Using a netbook, Google docs, and blogging has improved learning outcomes, increased engagement, and facilitated ongoing learning conversations between Year 5 student Teva, Kieren – his teacher, and Tania – his mother. Using these tools means Teva can move past the mechanics of forming letters and view writing as a creative act.
Teva, student at Parkvale School
In my last year I was, I wasn’t so good at writing, but since I have my laptop now I’ve been able to type fast, and I’ve, I’m doing year six writing now, instead of year five. I had to write down letters individually but now I can quickly type them all at once. And also, I can also work with other people without them having to write on the same page with me. They can use their own netbook to go into mine like I am now.
Tania, Teva’s mum
When Teva got the netbook and started doing his writing, as such, on the netbook, it was just, the difference in the stories were just quite amazing. Like before he’d write a story, but it’d only be like a few lines, like when he was doing actual handwriting. But now, he’ll write a whole couple of pages and just his imagination, the way he writes it, it’s just incredible. He can do that on the netbook because he’s just so much faster, so his brain can connect with his fingers I guess you could say.
Kieren Moriarty, teacher
So it’s basically an "onramp" to their learning, and their thinking too, so not even just writing. You can get a student like Teva who is able to create and get his ideas out to the world. Teva used to think of writing as a chore, as something that was hard, because he thought of it as just the handwriting as forming the letters, and now he thinks of it as a creative act. He sees that as it, cause he’s typing. And then there’s all the other resources available to them on the netbooks through the Internet and the sharing with the web 2.0 tools like Google Docs, and their blogs and all that. That all adds to the process.
So with, in the Google Doc when I’m, I can, the Doc is automatically shared with me. So when Teva’s writing I can be on my computer and look at his writing and can comment, or even if we’re on the same time have a quick chat about it as it’s happening and what’s great about that is if you write a comment in a piece of writing the child might read it and very good keen writers will, but then it’s left as that, but often with the Google Docs they love responding to your comments so it becomes a conversation. Even if it’s just a thank you they, they they remember it, it becomes more special and so, and so that helps you co-construct the learning with the student.
I like it 'cause when people comment on it I like to reply, 'cause it gives me like encouragement, and it sometimes it gives me ideas for different stories.
The audience, mainly I see it as as growing through their blogging and so the parents and the wider world and especially their peers love commenting on their blogs and the students. At first I thought the blogs would be like their best work, like a portfolio, like an e-portfolio, but it’s turned out that they, they, they do contain their best work but it’s also, they like it to be ongoing. So it’s like how we see blogging in the normal world because they want posts out there all the time, so that’s become, that’s where their audience is because they get comments so we have authors commenting on their work and all sorts of things that we can connect with through social media.
It just keeps flowing out of my head onto the keyboard and into the screen.