If you ask my students why they blog, many of them will tell you it is to start a conversation. Not to showcase their work. Not to share their thoughts. Not to brag or boast or share great ideas. But to speak to others. So when we blog we focus on how we can start that conversation. How do we bring people in. How do we engage others so that blogging doesn’t just become a digital portfolio.
It’s not easy. Commenting is not a one day lesson, nor is it it a one way street. So often I have been asked how I get people to comment on my students’ Kidblog and I can tell you it is a process. However, there are certain things you can do to make it a little easier.
- Introduce blogging right. I spend a lot of time (in 5th grade time measurement) discussing why we blog. I want students to understand the privilege and the investment it takes to create great blogs. I don’t ever want them to take that responsibility lightly.
- Do paper blogs. This is a great way to figure out how to comment without letting them loose right way and also a great step in how to introduce blogging.
- Showcase other blogs. I love that my old students’ posts are still viewable so I can showcase their work and ask students what they notice. Why does a certain post solicit comments and why does another not? Students start to gain an understanding when they can see how it has worked for others.
- Act out comments. This may seem silly at first, but I have students act out their blog post and then try to have another student speak back to them. This is often the biggest aha moment for students as they see which type of post starts a conversation and which doesn’t. We call them highway versus dead end conversations.
- Celebrate their comments. Comments are a big deal, ask any blogger, so it is okay to celebrate them and then map them. Students love seeing the connections they make with people around the world.
- Ask for comments. Do not underestimate the power of asking for comments from strangers. I use Twitter to highlight my students’ blogs and the hashtag #comments4kids – one of the most brilliant hashtags ever created.
- Reciprocate! This is huge! I give my students time to reciprocate to comments as a way to reach out to others and to pay it forward. If you want comments, you have to give comments, simple as that.
- Keep it up. We discuss comments a lot throughout the year because it is vital that students continue to understand why they are getting them and what to do with them. They also need to write good quality blog posts that deserve comments so that becomes an ongoing discussion as well.
- Take Max’s advice – make it worthwhile. I loved his honest post from last year and think it is so true. If you are going to comment, do it right.
No matter what, getting comments takes time as does quality blogging. Be a role model yourself, leave comments on their blogs and other students’ and talk it up. reach out to others, be invested, and be interested. I wish you the best of luck.