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Pupil blogging with a wiki

I have finally started one of my classes blogging. I decided to use a wiki from the excellent Wikispaces for this purpose rather than a blog. I took inspiration from Kristian Still’s excellent wiki at his previous school (which seems to have dissapeared now Kristian has moved schools?). I also made the choice as I’m a big fan of wikispaces, our Scheme of Work is now completed in a basic form on a wiki and I would like to get the pupils to add resources to this over time, so it seemed logical to keep the pupil blog on the same platform. I find that the ability to add code of almost any description means that you can embed a fantastic variety of resources using wikispaces.

It took some time agreeing how to go about this with my school, concerns over pupil safety and representation of the school were obviously paramount, but to be fair school have been wholly supportive of the project. I have kept the terms of use as simple as possible and spent half a lesson discussing the correct use of the wiki and how important it was the pupils used it respectfully. They have taken to it fantastically, they are taking great pride in seeing their work online.

At present I am simply letting 1 or 2 pupils per lesson be our blogging scribes, recording the details of the lesson and then afterwards I am adding copies of anything that I think useful (for example photos of pupils work and copies of the IWB pages). This has proved fantastically useful at the start of each lesson as a means to recap what we have done so far in the topic.

At first I asked pupils to sign up to wikisapces themselves as a homework, this was not successful and I ended up with only two users. Instead I spent a little time setting up accounts for each pupil using the gmail address trick, each pupil having an address of myclass+THEIR NAME@gmail.com. This also has the advantage that any messages sent via the messaging function in wikispaces automatically get sent to my email account.

I must admit that wikispaces messaging function hadn’t crossed my mind at first, it is effectively an email system within wikispaces. The pupils found it within about 5 mins! This was a concern at first, especially as I read this at the same time the issue arrived at my door. However after a little reflection I decided that it shouldn’t be a great problem and sent a simple message to all pupils asking them to use it responsibly for discussion on topic and nothing else. AS I was receiving copies of all messages I was rather pleased to see a “maths has become cool” replied by “yeah!!!!! this is better than doing work” which made my day.

Please head over to the blog and leave the pupils a comment if you feel inspired, I’m sure they would be delighted. I plan to continue with this for the next half-term and if successful I’ll roll it out with some other classes. Some ideas in the pipeline at the moment are getting each pupil to add something as part of a homework, and also to get them all to take pictures using their mobiles for use with one of the forthcoming topics.

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