We have been hard at work on our paper blog as we prepare to unveil the actual blog experience this Friday. One of the essential things I do (and tweak) every year is the using paper blogs to get my 5th graders to think about how to comment, and more specifically how to start a conversation with their comments. While the idea is not mine, I borrowed it from McTeach, it has developed over the years into something I love doing and find essential as we prepare to blog and converse with the world.
The whole idea is very simple.
Creating the blogs:
- Show students samples of previous years’ paper blogs to give them a visual of what to expect. I accidentally kept one class set a year so I have a great variety of blogs that I lay out on tables so they can see and read them. Otherwise, I take pictures of them year and after year and have those ready as well if needed.
- There are a few rules here: It should showcase something the students are passionate about, it should include their name, and every paper blog should have a border. I also ask students to write their “post” in pencil first so that I may check their spelling. We want to emphasize spelling in their blog posts from the start.
- Students are encouraged to be creative with their title, their layout, and what they write. We discuss what would make a great introductory post and how they can let their readers know what their blogs will be about. I have students choose all sorts of things they are passionate about: The Badgers, various sports, books, ribs, their family, dogs etc.
- I tend to give them several class periods to work on these since it is a nice break in the hectic schedule of beginning of school and it allows me to see what pace students work at.
When blogs are done:
- When most of the blogs are done, we get to the main point of the lesson: Commenting – this is why I do all of this.
- Students are each given a pad of post-its and lay their paper blog out on their table. Then armed with post-its they walk around and read each others’ blogs. On a post-it they are asked to leave a comment and sign their name. This is in order to teach them that comments should never be anonymous, they need to stand behind their words.
- We have discussed what makes a great comment in previous lessons so I only ask them to remind me.
- I give the students 15 to 20 minutes to walk around and comment.
After the walk-around
- Once time is up students return to their blogs. If they have comments with questions on them, they answer the question and pass the post-it back to the person who wrote it. This symbolizes the conversation that could take place.
- I then ask for a student volunteer who helps me act out the conversations we will have based on post-its I have grabbed from the blogs.
- I want the students to understand the difference between a “dead end” comment and a “highway” comment. Dead end ones end the conversations and may include the standard “I like your post” comments. Highway comments include comments that ask questions, share experiences, and link back to their own blog (here by leaving a name). Because we act these out, the students quickly get what makes for a better comment
- We wrap up the whole experience by creating another reminder poster of what makes a great comment and students either bring their blogs home or I showcase them in the hallway.
I am a passionate 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” will be released this fall from PLPress. Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.