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.
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.