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Improving literacy learning through Blogger

Tags: English | Blogging | Social media | Primary | Upper primary |

Students at St Pius X School in Auckland improved their literacy skills and their perceptions of themselves as learners through blogging.

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

Teaching as inquiry

St Pius X School promoted individual blogging as part of a wider initiative run by the Manaiakalani ICT Cluster. Their aim was to help students develop their personal voice and improve literacy outcomes by embedding blogging into the senior literacy programme.

Blogging became an integral part of the literacy cycle, especially in the writing and oral language programmes. Teachers encouraged students to use blogs to:

  • reflect on their own and others’ written work through the commenting function
  • publish and share their work with peers and the teacher
  • write with a focus on their audience
  • share their work with a wider audience
  • present their work through video, podcasting, music, and the software, VoiceThread .

Selecting and using a blog publishing tool

The school chose Blogger as its preferred publishing tool. Teachers in the cluster schools had Blogger expertise already and Blogger allows users to increase their audience by feeding to the Google Search Engine. 

The teachers created an individual blog for every student, administering it under the school log in, and granting students author rights for their blog under their own log in. The students kept their blogs as they moved up through the school. When students leave St Pius X School, teachers remove the school's name from the blogs and the students become sole administrators.

Managing the blogging process

Students wrote a series of blog posts at once and scheduled them to appear at different times throughout the week using the post date function. Frequent blog updates kept the interest high and made blogging a manageable task for teachers and students.

Supporting writing through Google docs

The teachers set up the students to use Google docs. Students wrote their drafts into the docs. The teachers gave feedback in the draft and students refined their work.

Students then copied and pasted their final work over to a blog post following instructions given by the teacher.

Blogging for an audience

Students had to consider the content of their post, the introduction at the top of the post, and the labels that they added. The introduction of a post is important because it feeds into the Google Search and summarises the blog post. Accurately labelling a post ensures that it is easy to find.

Student outcomes

Students grew in confidence, the quality of their written work improved, and they became more motivated writers.

“I am doing lots of writing so the world can see it.”

“I can go back and look at my writing and see how it’s changed.”

“I’ve never done this before and I am proud of what I can do.”

Manaiakalani project on literacy teaching and learning

Read the full research report  on the effectiveness of the blogging initiative across all schools in the Manaiakalani cluster.

Key findings:

  • Boys, in particular, were more engaged in the writing tasks because of the “hook” to get their work published online.
  • An authentic audience and relevant purpose provided significant motivation for students to engage in writing.
  • Audience comments and critiques of their work changed the way the students approached their presentation. Evidence showed:
    • students understood that an audience needs clear, quality writing that entertains and informs
    • oral language ability significantly improved because students needed to produce quality presentations to entertain and maintain their audience.