On receiving "An Evaluation of a Design-Based Approach to Holiday Blogging in New Zealand Primary and Intermediate Schools" authored by Dr Rachel Williams and Dr Rebecca Jesson this month we immediately looked to comapre the impact on literacy achievement outcomes with the previous summer.
"At the end of the summer holiday, I evaluated the quality and accuracy of all of the posts provided by our students. I also explored the impact that participating in the Summer Learning Journey programme had on the writing and reading ability of our students.
Check out what Rachel says in her Executive Summary:
|Writing: Figure 1|
In fact, the participants were 31.65 asttle points (approximately 6-9 months of learning) and 5 full PAT points (approximately 6 months of learning) ahead of non-participants at the end of the summer.
|Reading: Figure 2|
We believe that these differences are quite substantial and provide clear evidence of the significant, positive effect that sustained blogging over summer can have on the writing and reading ability of the students."
This insight into the impact of the Manaiakalani kaupapa is valuable.Our Manaiakalani Education Trust provides a free wifi network to our learners to support ubiquitous learning, and our summer bloggers have made full use of it. The SLJ would be challenging to support if the kaupapa of visibility was not genuinely supported, both for the learners and adults interacting with them. The design of the programme empowered our learners and overtly encouraged connectedness. We look forward to exploring the report in depth in Term 3 when our Kahui Ako theme is "Connected Learners Share".
There was a focus in this report on non-academic skills and 21st century competencies, including the development of individual prosocial skills (eg. communication, collaboration, empathy, support, etc).
"The presence of the commenting feature also appeared to drive student engagement and encourage participants to engage positively with the ‘expert’ commenting staff, with family/whanau and with students from New Zealand and overseas. There were numerous instances of positive, prosocial interactions between students in the commenting threads.
There were also instances in which the commenting staff forged deep and meaningful relationships with the student participants. It was clear that students trusted the expert commenters and were prepared to share personal details of their lives with them. The ‘mutually reinforcing nature’ of this interaction ensured that the students continued to participate and the commenters continued to engage positively with them, driving further, deeper and more meaningful participation from both parties.
The research team strongly believes in the capacity of this digital programme to facilitate the development of genuine personal relationships between individuals separated by geographical distance.
They also believe that individual, social and mental/emotional well-being may be enhanced through sustained participation in this programme, particularly for students who may be without much social interaction over the holiday and are at-risk of feeling lonely, alone or under supported. They would like to further explore the impact of participation on student well-being in future iterations of the programme."
Finally, I want to acknowledge Manaiakalani teachers and principals who encourage and actively support their learners as they head into the holidays. The report notes that
"Rates of engagement were highest amongst ... students attending schools with strong role modelling and support from teaching staff. Staff who valued the programme clearly communicated this to students who, in turn, were more likely to participate."