When starting my new school in September, the mission was to turn the school around and promote the great things that happen inside our school. We are half way through the school year now and the work that we done so far has been incredible. Rapid progress is being made and the school feels like a completely different place than it did when I went to look around nearly a year ago.
We are very proud of what we have achieved so far.
Back in November I shared my vision for developing class blogs with head teachers and deputies at a school leadership conference in Nottinghamshire. My presentation was all about what could be achieved by blogging- I had only just started when I ran this workshop. I explained the upcoming requirements of the new computing curriculum and that e-safety and responsible internet use needs to be taught from Year 1. I suggested that blogs embeds this in the school ethos and regular blogging promotes responsible online behaviour.
This week everything fell in to place neatly, and the impact blogs have had on our learning environment and parental involvement has been phenomenal. It has only been 5 days.
Over the February half term I relaunched our blogging platform. I moved from our school website based blogging software to WordPress. There are two reasons for this. The first is ease of use for less experienced staff; they would blog by email to WordPress. The second is the WordPress app for more experienced staff to bring blogging in to classroom by making use of iPad in school.
I created one WordPress account for the school, and within this I set up a whole school blog, year group blogs and extra curricular blogs. Each blog has a separate address and security settings need to be applied to each individual blog page. They are managed through the one account though, making post reviews and comment moderations easy. I know exactly what is on each blog page and how it is being used. I also linked the blogs to Twitter and Instagram to create a way to promote the blog posts but also display a snapshot of life inside our school on a day to day basis.
Working with Instagram is what interests me the most at the moment as this is something new to me. I am closely following the work of Avenues school and their use of Instagram for creating a brand and sharing with parents.
When sharing my vision for blogging with staff and parents, I felt this needed to be presented in way which supports the use of technology. My aim was create a trailer to explain the project and I set about creating a brand for the school blogs. The theme which links all of this social media use with the school vision is the notion of seeing what is great inside the school and displaying our school as great place to learn.
‘INSIDE’ became the name for the project, and here is the trailer.
This made the vision very clear and set out the reasoning and outcomes neatly.
Next came the launch week. We already have a usage agreement in place from the previous blog and website policy so I could move forward to creating content for our blogs. Parents were notified of the new blogs via text message and word spread quickly. Our Executive Head Teacher was visiting our link school in India during launch week and he participated in live blogs and Skype calls which were a huge success for showing the purposefulness of blogging. I would strongly advise a whole school event to coincide with the launch of blogs. This gets staff, parents and children on board very quickly and generates enthusiasm for something new.
“if that worked that was the easiest thing ever” EHT on posting by email from India (yes, it worked).
Staff were amazed at how easy it is to post to the blogs using the blog by email feature of WordPress. Two days after launch staff requested extra curricular blogs for performing arts and sports. At 8pm Friday, comments were coming from parents, grandparents and children. These continued through Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Here are some of the best comments received in the first week.
Committing to blog regularly was discussed with staff, and we agreed that a post a week would be the minimum. Demonstrating the use of the iPad app and how to plan blogging in to lessons was shared, and obviously I will lead by example. The use of Digital Leaders in classrooms was suggested by upper key stage 2 staff, and they have decided to utilise their DLs to lead small groups each week to create and publish posts about learning each week.
Promoting the blog offline: school hall display.
Digital Leaders will manage INSIDE with me. Head Teachers from local schools and parents have started subscribing to our blogs, this will be promoted throughout the half term. To continue this commitment to blogging, I will move forward by sharing the 100 word challenge and 5 sentence challenge. I am building up to QuadBlogging as a long term plan.
Visit INSIDE at http://insidebjps.wordpress.com
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @INSIDEbjps