Update: We are all finished with the YIS version of the Blogging Scope and Sequence – please feel free to have a look! The collaborative doc is still open for editing too.
A few weeks ago I had an absolutely fantastic meeting with our English Department at YIS. They asked me to come in and talk about blogging: what it is, how it works and how it can be used in English. Naturally, I was way too excited (isn’t it every tech facilitator’s dream to be invited into a department meeting to talk about integrating technology?), but it turned out even better than I could have hoped.
First of all, the English department is wonderful! Not only did they let me monopolize their entire weekly meeting time, but they have already invited me back for another discussion. The entire team was very enthusiastic about trying something new (none of them have really worked with blogs before), and they were so quick to see the connection to literacy – not just using blogging as an opportunity to publish writing, but as an actual form of writing, and just as important as the others they already teach.
One of the highlights of the conversation centered around a section (on p. 32) of Will Richardson’s Blogs, Wikis, Podcast and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom that articulates so perfectly the different levels of blogging:
- Posting assignments (Not blogging)
- Journaling, i.e. “this is what I did today.” (Not blogging)
- Posting links. (Not blogging)
- Links with descriptive annotation, i.e., “This site is about…” (Not really blogging either, but getting close depending on the depth of the description).
- Links with analysis that gets into the meaning of the content being linked. (A simple form of blogging).
- Reflective, metacognitive writing on practice without links. (Complex writing, but simple blogging, I think. Commenting would probably fall in here somewhere).
- Links with analysis and synthesis that articulate a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked and written with potential audience in mind. (Real blogging).
- Extended analysis and synthesis over a longer period of time that builds on previous posts, links, and comments. (Complex blogging).
As soon as they saw the progression from what they originally thought was blogging (a simple publishing tool) to a much more thoughtful, consistent, metacognative practice that builds over time, they were hooked. They could immediately see that this is something beyond just doing old things in new ways, being trendy or using technology for technology’s sake (something I would never advocate).
Next Steps: Creating a Scope and Sequence
Now that they are super excited about the idea and ready to get started, one of the first follow-up questions I was asked (by my absolutely fantastic Vice Principal, Susie, who also teaches English) was for a blogging scope and sequence. Something that can provide a scaffolded list of skills to help them understand the embedded skills in blogging – the kind of skills that a blogger would take for granted, but a non-blogger might not think about. They feel that they understand the more traditional skills already (obviously) but don’t really know what needs to be taught for digital literacy. Although we’re starting with blogging, this could easily be applied more widely to other forms of digital literacy.
In the past, I would normally discourage this kind of documentation in favor of trying to work more closely with the teachers, scaffold their skills and naturally just embed the digital literacy skills as we progress. But, I’m starting to feel like it’s a little unfair to just expect teachers to go along with me without really knowing (in very concrete terms) where we’re going, that these teachers are super keen and competent and might not need as much handholding from me if they had a structure to follow, and that maybe it’s just time to put a scope and sequence together. It’s not like blogging is something new anymore…
Of course, this would be much easier if we had a scope and sequence for writing to begin with – just a standard format to follow that we could embed digital literacy skills into at each level (something like this). But, since we don’t have one already in place, I figure we can start with a basic overview for blogging. Considering I couldn’t find one to build on when I did a simple Google search, it seems like something that might be useful to more teachers than just us at YIS.
I’ve created a very basic beginning, based on some fantastic work that the always amazing Chrissy Hellyer did last year at ISB for their Grade 5 Digital Literacy unit as part of the Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop (which built onan earlier unit that Jeff, Tara and I worked on together), but I need help! It’s a big project and I know I’m not going to be able to think of every facet or write it from the perspective of an English teacher. Plus, I think (hope) this could be useful in other schools as well.
So please, add your two cents to this document! Feel free to edit as much as you want – a crowd-sourced scope and sequence will surely be many many millions of times better than what I can put together on my own. Please don’t forget to add your name as a document contributor so everyone who participates is credited. And, of course, feel free to use the finished product in your own school!
Thanks in advance! I’m so looking forward to seeing what we can all create, together!