I will preface this by saying that paper blogging is not my idea! It’s one of those, “Wow! Why didn’t I think of that!” activities.
A couple of years ago, desperately wanting to take student blogging to a level past the “Hi. How are you? What are you doing?” stage, I started searching for ideas – and came across a wealth of information!
The following resources introduced me to paper blogging.
- Workshop Activity: Paper Blogs from Mobile Learning
- Learning to Blog Using Paper from Notes from McTeach
- Preparing Students for Wall Blogging from Langwitches
Who would have thought that students coming to a computer lab would become so engrossed in writing that they never once asked when they would get on the computers! Now, even though the students have blogged for the past few years, I always start with this unit – just to make sure students refocus on the intent of our blogs: To share their learning in a positive and meaningful way.
Taking the food idea from Leonard Low’s Workshop Activity: Paper Blogs, I asked students to raise their hand if they liked to eat. Of course, that brought an enthusiastic response! I told them that they would be writing a blog post on paper and the following day would be spent writing comments using sticky notes.
The instructions were to write about a favorite food – it could be from a restaurant or something made by parents, relatives, or anyone else. They needed to write something that would paint a picture for the reader – use details! Pictures always spruce up a post so illustrations were strongly encouraged.
The paper was distributed and we worked together to include the basics of a post:
- First name at the top (good place to talk about keeping personal information private; no last names)
- Tags – This was a good review for students. What is your post about? Everyone could add “food” as a tag. As you write, you’ll think of other tags to add that would help readers find all posts about specific subjects . . .
- Title – every post needs a title!
Then the students scattered in the small room to find a space to write. At first there were murmurings about their topic and how delicious their chosen food was (and how hungry they were becoming just thinking about it . . .), but soon all you could hear were pencils and pens scratching across the paper.
The next day was commenting day. I had folders on the keyboards and 6 sticky notes on the folders ready for students when they walked in. Using information from Mrs. Yollis’ third graders on How to Write Quality Comments, we discussed what kinds of comments would encourage a conversation as opposed to those that would stop the discussion. We discussed how important it is to avoid comments such as: Cute! Wow! That’s awesome! because these didn’t further the conversation.
I am pretty sure that the idea of penny and dollar comments comes from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano and we use this often. (If not, I sincerely apologize and ask that you let me know!) This is where you compare a penny to a comment – you can’t buy anything with just one penny so it’s basically worthless. On the other hand, you ARE able to buy a few things with a dollar simply because it’s worth more.
That’s the way comments are. Penny comments are pretty much worthless. They really don’t tell you anything. They are often just a word or two OR they are completely unrelated to the post. But a dollar comment offers so much more! It acknowledges the author, asks questions, gives details, relates to the writer. In this day and time, though, we don’t just talk about dollar comments. With inflation, our students decided that $20 and up comments were much better than a measly dollar!
After the discussion, instructions were given. Students were to leave their paper blog at their computer but take the sticky notes with them. I had them stand behind their chair then told them to count 4 chairs clockwise. They were to stop at that spot, read the blog and write a comment (being sure to put their first name on the sticky note).
When finished with the first comment, students were told that from now on they would need to read the post AND all comments. It’s important to do that so that they don’t repeat someone else’s responses.
We continued to make the rounds until there was only one sticky left. At that point, students were instructed to return to their own blog, read all comments, and then choose one to write a response.
After that we regrouped to reflect. Some things that were brought up included:
- Legibility – Of course, handwriting can be hard to read at times but even when writing on the computer, colors and font need to be considered. Can it be easily read?
- Anonymous comments – It’s more meaningful to know who is doing the writing. (Besides, I don’t approve anonymous comments!) Even though students were told to write their names on the sticky notes, some forgot – perfect teaching moment.
- Penny vs more valuable comments – Without telling who wrote comments, students shared ones they thought weren’t helpful to furthering the conversation. They also shared the dollar and up comments they received.
I have to say this is my all-time favorite activity! The students really get into paper blogging and I have NEVER had anyone complain that they came to the lab but never got on the computer! This is such a worthwhile activity to do to prepare students for online blogging. I can’t wait to get them going in KidBlog!
Just a few Resources:
- 14 Steps to Meaningful Student Blogging from Pernille Ripp’s Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension - an excellent list of useful ideas to guide you and your students
- How to Compose a Quality Comment - an informative video about how to write a quality comment made by Mrs. Yollis’ third graders
- Quality Commenting Video by Third Graders - tips from third graders and Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s Langwitches blog
- Blogging Guide from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano – Silvia is one of the most creative and knowledgeable people I’ve come across. She has an amazing ability to create flyers and write posts filled with the most awesome and helpful information!
- Blogging with Elementary Students - a series of posts from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano.
- Making Paper Blogs to Prepare for the Online Experience - an adaptation of Leonard Low’s activity