Photo: example of offline comment thread (John Henderson, 2015)
For my very first blogging lesson, I decided to start slow and have a discussion about the ‘blogging language’. I introduced and discussed words like ‘post, site, page, thread, highjack, feeder comments, links, plugins and widgets’ so that students were familiar with some of the terminology. The students have a copy of these words and can select them for their home learning word study in order to become more familiar with them and their meaning.
We went a little further into the discussion on ‘commenting’ and then I read out a piece of student work. We pretended that it was an online ‘post’ and I rested it on a table. We then discussions appropriate commenting (positive and constructive) and discussed the ‘tone’ of writing thoughts compared with saying them and also discussed the ‘permanency’ of commenting and posting online. This led to an interesting discussion about your personal digital footprint.
We discussed appropriate commenting techniques and I drew attention to hijacking threads and the importance of providing feeder comments at the end of a post.
We did two paper trails on the same writing sample ‘post’. In the first paper trail, I got the students to just go off and write a comment at the same time and bring it back and ‘post’ it below the student work ‘post’. The students instantly noticed that the thread of comments was long, repetitive and didn’t really make any sense, despite the good content in some of the comments. So, then we did it again, however, this time I let one student ‘post’ their comment leaving a feeder for the next post and then had another student respond and leave a feeder at the end of their post, etc. One by one the students added their comments; with a connection to the previous post and a feeder for the next post. It was helpful in beginning to see the ‘conversation’ that was taking place in the comments. This time the comments weren’t just ad hoc, but formed a conversation; a story with a clear message that would be of some benefit for the person who posted their piece of work.
I am glad that I began the journey with blogging this way as the discussion was deep and the outcomes were beneficial. I am thinking that I will have the students jump onto their blogs in the next lesson and begin to have a bit of a structured play. How did you begin your blogging journey?