Those of you that have listened to me talk about blogging will understand that I have a propensity to filibuster on the importance of tagging. Beyond basic word processing I consider tagging to be one of the key skills that every successful blogger needs to be taught, to understand and to embed into their practice. On a basic level, tags act as a search index for your blog; critical when you have a class of enthusiastic bloggers all busy posting lots of writing (how do you find a blog post once it has disappeared from the homepage?). For a longer post describing the different applications of tagging, click here.
Yesterday I was visiting Woodlands Academy, a middle school in Bedfordshire. I’m excited to be building a new blog project for them because we don’t have a middle school on our books as yet, but the model of more mature children in a smaller school setting without the influence of elder teenagers appeals to me. In the context of blogging I’m hoping that the positive online culture that so many of our primary teachers manage to create can be extended for a couple of years. They do have issues to consider as they follow a secondary based subject teaching model, so are they better pursuing “registration group” based blogs, subject based blogs, or a combination of both. I suspect that the lightness and flexibility of the WordPress platform will mean that they will adapt as they go and build blogs to meet needs.
One of the interesting things about Woodland is that it is a “values” based school. They have a core set of values that are fundamental to the ethos of the school. We discussed at length how blogging might help to reflect these values and evidence them in practice. One obvious way to do this is for the school to have a values blog in which a particular value is focused upon each week/month/term, as appropriate. The author of this blog could be the headteachers or a pastoral leader within school. However, tagging allows children to show how that value is reflected in their work. Since a “value” has a name, it can easily be used as a tag. For example, “peace”, “caring”, “appreciation”, “commitment” etc. could all be added as tags to blog posts where these values are discussed or evidenced. Once the whole school is doing this on their own blogs then the global tagging feature of our WordPress installations comes into its own: all these tags are aggregated into the global tag cloud on the homepage of the blog meaning that a visitor, with a single click can access blog posts about the chosen value across the entire community of blogs.
I am looking forward to watching this blog community develop and show how it is using the blogs to underpin the values and ethos of the school