Commenting: Learning to Blog FOR your Students

This is the third post in a series of seven blog posts digging deeper into learning about blogging FOR your students.

  1. Reading Blog
  2. Writing Blogs
  3. Commenting on Blogs
  4. Connecting Blogs
  5. The Reciprocation Factor
  6. The Consistency Factor
  7. The Quality Factor

Students and Teachers as Commenters

Commenting is a great introduction to student writing on blogs. It does not require planning to write an entire blog post. Commenting can 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

Model commenting

  • 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.

Model writing

  • 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.

One of my former students wrote the following blog post about her thoughts regarding commenting

How to Make A Quality Comment by Zoe

When you comment on my blog I want your comments to be memorable. I want them to represent you, so even if I don’t know you, I will feel as if I do.When you comment on a blog you want it to be unique. To make it a quality comment it has to have fancy words such as instead of writing, “That is a pretty butterfly.”which is what 1st graders could do ,write” What a lovely butterfly! I love how its wings are all sparkly. I would enjoy it if you could teach me how. Did you know that a butterfly’s wing is its most fragile part?” That already is a better comment. To make a comment better, add on to the post, writing a new bit of information, it makes it a quality comment. Also, links help, if you find a website that has something to do with the topic someone is blogging about, put the link. Here is how you put a link on your blog: <a href=”link”>words you want to be the link</a> That is how you make a quality comment.

Craft an Acceptable Commenting Etiquette for Your Classroom Needs

Your classroom blog is an extension of your physical learning space and community.

The age of your students, special needs and personalities all 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.

4th Grade Commenting Etiquette

Andrea Hernandez, in her Language Arts class, had her 4th and 5th graders design and create their own commenting policy for their student blogfolios. This is a fantastic opportunity to give students ownership.

Take a look at the examples below to get inspired how you can involve your own students.

Anna’s Awesome Blog

Elli M’s Extraordinary Portfolio

I am going to tell you my rules about commenting on my blog.

  1. Make Sure It Is Quality
  2. Address The Author
  3. Always Start With A Compliment
  4. Mutual Respect, Think Before You Speak
  5. Do Not Use Text Talk
  6. Do Not Share Personal Information
  7. If You Get A Comment, Comment Back
  8. Keep It Appropriate
  9. Stay On Topic
  10. Reread Your Comment Before You Post

A quality comment should not be a sentence that says “I really like your post,” because I want to know why you like the post. Explain your reasons. That means instead of just going ahead and saying ‘I liked your post because…’ I want you to start out by saying Dear_______ or Hey________. Always start with a compliment. You want to make the author of the post happy about their work before you start talking. Don’t say mean things that will hurt other people’s feelings.   Think about these things before you start writing: Is it true, is it kind, and is it helpful. Don’t use text talk because people might not understand you, and younger kids might start writing like that. Examples of text talk: r instead of are or our gr8 instead of great plz instead of please u instead of you thx instead of thanks and many more… Publishing personal information on the Internet is not safe.  When you want to put information out on the Internet you should remember these simple little rules.  Writing your full name on the Internet is not safe and you should never do that.  Only write your first name and last initial.  Don’t write your exact address on the Internet ever, just your state or city. If you get a comment, comment back in within a week.   You don’t want to be rude to your readers and you want the conversation to keep flowing between you and your commenters.   If you have more than ten comments maybe you could write another post and write a comment on the first post telling people that there is a “sequel” to the first post. You do not need to know why you have to keep your comments appropriate.  If you don’t keep your comment appropriate on my blog I will spam your comment.  That means you will not be able to comment on my blog. When you comment on a post, keep your comment on topic.  You don’t want to confuse other people who are reading your comment. Always reread your comments before you post them, because you want people to think that you are a high quality writer, not a sloppy writer.   Remember, once your comment is posted anyone can see it.   Rereading helps when you are doing any type of writing.   If you reread, you might find mistakes that you have not noticed before.   It also helps if you decide to change something.

Here Is An Example Of A Quality Comment:

This quality comment comes from my friend Danny’s blog by his grandfather. For Danny -” Pop Pop Stan’s Adventures As A Dog Sitter” Pop Pop Stan’s neighbors asked whether he would mind dog sitting for the weekend while they went on a camping trip? Of course Pop Pop Stan eagerly answered YES.YES. The dog’s name is Jack and Jack is a small white terrier. Jack is a great dog and he knows it. Jack belongs to Skylar age 14 and her sister Brooke age 12. The adventure begins when Pop Pop Stan had to get up at six a.m. on Saturday morning to begin caring for Jack. Pop Pop Stan was still tired and sleepy, Jack was raring to go. Pop Pop Stan put the leash on Jack and off we went. Dogs like to mark every where they go, Jack would take Pop Pop Stan up to a fire hydrant or light post and pee on it , this was Jack’s way of telling other dogs “Yes this was his domain”. After Jack peed on many, many, many fire hydrants and light post he would hunt for grass and herbs to eat on peoples lawns. He would stop and try this and that, a very fussy nibbler. Jack, would bark at and want to go after birds, rabbits and squirrels and Pop Pop Stan had to hold his leash tight so he wouldn’t get away. After some time Jack would decide he wanted to poop and he would poop and poop. Pop Pop Stan would have to clean up and bag the poop to dispose of it in the trash. Pop Pop Stan took Jack to our fenced in yard and let him run, Jack loves to play. Pop Pop Stan bought Jack a toy, a ball attached to a rope so that Jack could case the ball, put it in his mouth and Pop Pop Stan could pull him around. Jack loved the ball and tugging on it. Of course Jack needs to eat and he did not like the food Skylar and Brooke had left for him. Pop Pop Stan had to find something Jack would like eating. After trying many, I mean many different dog foods and treats Jack chose a beef and chicken speciality. Yum, Yum. Pop Pop Stan had to walk and feed Jack breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacks too. Aunt Debbie would walk with us at lunch, Jack liked Aunt Debbie’s company. Jack on one of our walks managed to get out of his leash and ran off. He thought this was wonderful fun. We we live there are many road with cars going by fast and Jack just ran. I would call for Jack and he would stop for a minute look at me I think he even smiled and then ran off. Finally after quite a game of chase I was able to get Jack back on his leash. Once when we took Jack out for a walk he decided he did not want to walk, lay down, would not get up and Pop Pop Stan had to pick up like a baby and carry him home. Can you imagine Pop Pop Stan carrying Jack, if Jack was a big dog what would I have done? Our house is right across the street from Skylar and Brooke’s and Jack would sit on the window sill and look for me or Aunt Debbie and if he saw us bark to get our attention so we would play with him. Once when I went to get Jack he was sitting on the sofa chewing on a pillow, he missed Skylar and Brooke this was his therapy, his release. I thoroughly enjoyed caring for Jack even though he involved a lot of time, care and definite schedule rearranging. Jack gave absolute attention and lots of love. Danny, you are a wonderful and responsible young man and one day when you have your own home if you still want one you can get a dog.
All of our LOVE. Bubby Ileene, Pop Pop Stan and Aunt Debbie.

You don’t have to make your comment this long, but try to make it at least 4 sentences. Thank you for reading my commenting guidelines, I hope you use these rules when commenting on my blog and on others.

Action Steps

  • Articulate and prioritize characteristics of a quality comment for your students’ age or grade level.
  • How would you facilitate the creation of a commenting etiquette with your students?
  • Search for Twitter for #comments4kids and follow the link to leave a quality comment for another student.
  • Create your own quality commenting rubric.

This was the third post in a series of seven blog posts digging deeper into learning about blogging FOR your students.

  1. Reading Blog
  2. Writing Blogs
  3. Commenting on Blogs
  4. Connecting Blogs
  5. The Reciprocation Factor
  6. The Consistency Factor
  7. The Quality Factor