Students are writing more than ever before. They are tapping out rapid-fire fingerstrokes across multiple platforms. From text messages to social media, children and adults of all ages are engaging like never before with the written word. This type of transliteracy emphasizes more than ever the need for thoughtful conversations and clear instructions that guide students in how best to express high quality feedback.
Most remarks in the comment sections of Instagram and YouTube are useless. They are either crass or curt, sprinkled with emoji that do more to satisfy the ego of the commenter than to further the richness of the page.
Instead, high quality comments on blogs and social media should create a dialogue that furthers the colloquy and deepens the learning. Replies on Twitter, for example, should offer suggestions or make interpersonal connections. Thoughtful comments in social media should add information, incorporate links, or most importantly, ask questions.
Susan Sedro offers a terrific post about "Teaching Children To Comment On Blogs" on her site, "Adventures In Educational Blogging." She includes a presentation, a document, and a rubric to help teachers incorporate successful commenting into their lessons. Similarly, Danielle Degelman recently shared on Twitter (@deedegs) a photo of her whiteboard with excellent tips on helping students comment successfully.
We learned a lot from both Sedro's and Degelman's suggestions. For our own learners, we combined these two teachers' ideas with a few of our own to make a handy one-sheet for our students. For example, our seventh-graders used it to exchange feedback via Twitter (#BCDSHist7) on their Thirteen Colonies research projects.
Here is the infographic we made to promote positive engagement through social media: