Recently, a teacher asked my opinion about editing students’ writing on blogs
“We are having a debate in our primary school at the moment – to what extent should we correct spelling/grammar in posts or comments by students? Our principal sees the posts as a finished product which reflect on our school, while the teachers prefer to see them as a work in progress, encouraging children to write. What do you think?”
This is a question I have pondered myself a lot in regards to blog comments. I can’t help having high standards for my grade two students and I want them to always strive to produce their best work. I also want their writing to be legible. Therefore, I have put a system in place to help students achieve a high quality comment.
The students need to realise that when you’re writing for a world-wide audience, you need to make your writing as good as it can be so that what you’re communicating is clear and effective. Often the fact that the students are writing for a global audience provides the incentive they need to achieve their best work.
While I don’t insist that my students’ comments are flawless, I do insist on an editing process.
This is a run down of the system I have put in place in my classroom:
- The students write their blog comment using Firefox as their internet browser. Unlike Internet Explorer, Firefox automatically puts a red line under misspelt words which makes the editing process easier for young students (and older students/adults!). Explicit instruction on what to do when you see the red line is something we cover incidentally on the IWB.
- The students read over their writing, checking for spacing, spelling, grammar and all the other things mentioned on our commenting checklist which is displayed in the computer area. Click here to view our poster
- The student has a friend read over their comment and point out anything that needs to be edited.
- They press Control C (copy) before hitting the submit button. This means if anything goes wrong (eg. wrong anti-spam word has been entered or internet connection is lost), they won’t have lost their comment.
- I moderate all comments. If a child has written a comment with some small mistakes, I leave it. If a comment has so many errors that it may be considered illegible (this doesn’t happen too often due to the above editing processes), I call the child over to my computer at an appropriate time and together we edit the comment to make it legible. Teaching at the point of need is quite powerful and I usually leave the child with one goal to work on in future blog posts (eg. it might be “don’t forget to press the space bar after each word”).
These are just my opinions and I don’t think there is any right or wrong answer but I do find, when you set the bar high, you can be amazed at what your students can achieve!
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9 Replies to “Editing Students’ Blog Comments”
I’m sure this post will generate many conversations between educators as I think it is something that most blogging teachers will have fairly strong opinions about.
I have very high standards for my students, and while I acknowledge that they are only eight years old, the editing process for blog comments is essential for ensuring our students are articulate and legible writers.
Like Kathleen, I allow small errors and would never correct every single mistake I see, but discussing various (and repeated) errors with the students makes them more self-aware the next time they comment on a blog.
The benefits of being firm with the standard of comment that you accept on a blog directly impacts on the writing skills of students. I have seen a huge improvement in many of my students’ writing and proofreading skills this year, and I believe blog commenting is the reason behind it. That makes me feel extremely satisfied that the process of editing that is put into place really works!
@ Kelly, thanks for offering your thoughts.
You highlighted how important that discussion with students about repeated and various errors is. It’s kind of like “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” These children need feedback and explicit instruction to be able to take their writing to the next level. If we don’t provide them with this then perhaps we’re not helping them to achieve their full potential.
One of the things I love about blogging is because it’s an ongoing thing (ie. the students are writing on a blog every week of the year) then they can keep refining and improving every time they write, as opposed to other genres which might only be covered for a few weeks of the year. This allows real opportunities for improvement and we need make the most of these opportunies.
I agree Kathleen that it is something we need to think about quite carefully. I love your explicit guidelines and your poster, by the way. My students are older, so in theory they should make fewer mistakes. In my class I closely monitor posts into their blogs if they are what i call ‘presented’ items and it is obvious that they were written in class time. Many of my students will also up-date regularly with their own ideas and thoughts and I do not correct these.
When they comment on the main part of the class blog though, I will not approve a comment if it has too many errors. in that instance I will ask the student to re-write it and check it themselves. I think it is all about finding the right balance.
Thanks for your comment!
I didn’t really talk about student posts in my post. My students who have blogs are free to write whatever they like in their posts (as long as it follows our blogging guidelines for cyber safety and etiquette). As with comments, I encourage an editing process for posts and would only help students fix up their post if it had a lot of errors or was incoherent. You’ve very right – it is all about finding the right balance.
We have had quite some discussion about this at our school, so your post was opportune. Writing to communicate with others is as ancient as the skill of writing itself. To produce a reputable piece of writing is a matter of respect and our students are capable of achieving this with our support.
We have implememnted your guidelines in our classrooms! Thanks Kathleen for your contant call to expect high standards and your generosity in sharing your ideas!
@ Marg, thanks for your kind words. I’m glad you found the guidelines helpful. They’ve been formed with a bit of trial and error but I find they work for me and my students.
I know this post was written a while ago however I just wanted to say a huge thank you. I have found your posts and blog so helpful in setting up my class blog this year.
I am the first at my school to attempt a class blog
and as I am a recent graduate the more experienced teachers are quite skeptical about its educational value. My Principal is being extremely supportive and with that and the wonderful advice and honesty with which you share your teaching practices I feel like I can do this.
While I know there is no one right answer to teaching it is great to see everyone’s perspective on issues like editing student work and see how you are using your blog with years of experience under your belt. With permission I would like to use your blog comment posters for my classroom and follow your system for teaching students about quality comments.
Thank you again
So glad you have found my blog useful and yes, please use the poster. I hope your students get a lot out of it.
You’re lucky to work with such a supportive principal and I’m sure you’ll have a lot of success this year!
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