Sunday, March 7, 2010

Student Blogging - Bright Sparks

During my trip to BETT back in January I attended a really interesting seminar on student blogging to promote reflective learning. Myers Grove School in Sheffield have been using Bright Sparks from Life Beyond School encourage students to reflect on their learning and to build up a portfolio of evidence against various competencies. I am currently involved in a project to introduce netbooks to all students in year 7 from September and I thought that this might be a useful tool for students to use in tutor time as a sort of extended plenary on their learning for the day. I therefore jumped at the chance to visit Myers Grove School last week to find out more about the system.

Bright Sparks is an online blogging tool which allows you to classify entries against a set of competencies. Numerous frameworks are possible e.g. SEAL or PLTS or any in-house frameworks. These can be mapped against each other so that evidence collected against one framework can be translated into a different one.

Myers Grove have developed a set of 12 enterprise skills:-

  • Leadership and Team Working
  • Decision Making
  • Negotiating and Influencing 
  • Risk Management
  • Positive Attitude
  • Initiative
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Organisation Planning and Evaluation
  • Effective communication
  • Economic and Ethical Issues
  • Financial Capability
  • Product or Service Design and Development
Students keep a Digital Diary classifying each entry against one of these 12 skills. Evidence is collected in paper format throughout the day and then entered onto the system at the end of the day. The entries take the format of a short post explaining what the activity was. Documents, images, podcasts and videos can be uploaded to support the post. If the student feels that an activity evidenced more than one competency they would need to create an entry for each competency. This was a deliberate design decision to ensure that students didn't allocate an activity to multiple competencies. The data from the entries is displayed in the form of a wheel:-

( taken from Bright Sparks webpage )

As evidence is entered for each competency the wheel is filled in. Once a segment is filled in Bronze it starts again in Silver and then Gold ). This gives the student a snapshot of their progress and also highlights competencies that they have not covered.

The school has a different focus each half term to highlight where students have been using each of these competencies. Discussions are held during lesson plenary to help students identify which skills they have been using. Reports are being developed on the Bright Sparks system to show which subjects students are logging their evidence against to ensure that the competencies are being embedded across the curriculum. 

Once students move into KS4 they start to log their evidence against PLTS so that they are building up evidence for e.g. their Diploma studies. As the Enterprise Skills framework has been mapped against PLTS both frameworks can be turned on at the same time to aid transition and all evidence collected for the Enterprise Skills framework can be re-displayed as PLTS competencies. Similarly in Post 16 the competencies can be translated into evidence for personal statements. There is also a CV tool as part of the system. This mapping of competencies against each other ( via an underlying set of skills ) means that KS2/3 transition is also possible e.g. SEAL Framework to the Enterprise Framework. Temporary Frameworks can also be added e.g. a field trip or a sports event. This is currently being utilised in a sports project funded by the Olympics Fund. There is also a staff version which has the TDA Frameworks and Myers Grove are also looking at a parent portal which would allow parents to build up a CV. 

Apart from getting students to reflect on their learning it also supports them in understanding what is meant by the terms e.g. initiative and helps them to identifying when they are using various skills. 

I feel that this tool would fit really well into the use of the netbooks and enable tutor time to be used effectively to reflect on the day's learning. It would also help to facilitate mentoring sessions as it would be a good vehicle for reviewing progress and setting future targets. 

No comments:

Post a Comment