September 19, 2011

Blogging With My Reluctant Writer. ~ Debbie Grieve

My son has the most amazing imagination but like many dyslexic children he finds it hard to manage all the processes of writing in order to get his thoughts and ideas down on paper so that they will have the same impact there, as they do in his wonderful mind. I am sure that all of the things one has to think about in order to write creatively, must often look like this in his young mind:

At his former school, The American School of Bombay, he experimented with various digital tools to help express his ideas, things like Glogster and ePortfolios and likely many more that I was unaware of.  However, we have now moved locations and these tools just aren’t available to him in his current school so I began looking for ways to work with him at home using digital tools that could support him in order to achieve great writing, and most importantly, for him to retain a love of it!  As a blogger myself, I know how much I enjoy writing and sharing my blog and how nice it is to be able to use different types of media to bring my writing to life. So, I decided this would be a great opportunity to share it with him too.  I have to say at this point, that we have also invested a lot of time this summer hand-writing a journal in order to practise all the same things when physically writing but I also want him to know that there are other options, options that can remove so many barriers for him.

We set about creating his blog and we walked through the basics of how to use it and some of the tools.  Most blog providers these days do allow a vast range of media, links and plugins to be used so this is something we decided to take one step at a time and will revisit these many time in the future.  We looked at templates and he choose one he liked and we talked about why they were all different and what that meant to the potential layout of his blog.  We then talked about content and the types of things he wanted to share; he decided that the main content of his blog would be random reflections and musings about what he was up – I felt this was important as he needs to have real interest in the subject he is writing about to be passionate about it.

His tutor also recommended poetry to help with reading fluency so he has been using Kenn Nesbit’s poems and LOVES them.  He laughs out loud at them and it is a joy to see him reading these for pleasure. As such, we decided to ask the author’s permission (good lesson in digital citizenship!) to share them on a ‘poetry corner” page on his blog and he sent us a lovely reply, giving us his blessing and wishing Thomas a personal ‘best of luck‘ with his blog.  This was a real boost – Tom was thrilled that an author had mentioned him so personally. Tom also wanted to add a jokes page (idea borrowed from his tutor) and now he loves to skim and scan his joke books for funny jokes to share.

This has been, and continues to be, a lovely thing to do together. There is no denying that you have to be prepared to spend the time doing it but of course it is a worthwhile investment; it is nice to have an ongoing project to work on too. It also allows us many opportunities to talk about cyber security and good digital citizenship – not a new topic in our house by any means but one that needs constant re-enforcing in my opinion.  We talk about what information one should or shouldn’t share and I like seeing him manage his profile responsibly. Now wonderful friends and family are taking the time to read, comment and share on his blog so now he sees the impact!  These social, personal connections provide encouragement, love and inspiration and I hope it will continue to fuel his desire to write more. To all that have taken this time, thank you!

We continue to learn lots of new tools together and often discover barriers we need to overcome. For instance, we recently discovered that WordPresss does not allow you to embed certain media, arh! This is a nuisance as I want this to be as media rich as possible for him, so we talked about how we might over come that – problem solving skills…….?????

We use other digital tools to enrich his learning experiences too. He is continuing to work at practising his maths facts using several great ipad apps that reward his effort with fun bugs (of the virtual kind!) and other creatures to play with and he uses Whizz.com to consolidate and revisit maths topics with visual and interactive activities that stimulate his interest and his mind. He loves the interactive nature of these tools and for such a visual learner, I am seeing how the very nature of these tools excite him about his learning as they begin to remove some of the barriers that can otherwise exist for him.

I am in no doubt about the power technology can have to enrich learning experiences for us all and it is great to see this in action so close to home.

Debbie Grieve
Hooked on Learning

I wear many hats. After 11 successful and fulfilling years in InvestmentBanking Operations Management, I decided to retrain as a Post 16 Literacy and IT teacher 2 years after the birth of my first child.

Since then I have worked for the Essex County Council as both an ITQ/NVQ assessor and an ICT and Literacy tutor, and for Braintree College of Further Education as an Associate Lecturer. I have worked with both adults returning to learning, young, dis-engaged learners enrolled on the NEET and E2E programs as well as youth offenders.

In March 2008 my family and I relocated to Mumbai, India with my husband. Here, I worked with the Oasis NGO, teaching English as a foreign language and I have been involved with many initiatives at the American School of Bombay (ASB) from volunteering as part of the Technology Team as the Parent Technology Representative to being an active member of the PTO Executive Board.  In January 2012 I joined ASB as Co-Director of the ASB Online Academy , a pioneering online learning initiative of the School.

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