Posted in Blogging, ETMOOC

Etiquettes with Blogging

Etiquette and expectations for blogging and commenting has always been part of my blogging journey with my students.  Being thoughtful as both a writer and reader are important.  I love that my students start to think of themselves as writers, but more importantly, I love the community they build through the process of “joining the conversation” with each other through feedback.  Their virtual community has transferred into the classroom itself – bringing the students together as a family. Blogging has allowed our walls to literally and figuratively disappear as the students work together to inspire, encourage, respect, and validate each other.   Here is an example of a student’s comment from our student blog and the writer’s response:

Dear Gurleen,
This piece, in a kind of tragic way, was beautifully written and illustrates the existing ignorance that continues to plague our society. “Due to my awareness of my flaw, I am able to hold myself accountable to discovering one’s true nature through personal experience rather than what I have been told.” This sentence made me smile because you do exude that radiant confidence and are able to hold yourself up throughout the length of any bad day. The relevance of this judgment issue is one you portray very well in your writing through honesty and passion.
To improve, I would suggest expanding upon your personal experiences with this topic as you slightly mentioned in your first paragraph. It would add another layer of understanding especially for the readers and make it more relatable.
As soon as I saw you writing as much as you did in the lab last week, I knew this was going to be worth reading and it absolutely was. Your devotion to this piece clearly reflects and hopefully, this is an issue that eventually will resolve in the future.
Hey Guys,
Firstly, thank you so much for reading my blog! Coming from you two ,who art is almost a second nature for , it means a lot that you liked the comparison.
Kiran, that’s a good point and I realized after reading you comment that I do that quite often. Thanks for pointing it out and making me accountable to putting it to a stop. It definitely takes away the experience from the reader and would make my writing better to let them deduct it themselves.
Namitha, holy that was long. It’s always nice to know that someone can hear your voice in your writing so I appreciate that. Adding that personal touch would’ve made this that much stronger, and I’m regretting leaving it out now. From now on I’ll add a little bit of my personal experiences to help you see it from my P.O.V. and make it more relatable for the readers. I also hope that in the near future equality is no longer something we have to fight for, and will become something we begin to wonder why was ever a struggle to achieve.
Thank you again for reading my blog. From the two of you, whose writing I think is absolutely brilliant, it means so much that you read and commented on my blog.

So, I have been very happy thus far, but I am ready for next steps to improve our process.  Thanks to Sue Waters’s Thursday session on Advanced Blogging through etmooc, I have had some “aha” visions for my next steps with my students:

  1. We need to learn to embed pictures, music, videos, and links in their blogs.  It makes their work more interesting, inviting, honest, and it joins the conversation with the rest of the world.
  2. We need to learn to write engaging, creative, thoughtful and relevant titles.
  3. We need to respond and link to each others’ work to further the discussion.
  4. We need to be grateful to those who take the time to read our work and comment  (as Gurleen does above).
  5. We need to take commenting to the next level.  We already write to our blogger in the form of a letter, we offer positive and a constructive criticism, but I want to add the expectation of furthering the discussion.  (see my ideas in the box below)
  6. We need to be “tagging” our own work as I believe that is part of the metacognitive process in the “final touches” of their posts!
  7. Finally, we need to be more mindful of “polished” work; we don’t take enough time to structure, revise, edit, or embed with their posts.

So, if you have any comments, questions, feedback, models, suggestions, or if you just want to join the conversation on this subject, I look forward to it!




Format = friendly letter form Dear ______________________,

  1. Encouragement
  2. Praise
  3. Reaction – when positive

(be specific, thoughtful, friendly tone)


  1. Suggestions for improvement
  2. Be specific
  3. Be a helpful and kind tutor

C)   Further the Discussion:

  1. Response to another comment
  2. Enter the conversation about the idea the blogger presented in their post
  3. Provide added value
  4. Offer links that could help to improve or continue the conversation

Sincerely,  ________________________________

*Etiquette is to ALWAYS respond to any comment that was given to you on the blog.  Try to further the conversation!




* GUMPS = Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Punctuation, and Spelling – Ensure you Edit to Eliminate Gumps!

More advice on Commenting:


I am an English teacher with FFCA Charter Academy who struts and frets her hour upon the stage. After attending the 2011 NCTE conference in Chicago, and being inspired by the likes of Penny Kittle, Jim Burke and Kelly Gallagher, I decided to embark on the journey to "practice what I preach!" So - here it goes. I'm sure this will be a process that batters and bruises, but hopefully I come out a mere bit wiser as I blog beside my students as a teacher and a learner. I try to blog some of their assignments; otherwise, I use the space to reflect on my learning and teaching!

20 thoughts on “Etiquettes with Blogging

  1. I love your post. Great summary…brought the session back into my mind. Thank you for the checklist. I like having a simple plan to follow …you make it easy.

    1. Hi Deidre,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m hoping it gave some clarity for me (and others) and my students. I’ll just use the post to teach from next semester. That just saved me some lesson planning time.


  2. Pamela:

    What I think is great is how you are immediately turning around and using your ETMOOC experience and applying it to your classroom practice with your students. I think I need to figure out ways to do that even more. You have provided a great specific example.

    I like the commenting template. I use a pretty simple method that has worked pretty well, which boils down to identify the pieces greatest strength, ask questions to help clarify understanding, and make a possible suggestion. It has served me well in teaching my online courses. However, it does take some coaching and tending to really take off.

    I am interested in how you are going to introduce and use tags. I keep trying to fine tune my approach to this. I think they are hugely important and connected a lot of other areas. I would be curious about what you think on that front.


    1. Hi Fred,

      Thanks for the feedback. Thanks for making me think about the tags – that required a pause. The most obvious approach for me would be for the students to choose their tags based on these three categories:
      – motifs/subjects within their post (we teach this explicitly with all texts
      – any noun references (I.e. key person, places, or things)
      – assignment information

      If you have any suggestions, I’d be thrilled for some guidance or inspiration.


  3. Hi Pamela,
    As always, your ‘reflections and learnings’ are thoughtful, engaging and most certainly, focused on moving your students to the ‘next stage’ of their blogging experience. Just wondering: even though I’m not currently teaching, I’d be more than honoured to participate with your students’ blogs, should you/they want to expand their online audience/experience. My ‘blogging’ experience with my students was entirely one-sided; more a ‘my learning and playing with new’ technology’ experiment, rather than an ‘engage students’, primarily because I was new to the process, and students/district weren’t at the stage of embracing such activities. The three I created wound up primarily as an online version/daily update of my courses (as you can see here:

    With the passing of time, with blogging becoming more accepted in schools, and with teachers/students seeing the merit of connecting their learning, I find myself at a place where “I want to play, too” but sans a classroom and/or audience. So, if you want another ‘voice,’ I’d be delighted to lend mine (and I’d most definitely model the etiquette and expectations you set out).
    Thank you for all the inspiration, Pamela. Your students are fortunate to have a ‘savvy teacher’ who honours their learning AND engagement!
    Two “leave you withs”:
    1. Your tag suggestions intrigue, as they pinpoint the focus of your courses. Great choices.
    2. Here’s a post about blogging as the new ‘persuasive essay’ from Shelly Wright (she, like you, is amazing in her approaches to student learning/engagement):

    Looking forward to more of your insights!!

  4. My dearest Carol,
    I think you have just sprouted your angel wings! Thank you, as always, so much for your incredible support and being my primary PLN here in Alberta! I would love, love, love you to follow along at your leisure – your feedback, insights, and suggestions are always welcome for both the rugrats and me too!! I love your perspectives and inspiration and value the quality you bring to the discussion.
    Regarding your google site – I have pillaged much of it in the past, but just re-found some gems! Thanks for the reminder.
    For daily updates and handouts, we use EDMODO – are you familiar with it? It is good for the housekeeping of the job. (I’ll email you that group code to join and check it out).
    Also, I’ve started – I mean just started this weekend and no where near done yet – a website for my 30-1 ( class and my 20-1 ( class. The idea is that it is a place of “info” inquiry for clarification, practice, and enhancement – not class-by-class housekeeping. I’m on a Learning Commons committee and looking at what kind of material could be used to support and enhance the classroom learning. So, any supports or feedback you have, by all means your voice is always valued!
    I also want to thank you for the great introduction to Shelly Wright – she is inspiring, like you!
    Cheers friend,

  5. Pamela,

    I’m procrastinating. My first semester exams are halfway to complete, but I’m also thinking about next week and its new courses. Your post and comments are so generous, and more than justify my procrastination. You were kind enough to comment on my post about reflection, but your blog and, particularly, your comments show that reflection is an essential tool in your toolbelt.

    Thank you for the comment template and sharing your developing thinking about tags. I’m a firm believer in titles; I ask students to title everything. It is a great exercise and can inspire helpful thought at all stages of the writing process. Occasionally, I even have students write a “Top Ten” list of titles for one piece to inspire new ways to see their writing and show the impact of a title.

    I’m going to take my classroom blogging up a notch in second semester, and I’m sure I’ll be back on your site for examples, expertise, and interaction. Hope you find a bit of “break” during your exam break.



    1. Hi Scott,

      Your comments to Pamela are heart-warming; like you, I too appreciate her generous spirit and keen insights. I was moved to take a journey to your blog, discovering an individual who appears to mirror those things I’ve come to admire in Pamela: a sharing nature, a willingness to learn and take risks, a desire to grow alongside his/her students. If you two taught in the same school, I can only imagine how powerful, stimulating and dynamic your English courses would be!

      In my comment to Pamela, above, I shared the rather sad tale of my ‘one-sided,’ now-rather-dated blog (part daily update; part ‘file cabinet’). Even though I know you have your courses fully dialed in (would LOVE to know what you do with your students, by the way), in the event you’re interested in “more stuff” I invite and welcome you to meander your way through my blog, and use anything that you may find of value. It’s a tad of a navigational gong show when you first enter, but eventually, you’ll find the ‘harmony within the chaos.’ If I were to ‘re-vision’ what I’ve done, trust me, my approach, content and especially purpose, would be far improved. Anyway…perhaps, down the road…

      When I left teaching (long story) a year ago, I had revamped my courses (English 30-1 and English 30-2) to the ‘moodle’ platform we were expected to use. The computer I’m using at the moment (new role = admin assistant at a teeny Outreach school in Canmore) is imprisoned by so many firewalls and other ‘no access’ issues, that I can’t gain entry into the materials/units I created. I do have files on my home laptop that I’d also willing share. If there’s something specific you might want/need, do let me know. Collaboration – one of the Top 5 aspects of teaching I miss most.
      Let me know here (I’m using Pamela’s blog as a ‘meeting place’ – hope you’re okay with that, wonderful Pamela!!), and I’ll send you a note with my email address…

      A couple of closing ‘musings’ and a link share:

      1. the value you place on titles – awesome! They’re the invitation to walk through the door, or stop on the threshold. I struggle with titles too – always looking for the witty, the dramatic, the ‘sparkling,’ the welcoming, the ‘turn the handle and push.’ On reflection, some of my ‘better’ titles are associated with road-bike races I’ve organized…strange, but true.
      2. this phrase from your blog, about using blogging as “an active classroom tool, a hub for communication and collaboration” resonates with me. You are a “gets it” teacher!!
      3. reflection: yes, yes and yes. Here’s a link, from Alec’s brother, George, that speaks directly to the importance of doing so: Post title: “You can close the door (Sometimes)”

      Enjoy your day,

      1. Hello folks,
        Thank you so much, to both of you, for such expertise, cheerleading and support! Carol – I love that my lil’ blog is feeling like a coffee shop! LOVE IT! Scott, I hear ya! Procrastination from final marks – I hate finality, just like I hate ending a book, but am always so excited to start over again and spend more time wanting to prep, not mark! Sigh! Can I just have “the cleaner” (you know, the mob guy who cleans up the mess of bodies) to finish off my semester one details? 🙂
        In all seriousness, I really agree with Carol that collaboration is so much better when you are working with like-minded people, and I look forward to discussions in the future! By all means, please borrow and steal! When you improve anything, please throw it back!
        Well – I’m going to procrastinate for one hour longer and then get these darn report cards off my shoulders (due tomorrow)! EEK!
        Have a great break!

      2. Carol,

        I’m embarrassed at how much time has passed since your kind comments and overwhelming generosity. I’m sorry I took so long to respond, but, if it helps, I’ve been thinking about you quite a bit. First, I visited George Couros’ blog post as you recommended. I’ve been keeping inquiries about administration at arm’s length, but great examples like George are inspiring. Being a vulnerable learner is a challenge in a classroom community, but expanding that idea to the entire community as principal requires a whole new level of courage and commitment. I imagine it to be simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. Thanks for the link.

        I’ve also been by your website. Wow! You’ve curated so much good stuff to immerse myself in. I’m definitely going to try your novel cover analysis and redesign assignment. I’ve dipped my toes in technology before, but now I’ve committed to cannonballing into the deep end, and I’m learning by following so many great examples and by trail and error (taking too long to exchange comments for example). I’ll update you on my first week of the new semester soon on my blog (, and I’d like to keep in touch through blogs, twitter, or email if you’re interested.

        Thanks again for so willingly sharing (and thanks Pamela for letting us meet here for the moment).

        Till next time,


    1. Thank you! I will check out your site! I was excited to see you did something with Antigone as LOVE that play, directed it years ago, and would like to teach it this year. Cheers!

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