In response to recent discussions on Twitter I would love to share some ideas that worked for us with our blogs...
"A blog without comments is like a day without sunshine" and I believe a blog is to be interacted with...
So here goes, sharing of ideas I have read, heard about, tried, thought about....
The absolute guru of blogging and comments for learners is Linda Yollis. I have used so many of her wonderful ideas with great success...
How to comment
Learning how to comment
How to compose a quality comment
For me, it has been really essential to spend time with the class looking at how, why, when, where and what to comment on and interact with. I have started the year by looking at a blogpost and modelling commenting, replying to a comment and continuing interaction.
Celebrate each post, each comment, each view. Load your blog up with widgets to enable you to see your visits, where they are from, etc with: statcounter, Clustrmaps, flag counters, feedjit. None of these will increase your visits or comments, but they make interesting viewing and can really encourage your learners and families to interact.
Writing tasks for independent time are reading blog posts and comments, adding comments and responding to comments. I have found it invaluable to look back on comments and posts and continue to model commenting.
Family sessions are essential. We must allow time for learners to teach their extended families how to view and interact with blogs. We found it invaluable to have the learners run the session, working with their families in class.
Learners can wear a lanyard or bracelet home to notify their families that they have a blog post that needs viewing and commenting on that night.
Notices on the class blog can alert families to special posts, or better still families can all subscribe to the blog and receive updates automatically.
Grandparents and extended families overseas can be encouraged to subscribe and interact.
Communicating with experts in any learning journey can allow opportunities for linking to the blog.
Speakpipe is a great way to allow families to record their message. It is great to listen to a response to a post. We found it valuable to experiment with recording messages in class also.
As part of the process of 'earning' their own blogs, learners were encouraged to read posts and comment on a given number each day. Not only did this ensure that the posts were read, it also ensures that learners are regularly commenting at school, which makes it easier for them to support their families at home.
Use labelling carefully. Encourage every learner to tag every post with their name and subject making it all easily searchable within the tag cloud.
Check out our last year's class blog to see some of these ideas. Check out the side bar and the links we use.
It is not easy to get comments because everyone is busy. I think he key for us was to ensure all comments were read and responded to when necessary. Learners love receiving comments and are very open and honest commenting on each other's posts.
Quadblogging has been invaluable for us to have an authentic interactive audience for our blog. It is also incredibly valuable to have a buddy class within your school environment. Not only can this strengthen relationships it sets a benchmark and challenges others to interact. I like to think of it as an upward spiral of interaction.
Given that we are wanting people to interact with our blog, the challenge is on us to share interesting posts. We must share, reflect on our work and encourage others to interact with our learning journey... We must seize the opportunities to share our learning journey with our families when they are not present. Best examples of this are class outings, camps, beach trips, swimming lessons, athletics... the list is endless. Every experience we have is an opportunity for learners to 'record' and share with a wider audience. Once parents begin to see their learner's life through the blog you are well on the way. Remember, it does not come easily... You have to work at it, persevere, encourage, engage, connect, collaborate and continue to publish to your blogs.
Another fabulous forum is sharing links to blog posts on twitter. Your PLN are your best audience and you will find that people are only to happy to engage with your blog. The key is that blog commenting is a two way street. To expect comments, you must be prepared to post comments. Using the hashtag #commentsforkids is a really useful way to encourage comments.
I guess, for us, our blog is a way to connect with each other, to create, collaborate and share, to comment and interact with our audience. It is a place to showcase and reflect on our work. It is a way of taking down our classroom walls and inviting an authentic audience to engage and interact.
I remember attending a CORE breakfast listening to DK talk about a blog as an intersection, a crossroad, a meeting place... Your blog can be all this and more...
Good luck with making your blog MAGIC!