Welcome to the fourth step in our free professional learning series on class and student blogging!
- Explain how comments are used on class blogs.
- Provide tips for teaching students quality commenting skills.
Why comments are important
Kathleen Morris has shared some thoughts on why comments count in a blog post:
- Comments turn your blog from a static space to an interactive space.
- They allow for back and forth conversation which can lead to a huge amount of learning.
- The fact that comments aren’t instantaneous (like online chat) can fuel deeper reflections, responses, and research.
- Comments allow for feedback, constructive criticism, and the adding of ideas and opinions to the original post. The content can grow and evolve.
- It can be encouraging for students to know they have an authentic audience who can connect with them.
- Commenting can be an ideal way for parents to get involved in the classroom (virtual parent helpers!)
- A single comment can be the start of a fantastic working relationship or friendship. You never know where that can take you and/or your students.
The blogging cycle
Important parts of the blogging process include encouraging students to:
1. Read other students’ posts.
2. Comment on other students’ posts.
3. Write posts in response to other students’ posts.
It’s amazing how even just a few comments can make students realise they are writing for a global audience — for many it’s incredibly motivating.
Must watch video
This video provides an excellent explanation of the blogging and commenting process, impact of quality blogging on student literacy, and the importance of writing as part of a global audience.
Remember, discussions in comments are important for reflective learning. Comments that challenge or suggest alternative options encourage you to reflect, revise, evaluate, and review your thoughts.
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How comments work
By default, comments are enabled on all newly created blogs, and a comment form will appear at the bottom of posts and pages where readers can respond to what you’ve written.
Note: Comments are disabled on pages by default and can be enabled.
Approved comments are displayed under the individual post or page. You just click on the post title or the comment link to read the comments.
Threaded comments allow readers to reply to other comments inline/nested which encourages better discussion and responses.
Here is an example of a threaded comment on a post:
Refer to the following support documents for more information on dealing with comments:
Examples of comments on class blogs
Here are examples of comments on class blogs to check out how they’re used by educators and students.
- Two Truths and One Lie: A Culture Exchange (Miss Jordan’s grade 3/4 students in Australia had a commenting conversation with some of their blogging buddies in the USA)
- Learning in 21 — You Are Invited (Grade 3 students wrote a comment to their teacher)
- St Charles Borromeo students run a Mystery Word competition that students can comment on.
- Roslyn Green’s high school history class (Night of Notables) and English class (G is for Gratitude) wrote some insightful reflections in their comments.
How to add comments
To leave a comment on a post, simply:
1. Click on the heading of the post you wish to comment on or the ‘comment’ link at the top or bottom of the post.
2. Scroll down the page to the comment form or click on Reply (to reply to a specific comment).
3. Enter your name and email address –- your email address is hidden and only the blogger sees it (If you are logged into your Edublogs account you won’t need to add these details).
4. Write your comment.
5. Enter the anti-spam word.
6. Select ‘Notify me of followup comments via e-mail‘ if you want to get an email when other people comment (so you know if people reply to you etc.).
7. Click Post comment
Below is a video from Kathleen Morris explaining how to add a comment for students.
Email address isn’t required in her example as the email requirement has been disabled in Settings > Discussion.
Teaching quality commenting skills
If commenting skills are not taught and constantly reinforced, there can be a tendency for students to limit their comments to things like,
- “I like your blog!”
- “Awsom 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 :)”
While enthusiasm is high with these sorts of comments, students are not developing their literacy skills or having meaningful interactions with other members of the blogging community.
Conversations in the comment section of a blog are such rich and meaningful learning experiences for students. Conversations begin with high quality comments.
Blogging is an authentic avenue for developing student literacy skills. When you invest the time in teaching, modelling, revising, and promoting high quality writing of comments, students can make great gains in their overall literacy development.
Set your standards high from the start and reap the rewards!
Teaching quality commenting, with constant reinforcement, and setting high standards increases your students literacy skills which provide a good foundation for when you move them onto writing posts on the class blog or their own student blogs.
The following diagram summarizes a scoffolding approach to blogging in the classroom. It begins with the teacher being responsible for the posts while the students learn quality commenting skills.
How to teach quality commenting skills
In her post on commenting, Kathleen Morris shares eight ideas to encourage a culture of quality commenting.
- Blogging guidelines: Set high standards to ensure students are using correct writing conventions and practicing things like asking questions, staying on topic, making connections, complimenting in a specific way etc. See below for examples.
- Be consistent: Consider spending a couple of minutes each day or a few times a week focusing on commenting as a whole class. You might read comments together, write replies together, and have students come up with constructive feedback. Embed blogging into your routine.
- Use mini lessons. You can embed on-the-spot commenting tutorials into whole class blogging time. You might choose a comment to reply to as a class. The teacher can model how to write a quality comment with input from students. Check out some mini lesson ideas Kathleen put together with annotated examples a number of years ago.
- Use explicit lessons. Come up with a few more detailed lessons on commenting. For example, I used to give my grade two students some example comments to sort. Older students could find examples themselves and analyse them on a much deeper level.
- Integrate. When you use literacy lessons to teach various conventions (like letter writing, editing, grammar, spelling, punctuation etc.) have students practice these concepts through commenting. If you have literacy rotations, blogging is always an excellent activity station!
- Involve parents. Family members have the potential to be regular commenters on your class blog. We need to bring this potential to life. Just one example is sending parents and email and ask them to comment on a specific post with their child. Well know blogger, Linda Yollis, gives parents ideas such as typing for their child but leaving errors of them to correct. Step six of this series offers lots of ideas on helping parents and students connect with the class blog.
- Connect with others. There are so many ways you can connect with other classes around the world to create authentic opportunities for both writing and receiving comments. The Student Blogging Challenge which begins in March and October each year is a good place to start. #Comments4Kids is a Twitter hashtag you can use and follow too.
- End with a question. A question at the end of a blog post is an invitation to comment. You can teach students about using open ended questions, and help them understand the etiquette of replying to comments too.
Activities for developing commenting skills
Here’s a list of activities you can use to develop your students’ commenting skills:
1. Watch this video by Linda Yollis’ students about leaving quality comments.
Check out Nicolas Weiss’s Leaving High Quality Blog comments video for quality commenting explained for high school students.
2. Create a commenting guideline poster
Display your poster in the classroom, on the blog (perhaps on a page), and send it home to share with parents and caregivers.
Short on time? Kathleen Morris has shared her commenting guidelines poster on her blog which you’re welcome to download and use.
3. Create a commenting guideline for your blog
Facilitate a collaborative discussion with your students to create your own commenting guidelines.
Here are some examples of Commenting Guidelines to look at:
- Mrs Hammon’s Class Blog Commenting Guidelines (Grade 3)
- Present with Ms B’s Bloggers – How to Comment (Grade 4)
- Huzzah’s Commenting Guidelines (Grade 5/6)
Remember don’t use others’ work without permission and acknowledgment.
Refer to Step 2: Set up pages for more information on pages.
Alternatively, you could get your students to create their own videos on writing quality comments.
Watch this excellent Comments video shared by Andrea Hernandez made by a 5th Grade student.
4. Develop a quality comment evaluation guide or rubric
Linda Yollis’ class uses a point system for evaluating comments. A one point comment is a general comment that doesn’t add much to the conversation and a two point comment is a good comment that adds something to the conversation.
Check out Linda Yollis’s evaluation guide and how she teaches commenting to see if you want to set up a quality comment evaluation guide for your class.
An alternative option used by some teachers is a commenting rubric. You can check out Langwitches’s Commenting Rubric here and read Langwitches’s advice on teaching commenting skills here. Check out English 10 Commenting Guidelines.
5. Get your students to practice commenting
Publish a blog post about commenting and what you define as a quality comment and then have your students practice leaving a “quality” comment on the post.
Check out Jan Smith’s I’m new here post. It is an excellent example of introducing students to reading student blog posts and learning how to write comments.
6. Get your students to practice commenting using the paper blogging method
Paper blogging is a hand’s on interactive way of introducing students to writing posts and comments using paper and post-it notes.
You’ll find a detailed explanation of how to paper blog with your students here. You’ll find an example of using paper blogging activity with students here.
7. Other advice and tips
After some time, I noticed a stand-still in commenting. It appeared that students were posting a lot but not commenting, which limited the amount of student learning from their peers via feedback. So, over time, I incorporated a number of strategies to encourage the students to comment on other people’s blog posts. The different tactics I employed to enhance feedback via commenting were: allowing some time in class to do it; setting expectations to comment as a part of their weekly home learning; making it compulsory for parents to comment somewhere on their child’s blog site as confirmation that their home learning had been completed; making the majority of their home learning via their blogs; getting them to set a blogging goal in order to move forward with the process; and introducing a ‘what’s trending?’ page to our class blog. The rationale behind this page was to encourage students to suggest other students’ blog posts that were worthy of their attention and encourage people to give feedback. So far, this has been working. But, this is still an ongoing journey. This journey into the Blogosphere has and continues to provide just as much learning for me as it does my students.
Commonly Asked Comment Questions
Here are the answers to frequently asked questions we receive into Edublogs Support:
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1. How do you enable comments on pages?
Most Edublogs themes support comments on pages and by default comments are disabled on pages.
You can enable comments on pages using Quick Edit as follows:
1. Go to to Pages > All Pages
2. Locate the post or page you want to enable comments on.
3. Hover over it’s title to bring up it’s action menu.
4. Click on Quick Edit, deselect ‘Allow Comments’ and then click on Update.
2. Why won’t comments display on pages?
Most Edublogs themes support comments on pages however there are a few themes that don’t.
If the theme you are using doesn’t support comments on pages, and you would like this feature, then you will need to use an alternative theme.
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3. How do I make comments display on my homepage?
Traditionally comments are designed to be displayed under a post and you view the comments by clicking on the post title or the comments link. It is done this way because posts can have 100’s of comments and displaying them directly under a post on the post page can make it hard to read the content.
Most teachers display the comments on their homepage by adding the Recent Comments widget to the sidebar.
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4. How do I remove the option to add email address to comments?
By default, any one leaving a comment must leave a valid name and email address.
If the ‘Comment author must fill out name and e-mail’ is unchecked in Settings > Discussion, any visitor can leave a comment and isn’t required to enter an email address. Please note readers will still see the name and email address option on the comment form; but the email address is no longer required to submit a comment.
This option is often used when teachers don’t want students to use their email address.
5. How do you stop the “Posting comments too quickly” message?
Comments allow your readers to add feedback to your posts and pages.
Unfortunately if all your students are submitting comments at the same time to a class blog on your school computers they may see ” ‘You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.’ message and they might lose their comments.
This happens because the computers on your school network use the same IP address and Edublogs, which is powered by WordPress, has comment throttling to protect blogs against spam bots.
6. How do I moderate all comments?
The default comment setting on all newly created blogs is ‘Comment author must have a previously approved comment before a comment appears’.
This means any visitors that have had a comment approved on the blog in the past will have their comment immediately posted and only comments from new visitors are placed in the moderation queue.
To moderate all comments you need to change it to “Comment must be manually approved” in Settings > Discussion.
Blogging is about sharing, collaborating, and learning from each-other. So here’s your chance to ask a question, comment, and get involved!
Complete the following tasks:
- Choose one of the Activities for developing commenting skills, complete the activity and then leave a comment to share what you created or to let us know how you went.
- Read through the most recent comments in reply to this step and leave a response to another person’s comment.