Friday, 31 January 2014

Blog Envy

I introduced my granddaughter to blogging over the holidays.  Her mother is off touring in the USA and I thought it would be an ideal time for the two of us to work on improving her writing which her teacher tested for and judged (triangulated, no doubt) in a snapshot at the end of the year as "Below the National Standard".  Shock, horror!  
So drawing on what little I know about "writing for improvement", we decided to set up her ipad with Blogpress and encourage her blogging with the aim of writing to an authentic audience.  Subject matter abounds in the holidays.  "Write about your holiday experiences, share with other people and see what they have to say," I urged her.  Here is the resulting blog - Hunter's Blog

Initially, I had hoped for 20 views for her blog at the maximum, after all it takes time to build an audience and even more time for the "authentic audience" to respond with some comments.  That seems to be a common theme across schools.  I wonder who has seen a blog from a successful blogger at intermediate level in New Zealand so that Hunter can compare and contrast?

What I found was her audience was twice as big as mine from the beginning.  Oh, Blog Envy, I think it needs to be number eight of the deadly sins. I have begun to question why I do not have a larger audience.   Is it because she is 12 and I am 60? How can I cast my net further?  Is my writing boring?  I suppose I do ramble on about education a lot, is it just something most people are not interested in?  Oh well, I suppose it comes back to the purpose of blogging.  For me it is reflective.  Having said that I certainly do want to share these thoughts with people, after all , its not  much fun being an island, is it?

So I can gnash my teeth for the next five months but really it comes down to what have I learned from observing the changes in her attitude to writing?  

  • I learned it makes a real difference to be able to use technology and not have to rewrite to the teacher's satisfaction, a multitude of edits in handwriting until your hand aches.
  • I learned it really does make a difference if you know someone else is going to be reading your writing.  There is a sense of urgency in wanting to edit and get it right.
  • I learned you really have to think about what you believe (actually I knew this already but it was pleasing to watch this process going on in the young mind)
  • I learned you can really make it "your own work" with adding your own images.  Adding the right photos has been a fun part of the process, as well as giving a sense of ownership.
  • I learned that there are so many teaching opportunities when children write blogs, like the digital citizenship issue that came up when my granddaughter wanted to use an image from Google, (you shouldn't just help yourself to other peoples pictures and, yes, cartoons belong to people, too).
  • I learned there are lovely people out there who can really make a difference in a young girl's life by commenting and encouraging and supporting blogging.  
  • I learned you really can enjoy doing homework in the holidays (actually I knew that already, too, but someone else didn't.)

Yes, Grandma learned a lot these holidays. And I think Hunter did, too. Blog on, Hunter!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

A response for Manu

This blog is in response to the stunning +Manu Faaea-Semeatu's invitation to start the year rolling, with 11 random facts about me:

  1. I ran away from my first husband.
  2. I ran away to Hawaii 15 years later to get married to my second husband.
  3. I am not very good at running, actually
  4. I spent nearly a year in and out of three different hospitals when I was 5 with osteomyelitis in my foot and Charlotte Dawson's father (adopted) was the bone specialist who finally fixed it with a bone transplant from my hip.
  5. I started my working life as a microbiologist specialising in the study of viruses in sewage
  6. I have never once in my whole life been slim.
  7. My maiden name is Gulliver
  8. I love summer.
  9. I once won the women's shoot at clay bird shooting at my father's club.
  10. I am naturally a brunette
  11. My new neighbour is Mark Lundy
Pretty random, huh?

And now the answers to Manu's 11 questions.

  1. If I had the power to create change in education in Aotearoa, I would have every educator and educational institution implementing the use of technology in their classrooms to allow every student to live and breathe and embody the six themes of future oriented teaching and learning through the power of digital technology.
  2. My most influential teacher in high school was my 6th form English teacher- Mr Allen- a man with one arm.  It is so long ago, I nearly forgot his name but he talked to us about his own life experiences and built the relationship so well that I strived to do my best to please him with essays and tests. I cannot remember what he said to me personally, his remarks were always directed to the class as a whole.  He was a great story-teller.
  3. The Christmas card or the present?  It is neither really.  It is the thought behind the present be it small or large.  Why did you give me this?
  4. My racing partner would be my Dan,
    because he knows how to analyse physical situations around us and he is strong and fit!!
  5. My specialist topic on Mastermind would be plants.  I like plants, I like their biology, their life cycles, their forms,their many uses and their never understated importance to us in the world. 
  6. The NZ road rule that should be omitted - push bikes should not be allowed on car and truck roads - they should have separate roads or lanes.  I fear for their riders' lives.  I think bike riding is awesome - great to keep everyone fit and fun but it is too dangerous to go on NZ roads. Don't stop bike riding though, just build separate byways for them.
  7. My fav app at the moment is Bitstrips just because it is the holidays and fun.  I am nearly over it though. 
  8. Facebook for social media, Google+ for work related networks.  Google+ has less fluff with it. Twitter for instant access to pd. Search with your desired hashtag.
  9. Reasons for blogging? - reflections clarify thinking.  Helps you focus on what is important - whether it be work, play, friends or family.  So that is the diarying aspect.  There is also the sharing aspect, and getting feedback - so nice to know there are other people out there who value what you have to say!
  10. A four day working week? Yessirrreeee!! 
  11. Top of my bucket list is to tour all 50 of the US of A!  Such a beautiful country, so many diverse people, so many weird and wonderful places to visit.  It would take me about 18 months I think.  Have only been to 16 so far.
I am not so sure about nominating 11 bloggers.  I have been nominated for other blog writing exercises such as this and it can become a bit of a trial!!  Maybe I will just wait for 11 bloggers to volunteer responses and answer the same questions that Manu asked in her original blog.

The good thing is, I have now done my first 2014 blog!!  Thanks, Manu!