Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blogging: Starting With Comments

How does a teacher with no experience begin blogging with middle school students? Here’s another idea?


First, we reviewed Internet Safety since we already use wikis. ( is great)

I asked students a question or asked them to respond to a quote. While reading about Martin Luther King, Jr, students chose a quote from his work. Students wrote the quote on an index card and explained why they chose the quote or what they thought about the quote. Then we passed the card to the student on the left, and that student read the card and added a sticky note comment. The note needed to be at least three sentences, refer or quote something from the original text, and be “overly positive.” We handed the card and comment to the left again, and that student read the comment and the card. We continued passing to the left and adding sticky note comments, which could comment on the original text or any of the comments.

As we passed the work along, student comments became longer and better as they read other comments that were better than some who had not followed our protocol and simply wrote, “I agree.” By the time every one had commented on every one else’s card, all students had written at least one good comment.


When the original writer received the card, they chose and shared the comments that helped them think more or caused them to want to add to their original ideas. One student, a very active youngster, proceded to notate every one of his comments by placing a sticky note on the back of each of the sticky notes on his card!

We talked about how each one had added to the conversation, how their positive words (even if they disagreed, but positively) demonstrated their own character as well as their ideas, and how they had become a small community on the topic of MLK.


Next, we looked at a new site called Tween Tribune (, a site for students and teachers with kid-friendly news feeds on which to comment or add their own stories. We read comments and critiqued them, noticing some grammatical errors and mostly that some comments did not add to the conversation.

Of course, the students began asking to make their own comments. We completed two comments together to see how to do it — and we decided to use the fantastic “check spelling” aspect every time!

Students have been commenting for two weeks.

Our next goal: write a class news story.

Just a few small steps (Internet Safety, commenting protocol, note-card practice) and we began the blogging journey. Have fun!

Note: Students names are pseudonyms.
Sample Comment Template from Youth Voices