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Learning About Blogs FOR your Students- Part V: Reciprocating

This is Part IV in the series “Stepping it Up: Learning About Blogs FOR your Students

In a previous blog post, I talked about the importance of connecting your students’ blogs to others in order to:

  • keep motivation and engagement to writing high
  • communicate with an audience in a digital world via text, images, video and audio
  • connect with a global audience, across age levels, geographic and timezone boundaries
  • connect with peers and experts in specific subject areas or a wide range of areas of interest
In order to achieve any of these goals, we need to partner and rely on others. That is actually the point: Give our students an audience that is greater than one, others beyond their teacher…
So the big question remains:
How do you reach that QUALITY and CONSISTENT connection with others beyond that one time project or one or two blog posts?

So, if we are relying, even expect others (educators, mentors, etc.) to take the time to comment on OUR students’ blogs, we need to be prepared to reciprocate. It is a give and take. You will get the effort you put into reciprocating back.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word reciprocate as:

1: to give and take mutually
2: to return in kind or degree


Reciprocating is one of the most important components to make blogging with your students, as a global communication tool, work.

If we want our students to have an audience, we need to be the audience for others.

It is a cycle that needs to renew itself.  We need a commitment from teachers (who are blogging with their students) to contribute to that cycle, otherwise it will come to a screeching halt. By “it” , I mean the connections, conversation and amplification we are seeking via blogging for our students.

Reciprocation can take on the form of:

  • taking regular time to leave comments on other student blogs
  • teach your students to leave quality comments on other blogs with a link back to their own blog
  • be trustworthy and reliable when in a blogging project or partnership with other educators
  • take ownership of the quality of blog writing and commenting your students exhibit when connecting with others
  • formally volunteer to be a mentor teacher for other blogging classes or students

In a podcast interview, I recorded with Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay, Vicki shared one of the components of a successful global collaboration project. She talked about the commitment from all teachers involved, the commitment to accept the students from someone else as your own.

I believe that this is key. The reward as an educator comes from teaching others…not just the ones that are listed on your class roll. Your students will benefit as well, when other educators reciprocate to take your students under their wings. It is about teaching through the walls of our physical classroom!

What do you think about the importance of reciprocation when involved in student blogging?

How can your reciprocation contribute to the success of student blogging?

What shape has reciprocation taken on in your blogging adventure or how do you envision it for the future?



Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. Linda Yollis says:

    Silvia, you’ve hit the nail on the head…quality reciprocation is the key to building an audience! All the blogging relationships I’ve built with teachers, classrooms, and students have come from reciprocal commenting.

    Teachers often ask me how I have connected with so many classes around the world. The answer is through consistent quality commenting. When I started, I would visit lots of blogs and leave comments. I’d try to make a connection or add relevant information to a post, and I’d always end with a question. My hope was to engage the class in a conversation. If I would get a reply from the teacher/class, I would go back. If I got no response, I’d move on to other blogs and keep trying.

    Many teachers/classes not only responded in their comment section, but they would visit my class blog and connect. A comment that shows you’ve read the post and are interested in what’s happening in the classroom is much more valuable than “Our class loves your blog, please visit ours!” Of course, composing thoughtful comments takes time, but the payoff is tremendous!

    One of the first teachers I connected with was Kathleen Morris (@kathleen_morris). Through reciprocal quality commenting, we’ve built a relationship that spans four classes. Students regularly comment to each other, and two families from Kathleen’s Australian class visited our class when they vacationed in Los Angeles!

    I teach third grade and when my students earn their own blogs, they are excited to get that first red ClustrMap dot and a comment or two. I teach dedicated lessons about how to comment
    using our class blog, so by the time students have their own blogs, they have a good understanding of composing a quality comment.

    Before too long, I will hear a student complain, “No one is commenting on my blog.” My response to them is, “Hmm…well…whose blog have you been commenting on? Where did you leave your last comment?” They look a little sheepish as the light bulb goes on. In life, you have to give to get. If you want people visiting and connecting with you, you have to get out there and model what you want!

    Focusing on a few blogs is a good idea. It can be overwhelming to try and keep up with too many classes. Deputy Mitchell’s (@DeputyMitchell) Quadblogging idea is a great place to begin. http://quadblogging.net/

    There are so many wonderful global projects springing up. It’s tempting to join too many. I have found that if I over-schedule my class, we are not able to participate fully and that doesn’t help anyone. Budgeting your time and choosing projects that fit your schedule makes blogging and global projects more meaningful and enjoyable.

    Finally, I love your idea about mentoring student bloggers. Edublog’s Student Blogging Challenge is a wonderful place to volunteer your time. Following the Twitter hashtag #comments4kids is another way to support students.

    As you can see, I am passionate about educational blogging! I thank you, Silvia, for guiding and encouraging teachers to blog. It’s the best project I’ve seen in my twenty-five years in the classroom!

    Your friend,
    Linda Yollis

  2. This is another fabulous post about blogging – you just keep them coming!

    When my students earn their own blog, the first message I give them is they can’t expect to have comments on their blog if they never comment on other blogs. Reciprocation is a necessary ingredient of blogging.

    I love Vicki Davis’ ideas about accepting other students as your own. Although we’ve never put it into words, this is the exact philosophy I have with my closest blogging buddies. It is wonderful for everyone and brings really rich rewards!

    Keep up the fabulous posts – I will be recommending them to many.

    Kathleen Morris

  3. Jenni Parker says:

    Hello Silvia
    I just wanted to thank you for this series of blog posts. I am a strong believer/supporter of open resources, creative commons etc. When I design a learning experience I try to link to relevant information on the web. Two main reasons for this 1/ the content is there, so why re-invent the wheel and 2/ it connects my students to the real-world beyond the classroom (or LMS).

    I am running an online course for teachers in January (Authentic edesign) and yesterday I was researching information about blogging and came across your series. What fantastic timing. I have been following your work for sometime and often use your learning images on my websites.

    I will be linking to this series of posts, so many thanks for sharing. :)
    Best wishes, Jenni

  4. What a great comment by @lindayollis on @langwitches latest post about blogging & reciprocation http://t.co/g2p6hAvZ

  5. Love it! RT @kathleen_morris: What a great comment by @lindayollis on @langwitches post about blogging & reciprocation http://t.co/ONfRMcp0

  6. [...] Part V: Reciprocating (20/12/2011) [...]

  7. William Ferrel says:

    As always, great tips come only on langwitches.org ! Awesome post !

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