This post is the third in an attempted series about getting started blogging loosely linked to the launch of glow blogs.

Conversation by Rishi Menon
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I’e always considered blogging to be 3 pronged activity, providing purpose, gaining an audience and starting a conversation. All of these factors can motivate pupils. Blogging can be seen as a ‘real’ activity, writing for a world outside the classroom. It has a real audience who may start a conversation through comments.

Back in the day when I first started blogging at Sandaig there was not a lot of other classroom blogging going on, none at all in Scotland. This gave my class a bit of an advantage in gaining comments and we picked up a few folk who my class felt they had a relationship to. ‘Andy from Aberdeen’ who regularly added a good number of comments to our new blog and after a while Carol Fuller who became our fairy blogmother!

Comments added a lot to our blogging and podcasting in those days. Now with blogs popping up all over the place, the landscape has changed a bit. One one hand there is a bigger potential audience than before but that audience has more choice.

For a teacher who is already active online gaining an audience is not to difficult, they can publish links and requests for comments on their own blog or through twitter. If you get picked up by the right folk you can gather a lot of comments, i recently and responded to a twitter request for comments on a pupil blog as did many others, in a couple of days the pupils 68 word post had 45 comments!

A lot of the new blogs that are popping up now are not necessarily being run by teachers who have spent a lot of time in creating an online network so how do they get comments for their class? I’d suggest a few basic ideas:

  • In the process of explaining blogs to the class visit other blogs and as a class make comments.
  • Once your class are blogging confidently have them individually comment on other blogs.
  • As a teacher visit a couple of class blogs every week, leave a comment or two. Think of this as a sort of cross marking exercise.
  • As a class visit a particular blog regularly, find one that ‘fits’ in with your class and perhaps some sort of regular commenting will build up.
  • If something on another blog stimulates your pupils curiosity , ask questions, try out the activity, blog about it( example).
  • Respond to comments on your own blog. Often this will provide a useful learning activity and some fun.
  • Get in touch with another blogging teacher, do some lightly joined up planning.

In all of this commenting activity leave the url to your blogs in the URL field of the comment form. Teach the children to copy and paste this rather than typing it in, it is easy to make a typo, or put a semi colon instead of a colon and break the link.

Don’t assume that because children find the technology simple that they will write good comments, in the same way as with blog posts, they need advice and modelling. Some teachers might like to provide rules or a check list:

  1. Is the comment relevant? is it worth saying? (just cool is probably not).
  2. Is it generally positive & friendly? I suggest 2 stars and a wish for classmates work.
  3. Would you like a comment like this?
  4. Is the spelling and punctuation a good reflection on the commenter?

Anne Davis provides some comment starters: EduBlog Insights » Blog Archive » Thinking about the teaching of writing which are well worth sharing with pupils, I think I used to have them displayed on the wall.

If you are looking for somewhere to find blogs ScotEduBlogs aggregates blogs from across Scotland.
Glow blog list can be found for each local authority, for example the url for North Lanarkshire is: each of the other LAs has its own initials at the end of the url (full list).
Further Afield Tom Barrett has be collecting primary class blogs on delicious which provides a great list.

If you know of other ways to encourage commenting you could leave me a comment;-)

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