Using threaded comments to build a writing community in your classroom


Since the recent changes in service at many of us have been looking at how this changes how we use these blogs with our students. Much of the discussion has focused on the more unpleasant aspects, the ads, the cost of getting rid of them (especially in these trying budgetary times), etc. the focus in general is on what we lost (something free without ads), but there are some new features too. One of those is threaded comments. This is rapidly bringing my blogs to the level I had always hoped to acheive–one where the students are talking to each other and not just talking to me. I’m writing this up in response to Sue Water’s challenge for the first birthday of The Edublogger.

First, blogging the old way. This post from my sixth grade blog has both the old and the new. If you look at the bottom, you get a sense of how things were the “old way” and why it didn’t encourage building a conversation. Look at the bottom, there there are comments from Miz Grace, who is a parent volunteer. Her comments are to various posts, which with an entire grade-level of 50-60 students, are no where near her repsonse. I had a “work around” to this, that I tried to teach Grace, but it was complicated. I would put my comments in the students comments, which you can do with admin rights on the blog, here’s an example. Now, let’s see what it looks like with threading:

Annabela S. //

What I like about Oak Park is that my family and friends are here. I also like the fact that there are lots of nice people, but then again there are mean people. I like the fact that I can be able to walk around the neighborhood without getting hurt.

Nai S. Reply:

This is really good.Great Job

Nicholas C. Reply:
Yeah I also like it here because some of my relatives are here. The other reason is some of the people here are my cousins are here and half of them are my best friends.

It is SO much clearer what is being commented on with the threading. It does require some teaching…

First, I require that students write a reply, and that it be a minimal length. I also warn them that although they are “chatting ” with friends, this is school, and what they write needs to be on-topic, and appropriate.  They really seemed to enjoy reading and responding to each other more than when I’ve asked them to comment on other comments in the past, before threading. So this is why you might want to invest $40 for supporter status, and how you can us it in a class blog to start conversations.

4 Comments to

“Using threaded comments to build a writing community in your classroom”

  1. February 25th, 2009 at 3:54 pm      Reply Sue Waters Says:

    Thanks for entering The Edublogger’s First Birthday competition and sharing your thoughts on threaded comments. I absolutely love threaded comments for the same reason as you – it makes it considerably easier to read the follow of the conversation.

  2. February 25th, 2009 at 4:15 pm      Reply alicemercer Says:

    Thank you for the kind words Sue! I think I might do another post soon, I’m thinking what it’ll be about. This is a good time to share I’ll be doing a presentation on blogging at CUE in Palm Springs, CA next week. I’m getting a lot of ideas from preparing for that training.

  3. February 26th, 2009 at 4:21 am      Reply Sue Waters Says:

    Would love to read your next post and don’t forget you can enter with several posts. I would really love to read how you introduce blogging to other educators or students.

  4. February 26th, 2009 at 9:34 am      Reply alicemercer Says:

    I should be able to manage that.


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