Building on 10 Golden Rules that Linda linked to at her blog as well as reminding us of the lasting consequences and unexpected results of being online, students need to know how to blog and comment both constructively and safely to be active contributors in their online community. On every blog of Kuropatwa that I visited, one of the first things a student or visitor reads is “This ongoing dialogue is as rich as YOU make it. Visit often and post your comments freely.”
Even though Lee Gomes says that allowing blog comments can “expose readers to the nasty underbelly of blogging,” commenting is half of what blogging is all about! Simply publishing writing online (Noon) is not blogging. Blogging is engaging with a reader, saying something that motivates them to question, express concerns, complaints, comments, compliments, confusions, uncertainties and other perspectives (Kuropatwa). The “nasty underbelly” can be circumvented by teaching students blogging and blog commenting etiquette and moderating posts and/or comments. I like the resources that Kuropatwa has compiled at The Mentorship Project for his student mentors including “The Artful Comment,” “Comment Starters” (Ann Davis), and “Art & Aspirations of a Commenter” (Lani Hall).
I also like Ms. Armstrong’s gentle reminder at S2 Consumer Math – AM:
Have fun, be creative, and remember this is a public forum. What you write represents yourself, your classmates, your teacher, and your school so blog responsibly and safely.
Glogowski models “readerly comments” that are separated from peer comments in the platform he uses with his 8th graders called 21 classes encouraging instructional conversations similar to discussion forums which become and integral part of blogging.
This does not mean that teacher comments are more important than those posted by the student’s classmates. In fact, my doctoral research suggests that peer comments can have a stronger impact on confidence, engagement, and development of writing skills than comments left by the teacher. However, having the peer and teacher comments arranged side by side, I believe, in learning to see every entry as an originator of activity that can lead to deep reflection. The students quickly learn that the same entry can generate different responses or responses that address the same aspects of the entry but from two different points of view.
bvjheard also pointed me to Think.com and Imbee.com, that dubs itself as a social network for young people but includes a blogging feature, both of which allow students to blog in a safe environment. Blogs can have different levels of participation – from wide open to only allowing comments from registered users or only being accessible to those with a password. To determine what blog provider I would choose to use with my students, I would need to spend more time exploring them. I would also engage students in a discussion of what is and is not appropriate in a public forum, perhaps working through the process in a wiki linking to our class blog or having them link to it from their individual blogs as a friendly reminder.