In a WizIQ seminar a conversation about blog comments recently took place with several teachers in my school division and Kelly Christopherson. Teachers said comments that indicated an understanding of their key ideas, provided a quality critique, or shared a similar learning or action extended their own understanding and learning.
Many students within our school division are now blogging as part of their daily classroom activities. As teachers have become more comfortable with the online writing format they want to extend the audience and the conversations for their students first by encouraging them to comment on classmates’ writing and then by finding other classrooms that their students can connect, write and share their learning.
While they recognize the value that commenting brings to the blogging process many teachers struggle to explain and teach students how to make meaningful comments on others’ writing.
An ahah moment occurred one day when I was working in a teacher’s classroom and saw a number of posters on Reading Comprehension Strategies on her wall. I then had a conversation with the Language and Literacy Consultant who also became quite excited at how reading and commenting on the blog posts of their peers could enhance student utilization of the reading comprehension strategies. She suggested that teachers could help primary and early bloggers use the reading comprehension strategies by choosing one strategy and having the whole class use that strategy to comment on their classmates’ posts.
Having students use the reading comprehension strategies to comment helps them to avoid words like nice, good and interesting in their comments.
Make Connections – e.g. after reading a blog about a puppy students use a sentence starter “this reminds me of when my puppy did….”
Question – asking questions that use starters such as, “I didn’t understand this…” “I wonder what…”
Other reading comprehension strategies can be used to respond to student blog posts:
Visualization – if an entry supports visualization – have the student draw a picture and then describe it.
Infer – (for older students) – look for inferences that the writer makes – e.g. if the blogger writes with passion – comment on the evidence that allows them to make the inference or “I see that you have lots of knowledge about this topic” and again provide the evidence.
Synthesize – paraphrase – transfer the statement from the blog into their world – “what you said makes me think about this idea in my world – how this applies to me”.
Blogging is a great communication tool but it is the use of effective commenting skills that will extend and engage global conversations for our students.