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Case Study on Blogging and Information and Digital Literacy at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell

The following case study was provided by Jennifer Macfadyen, Library Resource Centre Manager, Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell

I have always loved blogging so a few years ago I developed an investigation with my colleagues in English to get S2 pupils publishing their own work using WordPress software.

The blogs are based on the novel or drama being studied in class with pupils in pairs or trios. Their potential worldwide audience is revealed using the school’s ClustrMaps and we take time to ensure they are aware of online safety guidelines.

It became clear very quickly that this was an excellent opportunity to focus on plagiarism. We don’t ask pupils to ‘put it into their own words’; we demonstrate how plagiarism happens in practice by swapping pupils’ work about, altering a couple of words and changing the name at the top of the blog. Seeing their own hard work plagiarised tends to have a more personal and immediate impact.

We also discuss copyright, Creative Commons, Public Domain and Educational Purposes licences, and why they exist. But we also show them where suitable photos can be found and how to use them.

Our standards for publication are very high and we insist on proof-reading to the best of pupils’ abilities but their pride and sense of achievement in their work is genuine. Their experiences also cross the curriculum, with pupils often checking whether selected images are acceptable for copyright purposes or if their notes are plagiarism free. This initiative in S2 sets an excellent benchmark for their work in the future.

Link to the blog: 

Quote from Elaine Millar, PT English

School Librarians introduce pupils to information and digital literacy.

Well, ours certainly does!

For the last few years, we have been actively teaching our S2 pupils the art of a good blog. This initiative came about as a result of discussions between the P.T. English/ Whole School Literacy Leader and the Library Resource Manager, Mrs Macfadyen- who was most definitely the driving force behind this. She is a devotee of all things ICT, who saw the huge potential of “hijacking” social media in all its forms for educational purposes. And so, having set up a blog of her own, as well as one for the school website, she turned her thoughts to analysing the genre. We developed a “Good Blog Guide”, incorporating a checklist, published it to the Whole School Literacy Group, then set about teaching the skills. We identified a time slot in the S2 English curriculum plans and built in rich-task activities which would lend themselves to blogging. We now have numerous examples of successful blog entries: topics include:

  • Emily and Liam (CNI), Daniel and Mark (General Franco), Malala (Mark and Patrick) Lucy and Kayla (Martin Luther King); Anna, Regan and Ebony (Apollo 11); Alanah, Kerryn, Weronika and Ola (Marilyn Monroe, Michael and Ciaran (Homeless World Cup)

The children enjoy the immediacy of the publishing process, and we are able to teach them important lessons about copyright and plagiarism, accurate referencing of sources, as well as the appropriate choice and use of language and audience. The 21st century learner spends much of his or her time online anyway, so why not make this time educational too?

Extract from our Literacy Policy – Developing Literacy in Our Lady’s High School

“Definitions of literacy have evolved with developments in communication in very recent times, mainly due to the impact of electronic communication on society as a whole. As well as traditional ways of communication-through letters, essays, reports, real-time discussion, reading and manipulation of print-based texts- 21st century teachers and learners must give equal educational status to such new-and valid- means of communication as e-mail, blogs, podcasts and on-line conferencing. “

From English Teacher

Pupils really benefited from their research and blogging experience. It gave them the chance to go through the process of researching, editing and the satisfaction of publishing their blogs. For some of my pupils this was a really big achievement and it was lovely to see them gain confidence as a result.

From Pupils

Pupil 1: I loved blogging. It was nice to have a task to carry out on my own and i enjoyed showing it to my mum on the website after it was completed.

Pupil 2: i loved blogging because i’ve never had anything published before.

Pupil 3: Blogging was really interesting because i didn’t realise how hard it was to edit. I took a lot of things for granted. I felt really pleased with myself when i was finally done!

Pupil 4: I learned a lot about using other people’s information in your own work, as well as the copyright rules for pictures. It was great to see my work published – and even better to see that people all over the world had read it.






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