Friday, April 17, 2009

#Comments4Kids Wednesdays

This post was supposed to be a rant on my perceived lack of support by the twitter education community in regards to student blogging. Not that they are against student blogging, that isn't the problem. The problem is many don't want to take time to comment on students' blogs.

As an adult, I love to get comments on my posts. It is important to me to know that what I say matters to others. I covet comments! Students aren't any different. They want to know someone cares about what they have to say too. Yes, they do get feedback from their teachers, but is that enough?

I tell my students all the time that blogs give them an audience they don't have with writing on paper and pencil. They have an audience that is theoretically as large as the world population. Do you think they want to put their ideas out for everyone to see? That is such a scary idea! How do you think they feel when they finally do it, but no one notices?

The idea came during a Twitter conversation with Carey Pohanka, @capohanka, a middle school teacher from Fredericksburg, VA. I had tried twice to get some fellow tweeters to post comments on her blog (see above), and she let me know that a couple (wonderful) teachers left some comments. Then she wrote this:

Then I get a message from Derek Smith ,@lovinteachin, a fifth grade teacher from Colorado Springs that said:
That was how #Comments4Kids started. Each Wednesday we ask for those of you that twitter to identify and tweet one blog post by a student that deserves to be commented on. It could be a student that posts something really awesome, or a student in your class that needs encouragement. Simply tag it as #Comments4Kids. Don't forget to do your part as well. If you see a link with that tag, click on it and leave a quick comment. Your time and effort will have a huge impact on the student that wrote the post.

Here is the link to follow the #Comments4Kids blog recommendations.

@jlamshed started a wiki for us to add our links. It can be found at:


Terri Johnson said...

Great idea! I've followed your thread of discussion throughout the day and completely agree. Everyone (I hope) that writes a blog looks forward to what others have to say. Thanks for starting this.

Jarrod Lamshed said...

I completely agree that kids blogs need to be supported. As blogging teachers we know how frustrating and disappointing it is when we put work into a post an no-one comments. If we feel this way, then kids are also going to feel this. I think that #comments4kids is a great idea and will hopefully get some more comments flowing for our junior bloggers.

I know that I don't comment on kids blogs as often as I would like. Finding the time to comment on any blogs is sometimes difficult and I tend to concentrate on those I have partnerships with and visit regularly. I'm sure that other teachers are in the same position. This is always going to be the way and with more and more being added to our teaching loads, I don't see this problem going away any time soon.

Taking all of this into account, is relying on teachers to comment the best way to support student blogs? I think it is DEFINITELY important and we should all do our best to comment where we can, but I think it is equally (if not more) important to teach our students how to promote their own work. As a teacher I use twitter to announce my new posts and to try head traffic my way. Twitter may not be the right tool for kids (or maybe it is?) but there have to options out there for kids to take control of their own promotion. I know if I get a comment on my blog I will ALWAYS try and link back and return the favour.

Carey Pohanka said...

Mr.C--I love the post and I am glad that we didn't have to get the ranting one! It will be a great opportunity to get an audience for our student bloggers.

One more thought...

Let's take it to the next level!

I also see it as a chance for teachers to find other blogging classes for their students to collaborate with. What if you had your students leave comments for #comments4kids links? I know my students would LOVE that!

Louisa Guest said...

ditto al the above sentiments...send the good postings my way :)

Manaiakalani said...

That is a great idea to have this hashtag to support kids' blogging. Thanks for blogging about it and I will look out for it. Blogging is so powerful for students and anything that strengthens this deserves all educators full support.

Marcy said...

I posted on every student blog listed on Mr. C's blog, and I was happy to do it and it was fun. Also, many of the students have not posted in weeks, one since October. Perhaps they can be encouraged to post something more current?

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Marcy Thanks for posting on the student blogs. Those blogs are actually personal blogs my students started outside of school. Most of them are now no longer in my class and don't have access to the computers like they did last year. They are also busy posting on @jkmcclung's class ning which I don't have linked.

@Carey another great idea. It is my fault my students don't comment more. I haven't made time for them to do so. I am going start giving them time to do it!

@Jarrod You are right about self-promotion. Unfortunately, most adults haven't done a very good job promoting their sites either. Maybe we should start a wiki for the blogs listed in #comments4kids so we have someplace to point others to.

NZWaikato said...

Another great idea - one thing that I do find frustrating is finding active and up to date websites that people are using. There's a lot of dead space out there or places where blogs just go to die. I realise that in theory they can stay forever but what's going to happen to all those blogs?

Cheryl Oakes said...

This speaks to the fact that having a Twitter account gives you a huge network of support. I know for people who have a classblogmeister account and have joined the ning or the list serve can ask for blogging partners. The same with epals and edublogs, you have a built in network.Now with Twitter, we all have access to many people who will support our efforts. This is a great idea!

John said...

I think this is a fantastic idea in more ways than one. In their minds, online dialog doesn't go much beyond the trivial conversations they have with friends using AIM, Facebook, etc... ("Hey What's up?"). It's important for kids to realize that their thoughts and ideas can spark discussion at a deeper level.

At the same time, blogging is narcissistic in nature. I'll freely admit to checking my own blog several times a day for new comments - and how exciting it is when one shows up! I look forward to sharing that feeling with my students (and yours!) on Wednesday!

Mr. Kelly said...

I'm overjoyed that I discovered #Comments4Kids! I do a project with my 5th graders called Globally Connected, and I've been searching for a way to tie in direct, cross cultural conversations, and this feels so promising.

I still am curious how you assess the posts your students make.

John Hadley Strange said...

Here I am reading this post and reflecting on my history with commenting and comments4kids not quite a year later. I encountered Mr. C because one of my students left a comment on his blog in March 2009 (just before this was written) for reasons that are unclear to me. My assignment for my students (aspiring to be teachers) was to find blogs by an elementary teacher in the US and write a post about it on the student's blog. Mr. C found her blog (she had not left a URL) and left her a comment. When checking her work for my class I saw his comment to her about the importance of blogging and leaving comments. I copied his comment and posted it in the class blog for all to see. I then emailed Mr. C and told him what I had done and thanked him for his response. He had 2 things to say to me: "John, do you Twitter?" and "You should participate in comments4kids." So that must have been at the exact time this post was written.

My teaching has changed, my class has changed, my life has changed, yes my life, as a result of that question and that, what shall I say, "command?". I am so grateful to Mr. C for his two suggestions. Thank you sir!

The story continues and if you have any questions about blogging and commenting, take a look at the history of two events in blogging and commenting that took place in the fall 2009 semester of edm310. Mr. C's efforts to "educate" me certainly paid off. You can find these stories at Kaia and Room 10: Why Blogging and Commenting on Blogs Are So Important.

Thank you again Mr. C. I cannot thank you enough!

Lee Kolbert said...

Excellent idea!!! Thank you for suggesting it. I'm trying to promote it as well. Thanks!

Sharon said...

I also try to comment on any blogs that are posted on twitter from students. I think the authenticity is important to them as well as expanding their outlooks.

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Lee and @Sharon Thanks for leaving the comments. The more people commenting, the better the posts IMO :)

mssanderson_ITS said...

Finally, reading the background/thought process on this great idea that I've seen on Twitter. I will definitely give it a whirl!

John Hadley Strange said...

The most powerful tool in teaching, in my opinion, is using blogs and commenting on other blogs! Mr. C. taught me that. It has changed my teaching, my student's learning, some of my students lives (Just ask them. They will tell you how), and my life.


Kidsmomo said...

What a wonderful idea! We run a blog that's not affiliated with a particular classroom, but we facilitate a way for kids to post their book reviews online. To reward the kids who submit particularly good reviews, we feature them in our bi-weekly podcasts. The idea is the same as peer commenting -- to recognize thoughtful and well-written reviews and motivate kids to continue reading and posting. I'm excited to explore the links in your Comments4Kids directory and add ours!

jesica farnandez said...
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Leslie Lim said...

I read your blog.I thought it was great.. Hope you have a great day. God bless.


Annette Jordan said...

I read your blog. It is true blogging give a worldwide audience. This is scary and exciting at the same time! If student know that their blogs are being read they will take time to make their blog relevant and interesting. The scary part is making sure that it is well written. However, I thinking if students are commenting, blogging isa positive tool for communication.

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