Friday, November 9, 2012

Writing Commenting Policies for Student Blogs

Assessments come in many forms and should be ongoing. As students develop knowledge and skills and build their schemas about the world, they are better able to articulate their understanding of complex ideas. One goal of student blogfolios is to help students recognize quality- in both their own work and the work of others. Our 4th and 5th graders have been working with the idea of quality blog commenting for three years. As teachers, one way we help our students understand quality is to provide rubrics or other guidelines and expectations. One way to assess understanding of quality comments is to have them provide guidelines for others. We did this by having each 4th and 5th grade student create a commenting policy for his or her blog.

First we discussed the concept- what is a commenting policy? Why have one on your blog? 5th grade had a lively debate on whether a commenting policy would hold people back from leaving a comment at all. This sparked a discussion about quality vs. quantity (is it better to have a lot of "junky" comments on your blog or less comments in number but more thoughtful in content?) as well as a great discussion about word choice or media and tone of message matters (inviting vs. bossy).
Here are some notes from the discussion with 4th graders:

What is a policy?
A policy is guidelines or rules you have to follow in order to do something. -Ayden
Why write a commenting policy?
-to limit the junky comments
-you're helping people who might want to leave a comment
-to tell people what you want to expect from a comment
-you can help people be better at writing comments
-to show that you want quality comments on your blog
How will you prepare to write your commenting policy?
First look at a few examples. Here are some student blogs with written guidelines for commenting. Take a few minutes to read (or watch) them carefully. As you are reading (or watching) pay attention to what works or doesn't work for you. Start to form ideas of what you will include in your commenting policy and how you create it.
Guess What?'s Blog This one uses an animated video to share commenting guidelines
•Make a new page for your commenting policy.

The students embraced the process and were given their choice of tools. The products show each student's understanding of and ability to communicate the idea of quality comments.

Julia's Quality Commenting Policy from MJGDS Classrooms on Vimeo.

Jonah's Commenting Policy

Itamar's Commenting Policy

Comments from MJGDS Classrooms on Vimeo.


Shira Leibowitz said...

Hi Andrea,
I am so impressed with how your students have taken ownership of ways they expect others to engage respectfully in dialogue with them. The lessons seem to be quite far reaching, placing students in the position of expert in the ways of engaging with others with respect. More than a lesson in commenting on blogs, this is a journey in strengthening commitment to core values. Thanks so much for sharing!

Amanda Christopher said...

This is a wonderful way to help students improve their writing by both examining their own work and others'. And you take it a step further by having students create their own rubric. I enjoyed looking over your students' samples. Thanks for sharing!