Tag Archives: Comments

This I Believe: Blogging Transforms the English Classroom

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About a half-dozen years ago, as an English teacher – a lover of reading and writing, my heart was breaking as my students seemed to be floating further away from my love of books and the craft of writing; I was getting older and feeling irrelevant in the world of my students – an annoying necessity of a class. Yet, I also am a theatre teacher and noticed that with a stage and lights, my students would work hard to perform when starring on the stage and being acknowledged with accolades of applause – an inspiring option for a class.

Blogging revealed itself to me as the quiet stage and lights for the high school English classroom. Students had been building online, virtual lives at home with daily hours dedicated to their online identities – a world where they were reading and writing. I needed to learn how I could create that world for the students in the English classroom. By immersing my PGP (Professional Growth Plan) in 21st Century digital literacies, and by practicing what I preach by blogging myself beside my students, my classrooms have transformed into rehearsal spaces of reading and writing, preparing for our performances on our blogging stage. Blogging inspires kids to offer their best efforts as writers, but it also inspires students to be peer tutors offering great leadership and character, as we expect from our FFCA students:

Vision of an FFCA Graduate With intentional thought given to the design of the learning experience at FFCA, graduates will leave us with core knowledge competencies, skills and abilities that are both essential and timeless. As creators of knowledge, students will have achieved the ability to think critically, care deeply and act ethically so that they can contribute to creating a world that cares and nurtures the diversity of cultures, celebrates personal contributions, and inspires others to reach their true potential. Proficient in their technological communications, FFCA leaders will be able to work independently or interdependently in a globalized society where partnerships and relationships strengthen the capacity to solve problems in collaborative ways. Possessing the attributes of life-long learners, graduates will be reflective and self-aware as they continue to evolve as successful individuals guided by moral purpose.

Our kids constantly humble, impress, and surprise me with their incredible writing and thinking. I love reading the students’ blog writing, as you can experience by reading some of our Grade 12 This I Believe blogs that are linked in this Storify:

https://storify.com/PamelaHunnisett/this-i-believe-blogs

However, what I love even more is the comments the students write to each other after the blogs, offering applause and critical feedback for improvement. Students are connecting with each other, they are building caring communities, they are reading as fans and critics of each other. The comments they craft for each other are thoughtful, relevant, and constructive; furthermore, the most surprising benefit is that “blogging with commenting” has developed a trusting, compassionate, and respectful community – virtually – that transfers into the classroom itself.

Blogging has allowed our walls to literally and figuratively disappear as the students work together to inspire, encourage, and validate each other. Blogging is our stage that features the embodiment of our vision for our FFCA Graduates.  Our classroom – both during our 90 minutes and in our virtual world – is an inspiring, highly relevant, necessity of a class.

Here are examples of student feedback:

Dear Jaiveen,

Wow! This piece stood out to me because I too wrote about TIME and once I read the title I knew I had to read it to see a different perspective on this topic. I really enjoyed the first line due to the nature of its contest because as a child time does not mean anything but as you grow old it means the world. By the first line it immediately made me read the whole blog.

Something I saw that you could improve is giving the audience more of what time has impacted your life. I felt like you gave a glimpse of the big picture by just giving a bit more detail and more personal connections to time would have made it way better and made it a bit more extended piece.

Overall I really enjoyed reading this post due to the topic and your personal opinion because got to see another perspective to the same topic. Hope to read more posts from you.

Sincerely,
Karamvir

Dear Rachel,

I think the overall message you’re sending out in this blog is immensely important for everyone in today’s society. You’ve done an amazing job at explaining the difference between loving oneself and not becoming arrogant. I think the fact that you encouraged more independence of people is great as too many people these days are depending on others to get somewhere in life.

The only thing I would liked to have seen more of in your blog are personal connections to your own life as I feel that would have made me even more engaged.

All in all, I think this was an excellent piece that everyone should get a chance to read as this could definitely help a lot of people in becoming more independent and less self conscious. Just add a bit of personal experiences in your writing and I think you’re set.

Sincerely, Shaan

Dear Daman,

I really connected with what you wrote in the fifth and sixth paragraphs about how you analyze the behaviours of those around you and then choose how to act accordingly. It makes me wonder about how I affect those around me who, whether it be through timidness or their lack of a loud enough voice, manage to escape my attention. It makes me wonder if I’m giving the right impression. Am I the one you, or others, characterize as a jerk? Am I one to be avoided and my behaviour a model of how not to act? Or am I seen as a genuinely good person?

Either way, this piece has made me realize that I need to put forth a conscious effort to analyze my actions and behaviour. I never know who might be watching an silently taking mental notes of my character; I want to make sure that I leave a good impression on everyone.

For improvements, I think those fifth and sixth paragraphs, even though they were so well written, do go on a bit of a tangent. From my perspective, I didn’t really see how someone’s behaviour affects people’s choices so much. Someone’s behaviour does give the choice of wanting to model, or avoid a behaviour like that. However, when you said, “It’s difficult to not be affected by all the people trying to change who you are, what you believe in, and the choices you make.” I felt as though you had a deeper connection to the point you were trying to convey through the fifth and sixth paragraphs. Making this connection to the reader would really tie your post together and make your post appear much more meaningful and organized.

Good luck with your writings in the future. I look forward to reading more posts like this.

Sincerely,
Chad

Dear Noor,

Noor that was amazing! Reading this I felt a connection to you as I myself also find more happiness in simple things. I also feel that the little things, the things we wouldn’t really think about meaning the simple things are much more rewarding. I really liked the way your blog just flowed. The transitions and the way you organized your paragraphs really helped me stay engaged and helped my understanding. At no time did I feel confused. Your explanations and evidence was of perfect amount.

To improve, I also agree with Yashii and Sukhjot. Although you maintained perfect flow, sometimes your sentences were really long. An example would be your last paragraph. I understand that the ideas presented in that sentence are vey connected however splitting it up into two sentences would help to get your message across more efficiently.

I would like to end off by saying that I can see this believe in you. You seem to be very humble and appreciative and after reading your blog I respect you even more.

Sincerely, Aman

Dear Jas,
I believe you have a lot of good ideas and that you have the ability to make this great piece about the potential of humanity. I liked how you discussed both the good and the evil of human potential. Keep on giving it your all and don’t get discouraged. I enjoyed your writing and images.
My criticism is about the sentence structures you used for your piece. Most of your sentences were simple sentences which can feel choppy and disjointed to the reader. I would advise keeping the hand-out that Ms. Hunnisett gave on sentence structures beside you as you write to help make your piece flow. Challenge yourself to write with most of the sentence types in every piece of writing; once you are comfortable use them to create an effect on the reader. I have to do it as well. As an added comment unify your ideas; do not contradict yourself. In the first line you say “I believe in the potential of humanity, and that the key to unlocking that potential is the unknown.” And at the end you say “I believe that if we are to unlock own true potential we must strive to put aside our differences.” These ideas do not agree with each other. I believe that you can make this a great piece.
What would you recommend each person do to help the human potential?
Sincerely,
Matt

Etiquettes with Blogging

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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.
 
Sincerely,
Namitha
 
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.
-Gurleen

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!

Cheers,

Pamela

ETIQUETTE and EXPECTATIONS for COMMENTING

Format = friendly letter form Dear ______________________,
A) GIVE POSITIVE FEEDBACK:

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

(be specific, thoughtful, friendly tone)

B)   CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK:

  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!

CRITERIA for ASSESSMENT:

SPECIFIC   *   THOUGHTFUL   *   GUMPS   *    STRUCTURE     *   FRIENDLY TONE

 

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

More advice on Commenting:

http://tlcteach.edublogs.org/about/