Friday, July 19, 2013

D.Grant on The Russell Street School

I took some time looking through the Russell Street School's blog, and I was really impressed.  Teachers, students, and school administrators all blog regularly and on different topics.  I could see from looking at the student blogs that blogging was part of their class grade as many of them were responding to the same type of reflection.  I did see a grading guide for students asking how they thought they did on their blog and what they thought their level of honesty was with the first question.  What a great way to get kids thinking about their own performance in an honest manner!

I was really impressed by the amount of media posted by teachers and students.  As an English teacher, I like to see writing (and there were some great creative writing pieces showcased), but I was a bit shocked at the frequency of pictures and videos.  It's also clear that the students are encouraged to showcase their personalities by customizing their personal blogs.  I also liked to see that teachers used their own blogs to show off exemplary student work.  I think it's important that students can see and comment on the work of their classmates.

One feature that I noticed wasn't used too much was the comment feature.  I looked at many blogs and only saw a handful of comments.  Often, they were teacher comments on the student blogs.  It's clear that the school values self-reflection, as most of the student blog entries had a reflective piece.  So, perhaps that is the beginning of the process and the collaboration comes later?  I couldn't really get a handle on the grades I was seeing as I read through the blog, but I was thinking this was elementary school.  I didn't see a designation on the about page, but page 12 of Part 1 of the school history says that school was opened as a primary school for standards 1-6.  Perhaps that is grades 1-6 in America?  In any case, I can see where collaboration would be something stressed more with older children after getting them engaged in blogging, showcasing, and reflecting on their work.

The school's blog has a good privacy policy to protect the kids, it encourages parent involvement, and it shows that the school is deeply involved in the lives and school work of the students.  The across-the-board commitment of the teachers and administration shows that the school has good leadership and dedicated teachers.  A great example for those of us in the profession!


  1. I think your observation about comments says a lot about the versatility of blogs. Some classes may choose to use them for collaboration, others for feedback, and others not at all. It depends on what kind of assignment they're working on and what other options they have to deliver feedback to each other. I often leave feedback in iPass (our grading system) because it seems more official that way and it's what's expected by my admins, but different schools do things in different ways.

  2. Darla, out of curiousity did you see any comments from parents or the public at large? I know the group of people involve change from year-to-year, as students progress and teachers change. In previous years, EDTech597 students have noted the participation by parents.

    1. Michael,
      I initially only noticed comments on the student blogs. One was a student responding to a friend and the other a teacher responding to a student post. I didn't actually see any parent comments, not that they aren't there.

      When I looked again, I saw one comment on the Supporters Page, which I assume is their parent booster club. I also saw a few comments on the room 10 and 11 pages that seem to come from parents. It's interesting to see parents comment on pages for the littlest students like the bright bugs.

      I like the ability for parents to interact, but, as a teacher, I'd like to see more interaction between students, too.

    2. Interesting... This appears to be a decrease from previous years then.

  3. One of my favorite pieces in this blog was the parent involvement. It's easy to see that the school values community and having one vision among the staff and families. IN order for technology to flourish in school we do need to have parents on board. I suppose it can be done without parent support, but it's a much more difficult process. Having everyone not just in agreement but actively involved sets a fantastic stage for growth. I loved the parent page they had. After talking with several parents from the school I work at, the biggest desire is that they are included in what we are doing with the students.

    1. Hi Christa,
      I agree that parents want to be involved. That's the number one request that I get from the parents of my students. I do like the fact that the blog allows students to participate as much or as little as they want.

  4. Darla,
    I noticed that there was a lack of comments as well! You are likely right about the age of the students, which could explain the lack of commenting.

    I believe that the commenting component of blogging is one of its greatest advantages over regular websites, so this is a bit disappointing! I know my students LOVED getting feedback, so I know how motivating it can be for students to do their best work. I wonder what would encourage more commenting?

    You made some excellent observations, thanks for sharing!