student comments

I have the honor of working with teachers in Seguin, Texas this week.  My law-making friend, Mr. Murphy, comes through again by having Edublogs do a website update only a could of weeks ago, thus changing all of my screenshots and helpful tips. So I have reworked the handout page and updated the information on it.

Also posted on the Creating Your Blogs page, this is the handout for my updated 2009 Edublog Training for Teachers: EdublogSetup09


I get lots of email and have subscribed to a number of RSS services that try to keep me in touch with all the sites I try to follow. Nevertheless, I still miss news and email. Just this morning, I realized that I was tagged by another blog 100 days ago and I never answered the tag. So, that brings up two things for today’s blog: Tagging blogs and a great service to help you keep up with your blog feeds.

First, just like the old school-yard game of tag, sometimes bloggers will write a post and then tag specific people to write about the same thing on their blog. I just found out today that I was tagged in an ‘8 Things About Me’ blog… about 100 days ago. Oops! Sorry Kristin!

How does this play a role in my classroom? The ‘tag, you’re it’ method of blogging can be a nice tool for facilitating student communication in an environment where each student has their own blog. This type of activity plays more into the community of learners environment that blogging has become the center of. The students will have to not only write on their blogs about the specific assignment given by the teacher, but they will have to maintain contact with other student blogs to see if they get tagged. (Common courtesy states that you email anyone you tag so they know it.) Teachers can tag certain student blogs to get specific feedback, students can tag each other to broaden the range of responses, and/or the class can tag another class in an effort to get viewpoints from outside their classroom.

Once you start the environment of being responsible for keeping up with many different blogs, you should also introduce RSS feed tools. Called by a number of names, the RSS Reader/RSS Feed/News Aggregator tools automatically go out and bring in any new posts from blogs that you subscribe to. One aggregator can deliver many sites, keeping the user from hitting each one to check for new information.

The second part of today’s post is a gentle nudge into It is probably the best blog tool on the net. It acts as a reader, a blog search engine, and statistics engine. The reason I found out I was tagged by Kristin was that my Technorati page had a link to her site where she referenced my blog. Any time someone references my page on a blog, there is a record of it on Technorati. Technorati blog searches are probably the most current searches because they constantly update blog feeds.

If you want a good first tool to add to your blog management, get a free Technorati account. They have support tutorials on their site that will help you get it all set up.

Oh, and Kristin’s tag was to list 8 random things about myself and tag 8 other people. I’m skipping the ‘tag others’, but offer up my 8 things: 1) I’ve kept a website for my kids since before they were born, 2) I’m a Mac evangelist, 3) Born on Texas Independence Day, 4) Had braces on teeth 3 different times, 5) Named my son after Great-g-g-g-grandfather and his father, 6) I will present twice at TCEA 2008, 7) I helped establish a 7 yr old digital film festival, and 8- I secretly still love to play with Legos.

Ever been in an assembly or have the counselor visit your classroom and you look around the audience and see puddles of drool forming under the chins of your lovable students? Think back to last week’s staff meeting and remember when you were one of those lovable students? 🙂 The audience probably had little buy-in or ownership of the lecture being presented and probably missed a good bit of what was shared. Since the blog is a discussion forum, why not use it as a follow-up to that meeting?

If I was the counselor and I was talking to fifth grade students about what it means to be respectful, I could follow it up with a blog session with the students. “Tell me about a time when you felt respected at school.” “Call someone out on the way that they showed respect to someone else. How do you think it made the other person feel?” Give students the expectation that they will be blogging about the session and maybe they’ll be more attentive.

In a well-moderated school blog, high school assemblies on prom planning or career counseling could be followed up by the teachers with comments by students. Students could give suggestions or input on the decision-making process and further debate them online. Maybe what once was controlled by a few vocal students could be owned by a broader section of the population. Perhaps the comments could be question and answer sessions where the students can learn more by reading the questions others have posted.

A librarian’s blog can be a home for new book discussion or school-wide book studies. What better way to have a teacher present something new to a very broad population and still have the ability for a vast range of student comments?

The classroom blog can be used for a small group of students or a large number of students and can provide an ‘open door’ for the traveling speaker or teacher who sees many students during the week.

Remember, a blog doesn’t have to have an indefinite life span. A blog on an assembly topic may provoke a lot of interest, but limit it to a two week planned life span then turn off commenting. The posts can be left visible for those who want to review the topics, but the purpose of the blog may be over and not necessarily something you want to maintain.

Do you have an experience where a school blog was a tool for student communication?

I was talking with a teacher the other day about this blog. She made the comment, it would be nice if you included some real examples of class work. Well, okay then. Below is an excerpt from my class blog in April 2005. We were studying character development and I wanted the students to write more about it.

Thursday – Character
From Michael Cricton’s “Timeline”: “She tried to place that rumbling sound when a teenage boy burst around the corner, racing toward her. the boy was wearing black hose, a bright green quilted jacket and a black cap. He was red-faced with exertion; he’d clearly been running for some time. he seemed startled to find her walking on the path. As he came near her, he yelled, ‘Hide woman! For the sake of God! Hide!’ “

In an instant, the author has a character painted with words. He’s young, not dressed in modern clothing, and has been running scared. I can picture in my mind a teenager with eyes wide open and the look of true fear on his face.

As you did yesterday, quote your author’s work where he or she described a character. It can be from any place in the book that you have read already. DON’T FORGET: write about what you think about the description. Did you get any extra meaning from it? This is character development, not plot.

Blogger Mr. M said… (I cheated. I posted the first reply this day.)

Okay, had to add one more from the book, ‘Timeline’, by Michael Crichton.
The driver of a car just hit a guy in the road. “As the dust cleared, he saw the man lying at the side of the road, trying to raise himself up on his elbow. The guy was shaky, about seventy, balding and bearded. His skin was pale; he didn’t look Navajo. His brown clothes were fashioned into long robes. Maybe he’s a priest, Baker thought.”
The setting is a dusty, desert road. The man doesn’t look Navajo, (American Indian.) So, he’s out of place. His clothing is out of place as well. This character presents a mystery because he’s an old out of place guy in the middle of the desert…in the middle of the road. It made me want to read on.

What did you find today that made you want to read on? Mr M

12:01 AM
Anonymous B.R said…

The boy named Marty loves dogs he works for money to buy Judd’s dog.Judd is not nice to his dogs he shot one of his dogs for not lisining to him.Marty keep him a secrat from him because he does not want him to kill the dog.He buys his dog from him.So Shiloh is his dog.

11:19 AM
Anonymous NM said…

“And suddenly, according to my imagination, I’d been on my feet, screaming,’Why didn’t you leave us alone? Why did you have to drag us in? You’re scum, filth. I hate you. Go away. You deserve everything, everthing, you understand? Everything that you get. IT’S NOT MY FAULT.'”
You can tell that she really hates Jack(dad’s friend).
She had the same nightmare over and over again. This is what she says right after.
“It was so real I was trembling.None of it happened of course. But for hours Cindy gazed at the TV, I watched this movie in my head, running it over and over, changing the dialogue each time, trying to find words I could say to him that would be more powerful, more affective.”
I don’t really know if this “nightmare” really happened or not. She either already told him or is thinking about it.
She says she needs words more affective so maybe it didn’t happen…maybe she thinks thats what will happen.
Jack and her talk a little bit before that. I couldn’t right it because he says a cuss word. Well…thats all for now.

11:35 AM
Anonymous sb said…

The book i’m reading is The Mystery of the Cupboard by Lynne Ried Banks. The main charater of my story is a boy named Omri.I think he likes to read because he’s reading a journal he found in thatch & he likes the journal so much that he has trouble breathing when the writing gets to the climaxe.Hears a part of the story so you’ll get what I mean.”Pressuredas he was by the life around him, he was sorely temted to just flick throgh the thin pages of the notebook, picking out the bits that concernd him the most.”Gotta go bye!!!


We had 27 posts during that class. There was a lot of typing with one hand going on since their other hand was keeping their place in the book where they were quoting from. I really felt that they were using great lit skills that day.

I found a new tool last week that makes an amazing amount of good sense. I spent hours highlighting text with students or teaching them how to highlight.  Couple that with the young internet researcher who finds that perfect article on George Washington… that goes on for 42 pages. How do you help them pick out specific parts or highlight them? to the rescue! This free resource will let you highlight webpages, bookmarks sites, and even attach sticky notes to a web page. You can login or use a shortcut in your browser to have instant access to the edits you make.


After a quick install, you simply highlight the text and right click/cntrl click to get the highlight option. The text will stay highlighted each time you return to that page, given your diigo login is still active.


Attach sticky notes with student-specific notes or lesson suggestions. The sticky notes just pop up when you mouse-over the highlight.

I would want to install it on each of my classroom computers so that the diigo toolbar shows in my browser. Then my bookmarked pages will be accessible from each station and the day’s research lesson can be pulled up as pre-highlighted pages.  Imagine, the sticky on real-world text would say, “Read this section and answer this question:…”  Or, better yet, “Read and then give your answer on our blog. If you have time, make sure you ask a question or comment on someone else’s answers.”

Ah, online instructions on ANY webpage my students are directed to by me.  Heck, if the toolbar is on the browser, I bet students will start asking to highlight their own sites.

I’m sure diigo isn’t perfect, but I am liking it so far.

“But Mr. Martin, I can’t blog with 125 students!”

The point in blogging is that there is two-way communication organized in a chronological order.  I loved it as a tool for my 30 fifth graders because we did have communication going on and I was involved. However, it is a growing pet peeve of mine to have a blog environment where every student has a blog, knowing that the teacher may or may not read their ideas. So, it’s a valid concern, having a 125 student blogs for one teacher to use in a true blogging sense.

It’s a concern, but not a big barrier though. If my blog is my communication tool for my students, and I have several class periods come through each day, I need to rethink my process. One alternative that came up in discussion today was having small groups in each class blog as a group. Oral discussion in the group can be followed up with posting their group ideas online. Groups can then bounce ideas back and forth online, constructively using the feedput from other groups.

One such blog tool is I wasn’t a big fan at first because it was a tool for one teacher to create and maintain a list of student blogs from that initial site and I didn’t want a blog for each student. But this seems to work well with the class I’m in right now. Off on the right side of the window, there is a drop-down window with all of the student blogs for everyone in the class to use. You can easily go to the other blogs to communicate to anyone in class.

My personal turning point was the idea that teachers with large numbers of kids could organize into groups. The teacher could propose the question or post it on the main page. The individuals in each group can post their comments, recording each person’s ideas. Then the group’s ‘reporter’ can post a summary of their ideas on the class blog. As the groups read the summaries, they could visit the group blogs for more in depth understanding of why they came up with their particular summary.

Just like my dad would find his good screwdrivers with huge chunks taken out of their heads, (I’ll blame that on the oldest sister’s chiseling attempts), you’ll always find someone using internet tools for various reasons. I would suggest that if you are truly blogging, make every effort to make it a teacher-interactive, 2-way communication tool. Getting students to blog in small groups may just facilitate more teacher interaction.

Okay, so the title should say, “Blogging Bloom’s”, but I liked the figurative language picture of little blogging flowers. (I lost a man point on this one, but gained an Early Childhood Class point.) Anyway, I wanted to return to the idea of “How are we using a blog with students in the classroom?” It’s easy to come up with a simple Answer-The-Question blog, but how can we use it to really push learning?

Well, it occured to me this morning, as I was looking at the picture of Benjamin Bloom on the front of the Wheaties box, that using Bloom’s taxonomy for catagorizing questions can be a great reminder for how we are to meet the needs of all students with the same blog post. If my post for today’s literature group work is, “How old is Brian Robeson?”, then everybody commenting after the first two kids can just copy the previous answer. I would get many similar answers if I posed the question, “Tell what happened with Brian’s plane crashed at the beginning of Hatchet.” Again, the kids commenting later have the advantage of just copying someone else’s work.

As I added the third spoon of sugar to my bowl, I remembered some of the great discussions in my classroom and how the divergent thinkers would get us sidetracked. It was great! They were putting the work into their mental environment and authentically applying it to their own experiences. By giving the blog post an opening for synthesizing or evaluating the classroom lesson, students will see a much broader answer base and have much greater room for dialoguing with thier peers about their answers.

“I don’t think Brian really wanted to go home and leave the forest. Using only information from the book up to Chapter 11, convince me that he did or didn’t want to go home. Using accountable talk, question other students about their answer with evidence you feel is appropriate.”

How can we use Bloom’s ideas in a Math teacher’s blogg? in Science? You can start discussing while I put my cereal bowl in the sink.

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