Newton International School D-Ring’s Pobble journey began in 2016/2017 when myself and my Year 2 class were asked to trial the website. In short, the results were incredibly positive. We even decided to roll out Pobble to 29 classes across the school in the following year!
A purpose to write
The main reason Pobble was so successful, was that it gave children a purpose for writing: they are enthusiastic to do their best. We have a high proportion of EAL learners, who often found writing difficult and a chore. The children are constantly asking if this is a ‘Pobble piece’. What to ask is if their work might be published. This keeps them engaged and motivated, which in turn has improved the quality of their writing dramatically. A real highlight in our first year of using Pobble, was when Simon came to visit and the children got to see ‘Mr Pobble’. Suddenly they realised that there were people, living in the UK, who had genuinely read and commented on their writing.
As we started to get more views and comments from students, teachers and family members around the world, the excitement only increased. The children understand that only their best work can be published and ask for ways to make their writing better. This has also encouraged the teachers to reflect on what makes the best piece of writing and compare pieces of work to those happening in the UK and in other British curriculum schools around the world. As the students’ enthusiasm grew, so did that of the teachers. They were, for example, using Pobble 365 in soft starters, incorporating exciting images and videos into the lessons.
At the moment, we are preparing for an inspection to gain UK accreditation. Pobble has helped us to understand how to achieve many of the objectives required; we use Pobble to moderate between staff, we run commenting sessions for peer-assessment, the children are better at self-assessment, and we have better pupil voice through two children in each class being Pobble ‘mini champions’.
Pobble has helped us to compare our standards of writing in many ways. We can compare within year groups and across the school, we can compare with other schools in the Newton group, we can compare against other international schools and, perhaps most importantly, we can compare our writing to that of schools in the UK to confirm that our standards are in line. To further support this final step, we have now been put in contact with a few schools in the UK and elsewhere in the Middle East so that we can connect our classrooms and ensure closer collaboration. Our aim in the future will be to moderate across countries and continents, a truly global approach to learning!
Award winning writing
For one child in particular, Pobble has been an extremely exciting adventure. A child in Year 2 was selected as a winner of The Pobble Awards. Winning the ‘Writing Wizard Award’ led to children and adults all over the world commenting on her piece of work. The sense of pride and achievement from this was overwhelming for her, her parents and the school as a whole. The students celebrated her success and looked at her writing to see why it was such an amazing piece and now strive to achieve the same. The teachers strive to plan lessons that allow for this level of work and the child herself has since gone on to write a poem about wars in the world that has been published in a newspaper.
Throughout our Pobble journey, we have been well supported by Simon and other members of the team behind the scenes. We have had regular Skype calls, Simon has been out to visit the school for CPD and to re-invigorate the staff. Tom has been on hand when I have inadvertently pushed the wrong button (!) and any requests have been swiftly dealt with.
Pobble has been and will continue to be a useful, successful tool for our school in terms of enthusiasm for writing, raising writing standards, assessing writing (for children and teachers) and writing moderation.
Steph Wolstenholme is a Year 2 teacher and Pobble Champion at Newton International School D-Ring in Qatar.
Want to implement a whole-school focus on writing? Request a free demo of Pobble today!