I am no longer, as of October 2008 working as a class teacher at Sandaig, so have moved this blog to another server. If you want to comment on this post, pleas search for it there.

17 02 07 Time: How long does it take your kids to post?


Cluster thingy
Originally uploaded by Lenny & Meriel.
I've been reading Ewan's post about play and Mrs. O'Neill's too. Lots of good thinks to think about. Ewan's post is one of a series about failure which has given me loads of ideas that are not full articulated yet, limiting myself to the play idea has me thinking about play and time.

To allow children to play with the new toys (tools) takes time. Time away from other things so we need to justify it in some way, I don't have too much a of a problem about that, but I am thinking of the amount of time it takes to blog, podcast or create a video.

For the Sandaig otters blog I usually have pairs of bloggers coming from 4 classes to the media room between 9 and 9:30 in the morning, so we should get 4 posts a day. Quite a few fall by the wayside. Even if the children make it to the room they quite often do not finish their post in the 15 or 20 minutes they have (they need to select a photo, resize it, write a post and blog the lot). Sometimes they get time to come back and finish, sometimes not (the children have also spent time the previous day taking photos for the days post).
This is an in theory way of working, it has not happened since Christmas as I have been back in the classroom fulltime due to staff absences, some children have been posting independently.

On the Primary Six SJ it has been taking up to an hour to carry out some tasks and again some children do not finish. As I am trying to take primary 6SJ to the media room once a week for ict, and we don't always blog (spent an hour commenting on other blogs last time) it is quite hard to give the children enough regular playtime. I want them to have enough time to make the tools transparent and to get into some real collaborative fun.

Anyway I am interested in how other teachers manage this. If you blog with children how long does it take children to post? How much time do you give them to read other blogs? For people making bubbleshare slide shows and the like, how long does it take for children to put these together?

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I too worry about the time spent. As a teacher of 28 P7s I can find it difficult to manage. For making podcasts etc I usually have to set the group to work unsupervised in a small area next to the class. Depending on group dynamics, this can be very successful or sometimes very little is achieved as they have argued. It’s having the courage I suppose and sometimes I am more courageous than others. Some children will post very quickly and others take so long that sometimes we have to abandon it. I too would be interested to hear about other teachers’ experiences.
Shirley (Email) (URL) - 17 02 07 - 23:49

One way that I have found quite successful when you need to get a post up really quick, is to get a number of students working on the same post. They each have a couple of things to say, can share the typing and ideas can bounce around and get acted on.
It doesnt solve the problem of the students who take that little bit too long to post though (or the ones that lose everything they’ve typed quite regularly!)
Looking forward to some more ideas :)
Kim Pericles (Email) (URL) - 18 02 07 - 06:14

Hi John,

I have to say, blogging amongst my pupils hasn’t properly taken off yet. One of the biggest issues that the pupils have yet to overcome is for them to develop a belief in themselves, that what they have to say, is worthwhile and interesting for someone else to read. Sometimes I feel that they need to have more confidence in their own abilities before they feel confident to share their thoughts, work and ideas with others. They are making progress however and I’m naturally being encouraging.

In relation to the question posed… when my pupils have blogged, yes it has taken them a considerable amount of time – but no longer than it would take for them to write some prose in Literacy, or a Science experiment. The difference with blogging compared to any other writing, is that few blogging tools allow the user to save their work in progress. Written work in books preserves your work as you write, a Word Processing package has the ability to save your work as you develop your writing. When writing within a web browser textbox, as I am now, I know that I have to finish this writing now… I can’t go back to it and add more, I could chance leaving the browser open – but it’s high risk. I can’t help but feel that part of the answer to yours and other’s situations, is through having better software tools for blogging. Some tools do allow you to ‘save as draft’ – Drupal does for instance. I’m not aware of any WYSIWYG tools that saves posts – you may have this already.

I’m surprised that web browser tools are so hopeless at coping with saving work that we’ve done. How many times have you accidentally closed a window with about 10, or even 5 mins work in a textbox? How many times has your browser crashed and you’ve lost the lot? How many times does a form not submit, but there is no way of saving the data or transferring it into another browser? From my own experience, heaps of times. The software has to get better at dealing with these situations.

I think we also need to recognise that great blog articles is a composition of text, images, video, animations etc, and as with anything we are publishing to a wide audience, it takes time to get it right and be satisfied with the result. I know my own blog articles can take several minutes to write, perfect, edit and publish.

Are our expectations different of pupils when blogging compared to writing in any other medium?
Jonathan Furness (URL) - 18 02 07 - 20:41

Hi Folks, thanks for the comments.
Shirley, I’ve had the same mixed results with unsupervised children, on one occasion when using a dv camera they were dancing all in front of it, they seemed surprised that I found out!

I guess Kim’s guys might lose things because of the limitations of blogging software that Jonathan point out.
you might like ecto or other MetaWebLog apps Jonathan. I often blog with textMate so that I can save and take a few hours or even days to put a post together. I often get my class to type up there posts in word for this reason. We can’t load any blogging software onto the networked pcs at school, this may change and I might try LiveWriter or the likes.
The point about the time other writing tasks take is taken, it would take just as long to get children to be habitual writes in jotters and not nearly as motivation.
It maybe an idea to collect a variety of blogging methods from the point of view of classroom organisation somewhere, that is the bit I find hardest and it is least covered in the blogosphere.
John (Email) (URL) - 18 02 07 - 22:25

I think this would be a good idea. I suppose that, because this is such a new area, it is a case of trying various methods out but it would be really helpful, particularly for teachers new to blogging, to read about others’ successes (or failures!)
Shirley (Email) (URL) - 19 02 07 - 21:22

I’ve started a page on Classroom Organisation on Tom Barrett’s classroomblogging wiki. Hopefully we can get some ideas from there. Please add your favourite methods.
John (Email) (URL) - 20 02 07 - 19:48

FWIW, WordPress offers Save and Publish while you’re working on a new post. Save keeps your work as a draft, but doesn’t publish it to the web. Next time you go to Write Post, any existing saved Drafts are listed by title in a very visible way at the top of the screen. And if you’ve not got round to giving them titles, they’re still there, just identified by numeric IDs instead.
David Gilmour (Email) (URL) - 21 02 07 - 23:49

I don’t think it is quite that bad here, we get a fair amount published. I do get the children to write in word first, more for spelling than saving. Pivot which we use here lets you put a post on hold and come back to it (Not quite the same as wordpress David). As I mentioned above, If could install software on machines here (soon I hope) I’d try some of the desktop blogging apps to see how they compare.
Paul where do your children blog? you link is broken here.
John (Email) (URL) - 22 02 07 - 07:01

Hi John
Marlyn and I got the children to write their blog posts or comments in Appleworks ( or Word for the PC users) and then copy and paste into the posts when ready. Would this help solve saving and time issues in some way.:-)
Morag Macdonald (Email) - 11 03 07 - 11:53

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tzpshnnmyn (Email) (URL) - 28 03 10 - 22:09

Well written! I would think a lot …
grand-gambler.com (Email) (URL) - 01 04 10 - 03:29

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I am no longer, as of October 2008 working as a class teacher at Sandaig, so have moved this blog to another server. If you want to comment on this post, pleas search for it at: http://www.johnjohnston.info/blog.