment".

The school wanted to develop a plan for an alternative lunch eating area using the Enviroschools Action Learning Cycle . Students were involved in the design process for the new eating area.

Digital tools used to support this inquiry included Blogger, Scribd, PowerPoint, ActivInspire on the interactive whiteboard, and MovieMaker. This snapshot focuses on how Blogger and Scribd were used.

Incorporating digital tools into teaching and learning

The teacher wanted her class to use a blog page as an open forum for discussion about the lunch eating area. She used Blogger to set up a page on the existing class blog for students to share findings and thoughts.

She chose Blogger because it would:

  • allow students to easily view photos (published in PowerPoint) of the existing eating area
  • allow students to share ideas on how the existing eating area could be improved
  • help students develop their own plans for the new and improved eating area.

The students used the digital camera to photograph aspects of their eating area they believed were important, and those they deemed to be significant hazards. These photographs were uploaded into PowerPoint presentations, and then transferred to the class blog via Scribd.

Scribd is a publishing service that allows you to quickly and easily share files on the web. Scribd was selected for this activity because:

  • uploading each individual photograph would take less space on the page
  • students could view the photos in different formats.

The easy access to photos, via the class blog, supported students while they were drafting their own ideas and developing plans for a new and improved lunch eating area. The photos held a visual reminder of what the area looked like before. The teacher also planned for students and others to use the comment feature at the bottom of the blog page to create an online discussion about the photos.

After their investigations and discussions the students created A4-sized plans of what they wanted the eating area to look like. The plans provided a colour scheme and showcased specific features. Students wrote reasons for their design choices.

Students shared their designs with the whole class and popular ideas were incorporated into a final design using MovieMaker. The work was shared with the BOT, principal, and students across the school. The school’s Enviro Group supported the next stages of the design process.

Collecting evidence

Teacher reflection

The teacher anticipated that the blog page would be used as a open forum for discussion. However the students were not receptive to this concept, moving quickly into drawing their designs. In future, the teacher would include the students in designing the blog page to ensure that they have ownership of it, and structure activities to achieve the desired outcome.

The teacher noted:

  • the students developed a deeper understanding of the inquiry model through this project
  • the students were able to identify, modify and develop a new idea
  • using tools (PowerPoint, Scribd and Blogger) provided a way of sharing and hosting information relevant to the experience.