[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 18 June 2007, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
Pupils lead the way with blogging
By Catriona Forrest
BBC Scotland news website

Pupils from a primary school in East Dunbartonshire are at the forefront of a new digital learning phenomenon.

Woodhill Primary School pupil
Younger pupils write about the adventures of a French bear

Children in the pilot group at Woodhill Primary School in Bishopbriggs are using blogs to communicate with schools across the UK and Europe and making podcasts on a range of subjects, including French language.

Recordings of their voices can be heard on MP3 files, speaking French with accents which have astounded experts across all educational sectors.

The children can download the audio files at home and listen again to their work.

They also download worksheets at home and use these to write out answers as homework.

Their writing in French is confident and structured, and the pupils are easily able to explain their work to visiting adults.

This is a long way from the days of rote learning.

As members of the only school in Scotland currently involved in blogging for language learning, the pupils have become accustomed to demonstrating to visiting adults the ways that they use their blogs.

Woodhill Primary School pupils
Pupils are motivated to log on and read posts on the blog

No wonder that the the staff and pupils at the school were nominated for two awards at a Learning and Teaching Scotland ceremony in Glasgow's City Halls.

As winners of the International Schools award, Woodhill Primary School fulfilled selection criteria which demanded that they prepared their pupils for 'international citizenship'.

Other innovative uses of blogging in the school are the 'healthy passport' blogs in which the children write about ideas for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Depute head teacher Aileen Spence explained that the project would not have been possible without the financial support of the British Council.

Permission from the local education authority has allowed the teachers to innovate in their use of electronic communication methods.

Ms Spence said that East Dunbartonshire Council have been responsive to her requests for solutions to problems such as the monitoring of posts to the blogs.

She praised the education authority's flexible responses to the school's demands for permissions and their help in creating solutions to the security problems posed by blogging for minors.

Ms Spence said: "We are trail-blazing and we come up with ideas to which the authority responds with permissions and solutions."

Woodhill Primary School pupil
Pupils work on laptops in special areas of the school

She added: "We are finding new ways of working all the time. Video blogging would open up so many more doors and although there are currently many barriers to this, we will do it!"

The enabling of password-protection for blog entries has been one solution, as has the design of a system of moderation of posts.

Teaching and support staff have the ability to publish entries which have been written by pupils in the classroom or emailed from home computers.

The children create sound files using MP3 players, and staff upload the files onto the website.

This has created extra demands on staff time, but seeing the positive results for the children has been a motivation to all involved.

Dorothy Rae, one of three teachers of French at Woodhill Primary, said: "I have overheard pupils saying that they "cheated" before sitting class tests by going online and looking at the French vocabulary at home.

"The children look forward to the project time, they enjoy being out of the classroom environment.

Aileen Spence
Depute head teacher Aileen Spence was "thrilled" with the award

She added: "It is extremely effective way of teaching and we are starting to introduce these methods into our normal language lessons."

Both teachers and parents say they have seen a huge improvement in their vocabulary, confidence in speaking and their accents since they started the blogs in January.

The depute head teacher said that the children are a credit to the school: "We have people from the private sector singing the praises of their work."

Links with several schools are being fostered, and staff exchanges are helping sort out technical problems which hinder some of the other schools in their communications.

Emails have been exchanged with classes in Trinidad and Tobago as well as in China, swapping experiences of life in the childrens' home countries.

The ability to answer questions and communicate with teachers and pupils in France and in Coventry is a motivation for pupils to log on regularly.

They enjoy reading emails from their international friends in the 'e-twinning' link with a school in Nancy.

Primary seven pupils on a trip to Paris updated their blog from hotel rooms, adding pictures and sending electronic postcards to classmates at home.

Local secondary schools have been working with Woodhill Primary, learning from their innovation and preparing for an influx of pupils who are confident in communicating at a level well beyond their peer group.

Primary school wins 'blog' award
15 Jun 07 |  Glasgow and West

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific