This is Part III in the series “Stepping it Up: Learning About Blogs FOR your Students”
In Part III , I am exploring COMMENTING on blogs.
Commenting is a great introduction to student writing on blogs. It does not require to plan and write an entire blog post. Commenting could be used as a stepping stone for students to “earn” the right to author their own blog posts on a classroom blog or before they get to be administrators of their own student blog. I have seen teachers require a certain number of “moderated” comments before students “graduate” to be able to post comments without prior approval. The same teacher then requires a certain number of quality “unmoderated” comments, before the students gets promoted to becoming an author on the classroom blog.
Even with classmates or commenters from around the world leaving comments, WE ARE our students’ first and primary commenters. When we comment on our students’ blogs, we model quality writing AND content as well as encourage them to expand their own horizons to make connections in the online world.
It takes time to learn how to become a quality commenter FOR our students. We, as teachers, need to
- Read comments (…lots of comments) to learn to distinguish between poor, mediocre and quality comments.
- Model commenting to your students by leaving QUALITY comments on their blogs
- Avoid comments, such as “Great job”, “Way to go”, or “I really liked what your wrote”…
- Commenting is about continuing a conversation started in a blog post.
- Commenting is about helping to (potentially) push the author of the post in a new direction, give a new perspective or connect them to new resources.
- Commenting is about relating the thoughts, ideas, experiences or resources of the blog author to your own. Sharing them will paint a better picture of the issue, perspectives, or research.
- Ask yourself if your comment CONTRIBUTED to the conversation, the learning of the author or other readers?
- 21st century skills include critical thinking, problem solving and QUESTIONING. The comment section of a blog is a great place to practices these skills in an authentic environment.
- Use traditional writing conventions (grammar, word choices, audience appropriate,etc.)
- Add digital writing conventions (linking)
- Integrate reflective writing
- Compose and publish comments together as a class by projecting the blog post
Model proper grammar, etc.
- When you see a student misspell a word or publish a grammatically incorrect sentence, model correct spelling and grammar in your comment to the post
- As a class, go through comments in moderation and edit together
Take the time to discuss and reflect on comments left by others
- It is the perfect time to upgrade and replace traditionally taught lessons.
- Teach writing in an authentic setting.
- Engage in conversation with an authentic global audience.
- Deliver “just in time” mini lessons, as teaching opportunities pop up unexpectedly
- Model by responding to or continuing a conversation
Know the difference between academic and social commenting
- Students (and teachers) are most likely accustomed to commenting via text messages on their cellular devices and on friends’ Facebook walls.
- Teachers need to be aware of the difference between these “social comments” versus academic commenting
- Recognize when students are falling into social comments and coach them to academic commenting.
Craft an acceptable commenting etiquette tailored to YOUR classroom’s need
- Your classroom blog is an extension of your physical learning space and community.
- The age of your students, special needs and personality play a role in creating an acceptable commenting etiquette that works for your classroom.
- It is important to discuss and enlist the help of your students in crafting your etiquette
As a teacher, becoming a quality commenter is imperative to be able to guide and coach your students in becoming better academic commenters.
Need a playground to practice your own comment skills. Follow the Twitter Hashtag #comments4kids and leave quality comments for student bloggers from around the world.
The more YOU practice…the better commenter you will become… the better you can coach your students in becoming good writers in the digital writing world.