Should I Give This To My Students?

In a stack of papers called Technology.

  • Nov
  • 26
  • 2006

I’ve yet to start up the student commenting in this year’s blog project. While it’s been at the back of my mind, I simply haven’t walked students through the process I want them to use in order to track their comments (create an entry called “Comments” and post links to all comments there). Until I do that, I don’t want them wandering off and commenting – though maybe I should just turn them loose.

Reading an article over at 456 Brea Street got me thinking more about this (these, too). My mental list of commenting options has grown over the last few months and I finally set about writing them down; here’s the Word file of what’s included below. What am I missing? What am I dictating that I shouldn’t?

On a personal note, I am proud to count only 3 uses of passive verbs in what follows, the stuff quoted from Brea Street excepted (and I may yet rephrase those). The students won’t notice, but I feel like this has a whole different flow with more active verbs in place.

Commenting Guidelines

When you comment on someone else’s blog, realize that you hold a lot of power. Comments hurt just as easily as make you happy. Be careful with this power you wield. Right now, I see a few different ways to comment on each other’s blogs.

Comment On Style

Call attention to the ways the writing style affects you. If the poor syntax makes it hard for you to take the author seriously, point that out without sounding like a jerk. If the smooth writing makes you feel as if the author should be professionally published, state that without sounding like a suck up. More than just stating the obvious, work on crafting a comment that highlights something significant about the entry. A comment like this points out something that the rest of us should learn from and/or reflects on others’ writing styles as a result of the writing noticed here; this can include your own writing as well as other authors’.

Comment On Content

Maybe the connection expressed in the entry calls your attention for some reason, either because you agree or disagree. If you read the book under discussion, your opinion becomes even more worthwhile due to your expertise. Mention that you read the book and discuss what you think about the entry’s response to it. Beyond simply summarizing, this style of commenting offers to future readers some new interpretation of the entry and typically provides a reaction to which others can respond.

Comment For Dialogue

A comment engaging the author in a conversation provides possibly the largest reward a blog author can find. This shows that readers find the writing worthy of discussion. By leaving some questions along with proposed answers, you start a dialogue with the author (and anyone else reading). More than just a simple list of questions, though, a comment like this builds off of ideas expressed in the entry in order to extend the discussion with the author. Most blog entries contain a few loose threads, ideas not fully developed or problems not completely solved or observations not entirely proven. This type of comment attempts to tie those loose ends together by offering possible answers to things that confuse the author.

A Few Cautions

taken and rephrased from 456 Brea Street:
“Add value to the discussion. Consider if your comment will actually be of use to others reading your comment.”

“Avoid two-word comments. While getting appreciative comments is great, comments consisting of only ‘Great job,’ ‘Nice work,’ or ‘Love it’ don’t really say a lot.”

“Stay polite and civilized. Again, it’s perfectly fine to disagree on something, but be constructive about it or you’re out.”


1. Ben says:

[11/27/2006 - 2:09 pm]

Turning them loose might be an option; to see where they stand on commenting without guidance. You’d probably have plenty of examples to point out of constructive comments, as well as poor comments (or whatever you decide to call the short, unhelpful comments).

I like the way that there’s plenty of choice built into this system. I failed at that last year while blogging with my kids, and if I could go back and do it over I would set up the commenting guidelines to be more like what you have written. Content, Style, Dialogue make for good choices.

2. Laurie says:

[11/27/2006 - 10:36 pm]

I like the idea of Commenting Guidlines as well, especially the three areas. I think that the instructions are a little wordy. Will you offer some examples or give them time to practice so that they can get a concrete idea of how it will work?

3. Todd says:

[11/28/2006 - 10:18 am]

I wonder if that chaos of commenting is a good idea. My kids are responsible and have good ideas of my expectations, but I worry about just letting them all run without guidance. Then again, maybe I need to give them exactly that kind of freedom.

Something that I wrote is too wordy? Isn’t that always the case? I tried to keep the word count down, but I think I need to have all that explanation. I’ll look into chopping even more. I don’t think I’ll offer examples at first, but I’ll pull from their comments to use as examples as soon as I can.