Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Comments, Please!

Blogging can be such a powerful tool for your students' writing and for communicating with the parents of your students. It's also a lot of fun to see your writing instantly published.

What is not a lot of fun is never getting comments on your posts. You may spend time wondering if you really do have an audience. Is anyone out there reading your blog? How can a classroom teacher encourage students and parents to comment on their blog?

Other teachers dealing with this same issue here on campus responded this way:

Tom Ruark - Yes, I do get very frustrated. So, I sunk to bribery. A pack of Smarties for a blog comment from child or parent of child. I have established a few constant customers. Also, having a grade level, POD, or team email distribution list helps, as I can constantly stick in front of folks. See, I did it again. That's in case you missed it. The trick is that you have to work it into the "flow" of the email so that the reader does not recognize the less than subtle subliminal message. I usually say, "We just updated, and by the way you could check out, beacause the kids really did some cool work. Yep, subtle, like an anvil!

Debbie Harbour - I feel your pain! Some days I get frustrated that I do all this work to share their child's lives with them and nobody's listening. Last week I added a survey to the bottom of my newsetter that asked simple questions about my blog. Do you read it? Do you update automatically? Do you know how to write a comment? etc. I only received 5 surveys back. This week I put it on there again and stated since I only had 5 returned I was asking them to do it this week. Maybe that would be a start to help you see what they know and can do. Just a thought.

Debby Cothern & Michelle Ellis - The best way we have found is to show the blog to your students in class and then encourage them to go home that night and leave the class a message. The next day we bring back up the blog and read their messages to the whole class. The kids love seeing their words appear. I would also get a counter added onto your site. We have one on ours. We have had over 11,000 people view our blog since last August. Even if parents or viewers don't leave messages, we at least can see they were there.

Toni Chant - I hear you. I struggle with the same issue. Some of our students do not have access and that is unavoidable. We also have several parents that really don't read our newsletter and thus has caused confusion in the past. I, too, would love some ideas about getting parents to read our blog on a regular basis. I mostly find nowadays that I am limiting my posts since I don't feel that the families are really using the blog as often as I would like. I have even added the weekly homework assignments and still have parents who have internet access ask me for another copy of the homework. I would really love to hear what everyone thinks and is doing in their classroom.

When I asked my educator friends on twitter, here are the responses I received:

I love all of these ideas. They are all simple things to do. It might be worth experimenting to see which ones get you the best results. I think its important to remember that most parents are learning these things for the first time and when you teach, repetition is the key. If you're looking for a new way to explain blogging in your classroom so that the parents will "buy in" to the importance, check out this video made by Kathy Cassidy and her wonderful first graders. They show their parents what the term media literacy means and demonstrate how to comment on their class blog.

Imagine, if you were a student in that classroom, you could show your parents the video which shows all they steps they need for commenting. Kids are always anxious to show and share the work they are doing with you. Make sure you are giving them lots of opportunities to show off!

Continue asking, rewarding, experimenting and above all KEEP blogging! :)


Marie Rush said...

Well, I obviously need to comment, now, don't I? Love the ideas and loved the video. I am eager to hear how others are snagging comments---they are truly motivating!

Kathy Cassidy said...

Here is the best thing that I ever did to encourage parents to comment. Each year, I have a parent night in September at which I talk about grade one stuff and show the parents how to comment. This particular year, a parent had already figured out how to comment. I showed the comment and made a big deal about it, and the fact that this child's aunt had also commented. That evening, ten more parents commented, and kept coming back and commenting. Maybe it was partly a "keep up with the Jones's thing", but it was also that they saw how to do it.

Chascinc said...

An idea we used when we first set up our blog was to offer lunch bunch to every child whose parent read and commented on the blog.

We gave parents several days in which to do this and had a nice group of students eating in the classroom that week.

Miss Patterson said...

I do the blog for the kids and try to target the posts at them...I use the newsletter to reach the parents. Since I began targeting the posts at the kids, comments have increased. Also, if you try responding back to kids when they leave you a comment, it keeps them coming back to check the site all the time.