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Tips for Student Comments on Blogs and Forums

A science teacher would never let his/her class play with chemicals and the Bunsen burner without setting the rules, procedures, and expectations. Similarly, it's important to set guidelines, rules, and expectations for students to comment on blogs and forums.

These guidelines should outline appropriate online behavior and internet safety precautions.

These guidelines can simply be borrowed from mine below, or you could create a class project to make your own.

  1. Students, parents, and teachers will identify the students by their first names only. (If a parent comments, it should read "Tracy's dad" instead of "Ken Watanabe"). 
  2. Keep personal information private, such as your last name, phone number, and where you live.
  3. Respectful comments are allowed.
  4. Proof-read comments are allowed. 
  5. Use complete sentences with appropriate grammar. ("Text talk" does not qualify).
  6. All comments submitted must have teacher approval first.
  7. Try to write comments that continue the conversation. (Click here for helpful hints).
  8. Try to find comments you agree with or made an impact on you, then add to the discussion. 

Create Guidelines Class Project or a Webquest:

Here is an idea of a webquest that could help you create the guidelines and expectations for your own blog:

Task: Our class blog needs guidelines for appropriate and safe online behavior. Your task is to create those guidelines.

Resources: Here are examples of effective blogging rules and guidelines.

High School and Middle School examples:
Elementary School examples:

General Procedure:
1) Which of the resources are our favorites? Why? What makes them effective?
2) Based on the above discussion, create criteria for what makes effective blog guidelines.
3) Collaborate to write our own blogging rules and guidelines.
4) Panel Presentation: Present your blogging guidelines to a real audience of experts. Allow them to use your criteria and/or their own to decide which one is best.

Timelines: You should set these up with daily goals. Graphic organizers or a wiki might be wise choices.

Assessment: A rubric with exactly what you are looking for should be created. Emphasis on effectiveness, clarity, originality (to avoid the ole copy/paste), and collaboration should be set.

Suggestion: Allow students to "try it out" and allow reflection/revision.

Anyone up for the task?

This post was inspired by CCJH's Ms. Schreiner who is in the process of creating her first class blog, Edublogs Teacher Challenge, and Patrick Ledesma's article.


  1. Hi Tracy - This is a wonderful post! First, thanks for some very valuable information and links. Commenting and conversation is an area that I am concerned about because I know that many of my students will not have had experience doing so on a blogging platform. From their interactions on Edmodo I can tell that they will need to work on their internet etiquette.

    Second, since I now seem to be viewing all blogs I read through the new lens of the Edublogs challenge, I really appreciate the finer points of this post! The Wordle embed, the links and attribution, in addition to the quality content. It is a great model for me.

    One technical question - for the smaller font size of your attribution, do you have the option to do that with Blogger? I can't seem to manipulate text size as I would like with without installing new "Typekits." Still trying to learn...

  2. Great post Tracy! I'll be bookmarking this one. Your resources and guidelines make this a really good exercise in project-based learning.

    We can't just set up a blog and expect students to be abreast of the finer points of netiquette. I think your assessment task is a practical way of introducing the concepts and boundaries involved in ethical blogging.

  3. @Suzanne,

    Thanks for the specific feedback. That is helpful.

    I agree, let's set them up for success by setting the expectations. The other day I took a group of students onto a forum. Half the group commented first, later the other group responded. I reminded them that what they type is there forever. I then emphasized responding to someone they agreed with and their goal was to continue the conversation. It was positive.

    As they were commenting, I was on my iPhone looking at their answers and giving them immediate feedback (IE "I liked your response because it explained what you agreed with and then you added to the conversation.")

    The kicker was, I had the principal go on and write responses too. So, when they returned to it, they had a VIP responding to them. When they realized the power of their words and the audience who was listening, it made a huge impact on their motivation and depth of discussion.

    To answer your question about Blogger, there are 5 choices of font: smallest, small, normal, larger, and larger. Since it's a Google product, it is very similar in looks and feel to Google Docs and Google Apps. It was easy to learn. How was the learning curve with Wordpress? Was it easy to figure out? I really like the sophisticated look from the Wordpress blog.

  4. @Amy,
    Thanks for the feedback. I can definitely see setting up the guidelines as PBL. Your response just gave me ideas for the Essential Question:
    What is ethical blogging? How does netiquette promote ethical blogging? Something along those lines. I'd have to keep working on it a bit. What do you think?

  5. Wowser! Great idea! I've bookmarked this page to try out your webquest. Thanks for the creating it! I like the essential question you've added also. How about, How does ethical blogging connect to our physical world? or something like that. I like to connect the online and offline worlds.

  6. @Ms Edwards,
    That's one solid essential question -- and so true, the virtual and physical worlds connect. I like how your essential question addresses that. Well done! I am so glad you shared.

  7. Tracy,

    Your blog guidelines have given me a great start for my student blog. I'm hoping to generate a bit more discussion on my blogs between students. Does anyone have any guidelines or suggestions on how to make that happen?

    Melody S. (CCJH)

  8. @Melody S.
    I just found this and I believe it will help in the discussion. What a great idea to have the posting and commenting guidelines.


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