New Literacies Video Presentation

Here is the New Literacies Group video presentation from the culminating session of the PLP ConnectU program for DEECD teachers in 2011. It features students from Winters Flat PS, Castlemaine PS, Berwick PS, Kalinda PS and Yuille Park Community College.

The students talk about:
– using blogs
– using Google Docs
– using the Ultranet
– improving their traditional literacy skills
– learning new digital literacies

New Literacies Group – PLP ConnectU

This year I’ve been fortunate to lead the New Literacies Group, one of six PBL teams involved in the DEECD Professional Learning Practice program of 2011, a project involving 70 teachers across Victoria. Digital media literacy is something I’m passionate about as it continues to rise in importance in every discipline and profession (1). Our team began by looking at new literacies of the more literary kind including online research, wikis, texting, blogging and micro-blogging. To keep things manageable we narrowed our focus to blogging – one of the key new literacies that has changed the way millions of people share and communicate with eachother.

Posting on Facebook, on a micro-blogging platform like Twitter or on a personal blog like this is now so commonplace that it’s easy to forget how new blogging is and how rapidly it is growing. Blogging didn’t become mainstream until this century. Facebook, with 800 million users (2), is less than eight years old, Twitter, with more than 200 million users (3) is less than six years old, and the big new social networking entrant Google+ has reached 50 million users in only three months (4).

These figures show that, if our students aren’t already blogging, then they will be soon. So it’s important that we help them and ourselves better understand blogging, its pitfalls and its benefits.

Our first task was to identify the key question to drive our PBL project. After much discussion we settled on, “In what ways does writing and communicating through blogging improve student learning and literacies?”

To our students, some as young as six, we simplified this to questions like, “How has blogging improved your reading and writing?” and “What have you learned through blogging?”

We also used this rubric to introduce both teachers and students to blogging to help them identify what they already know and what they need to learn. Most of our students are new to blogging, and so are some of our teachers, so we’re looking forward to recording our learning along the way.

I’m involved in a number of student, class blogs and school blogs, and I’ll use what I learn in this project to help them all. Since I’ll be spending more time with MAC H, a year 3/4 class at Winters Flat Primary School in term 4, and since these students are mostly new to blogging, I’ll be focusing on their blog and related student blogs to try and gauge the effect of blogging on student learning.  Please check out the MAC H blog here – comments are welcome.

(1) NMC Horizon Report K-12 2011

(2) LA. Times. September 22, 2011

(3) BBC, March 28, 2011

(4) Paul Allen, Google+, September 27, 2011

What should we do to ensure student safety online?

Click here for an interesting discussion about blogging and cyber-safety.
Questions discussed include:
– Should students use their names?
– Should we include student photos?
– Who should be allowed to visit and comment on the blog?
– How do we ensure student confidentiality when working online?
– And most importantly, how do we teach online safety to students?
The answers aren’t simple and, even where there is broad agreement, they don’t come in a simple ‘one-size fits all’ package.
This is well worth reading for teachers planning to have class or student blogs.

– Should students use their names?

– Should we include student photos?

– Who should be allowed to visit and comment on the blog?

– How do we ensure student confidentiality when working online?

– And most importantly, how do we teach online safety to students?

The answers to these questions aren’t simple and, even where there is broad agreement about the issues involved, the answers don’t come in a simple ‘one-size fits all’ package.

Click here for an interesting discussion covering these questions about blogging and cyber safety.

Kids love Voki characters on their blogs

Click the play button below each character to hear them speak.

Here are some more examples on student blogs:
Lucy (Yr 6 Winters Flat PS), Bailey (Yr 5 Winters Flat PS), Maya (Yr 5 Guildford PS), Kate (Yr 1 Guildford PS)

To put a Voki avatar on your blog, follow these steps:

Step 1. Go to the Voki website at

Step 2. Design your character and add a voice.  You can record your voice or use the T symbol to type the text you want your character to speak.

Step 3. Choose ‘Publish’, then follow the prompts on screen.  (You don’t need to create an account.)

Step 4. Select and copy the text in the field under ‘For Most Sites Use This Code’ (See below.).


Step 5. Add a new post to your blog and select the HTML tab (essential). Then paste the code you copied in step 4 into the post field and choose ‘Publish’ (See below.).

How to manage an Edublog blog

Blogs on and, like this one, use the Word-Press content management system (CMS) that makes it easy to manage a blog.

Click on the links below to see some helpful videos.  The user interface in these videos differs somewhat from the standard Word Press interface on many blogs, but the principles remain the same,

Five minute overview

Writing posts and pages

Customizing your design

Configuring your settings

Playing with plugins

Managing users

Using the manage tab

Is blogging good for school children?

Blogs have tremendous educational potential.  They provide a communication space that teachers, children and parents can use to develop writing, share ideas and reflect on work being undertaken at school in any subject area.  They enable children to showcase their work and to receive feedback and encouragement from friends, family and fellow students.

What are blogs?
You are reading one.  Blogs are websites maintained by people to describe events or make commentary on news or subjects of interest.  Blogs are mostly made up of pieces of writing, called posts, written by the blog owner.  They may also contain images and video and usually have links to other blogs and web pages.

Do blogs threaten children’s privacy or safety?
Blogging on teacher-monitored blogs is a comparatively safe online activity, but since anyone can see a blog and anyone can post a comment on a blog, there is a risk that unwanted comments will be posted.  Usually comments don’t appear publicly on a blog until they are approved by the blog’s owner (this is the default setting for most blogs), so inappropriate comments will only be seen by the blog owner (child) and the teacher administrator.  School children should be taught about cyber bullying and all school blogs should be monitored to ensure appropriate behaviour.  It is rare to find anyone outside the school community posting on a school blog.  Children should not share personal details like their address or family photos.  Once a photo or video is posted on a blog it can be viewed and downloaded by anyone.

Hello world!

Hello world and hello especially to students, teachers and parents of Winters Flat, Guildford, Campbells Creek, Castlemaine, Castlemaine North and Malmsbury Primary Schools.   I built my first website in 1993 and have posted on more blogs than I can remember, but this is my first post on my own blog, so there’s lots to learn.  Now … which button do I press!?