Making Blogging Visible

As I am speaking of the benefits of blogging as a professional and student, I sometimes wonder if the word “blogging” is not a word we speak as we talk at cross-purposes with other educators.

When I use the word “blogging”, I am NOT seeing :

  • technology
  • a project
  • an add-on to the curriculum content.

When I use the word “blogging”, I am seeing:

  • learning how to read and write in digital spaces
  • the possibility of writing for an authentic global audience
  • a platform for reflection, investigation, documentation and curation
  • a platform that supports and amplifies modern skills and literacies

On the tails of Visible Thinking Routines for Blogging, comes this new blog post that wants to make Blogging VISIBLE!

A few days Blake Wile tweeted “Actual screenshots of blogs are so useful”


So, I am continuing to highlight, screenshoot and annotate to make it VISIBLE what I think,  when I say “blogging”. There is value in auditing blog posts and comments transparently in order to help other educators in the process of understanding the value of blogging in all area of learning. I am not adding assessment for traditional writing skills (grammar, vocabulary, genres, etc. )to the scenarios below, trusting that teachers will see and find ways to use blog posts/comments for formative assessment of these traditional skills and objectives.  I am placing emphasis on modern skills and literacies as well as the goal of transformational use of blogging as a platform to support these objectives in ways that traditional paper and pencil could can’t do.

Scenario 1: Connections (to other people as well as resources)

A sixth grade Humanities student, writes a blog post during the study of Apartheid in South Africa. His post shows evidence of connecting his thinking to other learning experiences and to further resources, by hyperlinking (one instance, moving up along the Taxonomy of hyperlinks)


He receives a comment from a classmate,  that alters his thinking. She not only points out the parts of his post, that she agrees/disagrees with, but she ADDS to his thoughts. The commenter is actively looking to continue a conversation with the author of the post. It will become part of the learnflow (in time…) Although he does not respond to the commenter directly as a reply to her comment, he shows evidence of reading and embedding her thoughts into his own thinking by leaving a comment on another classmate’s post.

He refers back to the comment that was left for him. [In time…] he will also leave a (hyper)link to the original comment that was left, to follow his train of thought.

PicCollage- comments

Scenario 2: Process

In another 6th grade class, the teacher asked students to take notes on a Popplet, document their understanding of a topic at different points of the unit.They visually mark their notes by color coding bubbles, changing the colors after another learning activity or resource explored on the topic.

Using the popplet as their notes, students write a blog post reflection/summary of their understanding  at different points in time.

  1. The first summary being written after a “visual gallery walk”, where student were exposed to images about the topic
  2. The second summary after a text source
  3. Third summary after further reading of different perspectives on the topic

The image below models the next step of asking students to make their learning process and (potential)  growth VISIBLE.

soweto uprising

Students were asked to create their own annotated screenshot of the 3 summaries from their blog and color code facts, insecurities in their knowledge, incorrect facts that they believed to be true and cause and effect of events. The screenshot image below was created with Skitch

soweto- process visual

Scenario 3: Process

In a Media Basics’ class, students  document and reflect on the process of creating and learning, not just a final product. In addition, giving and receiving feedback becomes part of the workflow and learnflow. Not only does the feedback come from more than one person (traditionally a teacher), but it also allows the person who GIVES the feedback to see that it he/she had an impact on the work.

In time, the posts will include content specific vocabulary, with evidence of using them in appropriate context as well as explanations. The posts will CONNECT with (hyper)links to previously written posts and reflections, showing evidence of growth in skills.

Media Basics-process1


Scenario 4: Commenting (beyond isolated opinions and non-value added compliments)

Another example from my Media Basic class. I made commenting part of our classroom routine. Students READ and LEAVE QUALITY FEEDBACK for their classmates. This could become part of warm-up work, an exit ticket, review or homework.

As I  leave feedback for individual students, I  model commenting for my students at the same time.  Emphasis is placed on connecting to the conversation that is going on in the comment sections and adding value to the original post for the author  (and other readers) by giving constructive feedback supported by examples. In time… as receiving and leaving comments becomes ingrained, so will writing with an audience in mind.



The sample scenarios above are from Middle school classrooms. Take a look at a previous blog post, titled Assessment in the Modern Classroom: Part Three- Blog Writing or Quality Blogging and Commenting Audit meme  solicited further links to blog writing and commenting audit  as a form of assessment in an elementary school classroom. ( by Stef Galvin, Andrea Hernandez, Sheri Edwards, Tracy Watanabe, Kathryn Trask, Shauna Hamman)

Do you have samples, screenshots and annotations for High School? Why not share and link to them in the comment section?