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Comments are a form of public discourse that can be taught, practiced, and learned in a safe space. We all know the kind of comments that embarrass us with their negativity or inappropriateness on Youtube or even in the local newspaper. Comments should not be a form of public hate mail or oneupmanship. Nor should they be meaningless yammering. Comments should encourage the conversation initiated by a blog, not shut it down.

One Model

Susan asks her students to write at least two comments on two different students’ blog posts for each blogging "round." (All comments are reviewed by the teacher before posting, at least at first.) They can write many more if they choose! Commenting is important to blogging -- it makes the writer’s sense of audience real! It also adds the sense of a public conversation, connection, and interactivity. Transparency and choosing one’s words carefully become equally important! Students learn how to extend the conversation rather than just “hit and run” with a quick jab or “like.” We also think its very important that students not assume the role of the teacher when writing comments; rather, they should understand that a public blog is not the place for peer review or personal commentary. We stress that comments should be as close as possible to "error-free" as a way to encourage students to review their work (especially as comments are written so quickly) and reinforce the grammar instruction we have given in class. Students want their comments to be published, so this approach allows us to give a quick personal "just in time" lesson just when the student is highly motivated to improve.

Sample Instructions:

Read several other blog posts by your classroom peers. You are required to comment on at least two. Please comment on students other than your best friends. Share the love! All writers want to know that someone is out there listening! A comment is not a critique; instead, it extends the conversation, asks questions, or shares a different perspective, point of view, or interpretation. Each comment earns up to 5 pts. Assuming you earn a full 45 pts. for each blog post, you must complete two excellent comments to earn 100 pts. for blogging each quarter. Comments should be error free, appropriate in tone, and completely lacking in evaluative remarks (good or bad), or they may not be posted. You can, of course, say how something made you feel personally, but should not judge it in a "teacherly" way.

Try to develop each comment fully according to the following guidelines:

  • 1 pt. -- Makes a simple or obvious statement.
    • I had the same idea.

  • 2 pts. -- Provides a more detailed observation.
    • I was interested in your comment that the dog seemed to know tricks already.

  • 3 pts. -- Asks a question or extends the conversation.
    • I was interested in how the dog seemed to know tricks already. How did you know this?

  • 4 pts. -- Quotes a specific passage; shares additional information from your experience or other sources; can include links.
    • I was interested in your comment that “the dog already knew tricks.” The detail that he sits on command really makes this clear for me. I wonder if you tried any other commands with him?

  • 5 pts. -- All of the above, plus deeper thinking.
    • I really connected with your comment that “the dog already knew tricks.” Mine did too! Did you try any other commands with him other than the “sit” command included in your description? I ask because my cousin is a dog trainer, and I have worked with him a lot. Here is a good website about training dogs to respond to commands: __“52 Tricks to Teach Your Dog.”__ I feel that we can learn a lot about ourselves, especially how we learn, when we try to teach dogs.

  • Deleted (0 pts.):
    • Nice job, you piece of doggie doo you. I wud work on your comma errs, but other than that this is grate!!!!!!!