Student blogging and peer commenting is a great way to cultivate good digital citizens. But it all begins with building your classroom community.
It’s important to build classroom community before you get your class up and blogging. You want to create a classroom environment where students feel comfortable to take risks in front of their peers and ultimately a global audience. You want to develop a mutual respect among students where they will learn to respect each other’s voice. When students feel comfortable with one another, they will be able to peer edit their writing in a positive, constructive way. A couple of ways you can build your classroom community are:
- Morning Meeting
- Have students create classroom rules or contract
- Classroom discussion of what a classroom looks like, sounds like, feels like, etc.
- Partner introductions
- Bucket filling
- Daily character journal
These are just a few out of many ideas. There are so many great resources out there for building a positive risk-taking classroom community.
The second priority to accomplish before having your class blog, is to teach several lessons about digital citizenship. The best way is to consistently discuss what makes a good citizen. What does it actually mean to be a citizen or to show citizenship? This will lead into a discussion on how that relates to what they do on the internet. It would be a good idea to revisit this topic with your class throughout the year. Talk with your class about the different uses of technology and how they have been greatly beneficial. Technology is an amazing tool but if not used correctly, can be ineffective.
You will need to explain to students that they will be leaving a comment on other students’ writing. I like to bring up my Kidblog account and show them what a comment is and the purpose of leaving a comment on someone else’s blog post. Then, as a class, we come up with different feedback sentence starters for leaving positive and constructive comments. I like to list their ideas on a large sheet of paper and post it in my room or in the computer lab where it is visible. I also have students copy the list down in their Writing Journal, that way they can refer back to the list when needed. After a lot of modeling and a lot of intentional practice, students will no longer need the list. I title the list as “Tell me Something Good”. Some ideas for your list would be:
- Can you tell me how you___________?
- I really like the part where ______________.
- Next time, you should try _________________.
- You did an awesome job at ______________.
- I really like when you _____________________.
- Continue to __________________________.
Try and find moments throughout the day where you can model giving a thoughtful specific comment and give students a chance to give each other feedback. The most important thing is to model, model, and model. It will be difficult at first to get your students to think more along the lines of constructive feedback rather than just compliments. It will take a lot of practice, but it won’t be long before they are doing it without even noticing. And they’ll be well on their way to being good digital citizens.
Photo Credit: Frog Huddle by Popofatticus; CC BY license via flickr