Blogging: Teaching Commenting Skills

I am currently in the process of introducing my Grade Two students to blogging. Our 2KM class blog is proving to be very popular with students and families.

As I have previously blogged about, I like to follow these steps when introducing blogging to students.

blogging progression

This is my third year of blogging with young students and I am still learning all the time. In previous years I believe I progressed much too quickly from having students comment on the class blog to writing posts. My students never really learned how to compose a quality comment and I believe I didn’t set my expectations of the students high enough! I was happy for them just to be commenting.

This year I am taking a different approach. Inspired by the amazing commenting skills of Mrs Yollis’ Third Grade students, I am putting a lot of effort into teaching my students how to write quality comments on posts before we move on to writing posts.

By “quality comments” I mean

  • writing the comment like a letter (greeting, body, closing, signature)
  • using correct spelling, punctuation and spacing,
  • reading over the comment and editing before submitting,
  • complimenting the writer in a specific way, asking a question, and/or adding new information to the post,
  • writing a relevant comment that is related to the post,
  • not revealing personal information in your comment.

I really wanted to limit the “I like your blog!!!” or “2KM is cool” type comments and I am finding this explicit teaching of what a quality comment looks like is really working.

I am teaching students commenting skills through

  • modelling and composing comments together  on the IWB,
  • teaching students about the “letter” format during writing lessons,
  • giving examples of a poor/high quality comments and having students vote whether the comment should be accepted or rejected,
  • having students read and comment on a post on our blog as part of a literacy rotation on the computer each week.

I collaborated with my teaching partner, Kelly Jordan on this poster “How Can I Write a Great Blog Comment?” to teach students about blogging skills. We will also send a copy of this poster home with each child.

Blog comment poster

Linda Yollis has written a fantastic article about how to teach commenting skills. It is well worth a read!

I have “borrowed” many ideas from Linda such as recording a screencast video that shows how to leave a comment on the blog. I recorded my screencast through Jing. I also used Linda’s idea of sending an email out to all parents to encourage them to leave comments.

As Linda says, “commenting is what keeps the blog alive” and “teaching and encouraging good commenting skills makes your blog more interesting for everyone.” I agree!

*Leave a comment if you have any more ideas about teaching commenting skills to students!*

55 thoughts on “Blogging: Teaching Commenting Skills

  1. I’m almost afraid to comment. I might not meet your standards! Anyway, I applaud you. I’ve been trying to encourage teaching proper etiquette for all forms of digital messaging. Why do we not teach it, then are critical of kids for doing it poorly.

  2. Kathleen,
    Thanks for another great post. This is a fantastic explanation of why commenting is so important, and how to help students grow from it. You and Linda have helped me immensely with my blog this year!

    I’m finishing up my own screencast with Jing now. I was wondering if I could “borrow” the format of your “how to comment” page when I post my own? Also, could you send me a .doc version of your “how can I write a great comment” poster so I can tweak it for my class?

    Thanks again for all your fantastic tips. (And thank you to Linda also!)

    • @Thomas, LOL – thanks for the comment!
      Hope the post helps. I agree that we sometimes assume kids know more than we think. Especially when it comes to specific technology skills. It was quite enlightening when I realised I have to explicitly teach my students what is a good comment!

      @Jonah, when it comes to teaching commenting, Linda is a pro!
      I’m glad it helped and good on you for making your Jing screencast! Please borrow anything you like and I will email you the doc version of the poster now!

  3. I’m really enjoying taking a peek inside your classroom and learning about how you teach your students to blog. I love your step by step approach. I am loving the idea of posting as a class using the whiteboard before individually posting. I suspect that your students are really proud and eager by the time they get to post individually. Thank you for sharing your approach to blogging and the “how to write a blog comment”. Valuable skills for todays kids!

    • Thanks Kelly, I look forward to getting to the next step but I think the students still have a fair bit of work to go on learning how to post quality comments. I will keep persisting! I know the students will love to write their own posts. I suspect some students will get to that stage quicker than others!

  4. Kathleen,
    A huge fan of process, I am pressed by the way you not only focus on skills, but also build excitment along the way. Yes, I am certain your students will love writing their own posts and those who get there quicker will encourage and be encouraged by those coming along after.
    Keep up the great work!

  5. @ Chris, a do like a good “process” myself! Things have become so much clearer now that I’m following this process rather than dabbling in teaching how to write posts and comment at the same time. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Thank you Kathleen for this post.
    I have been sharing blogs with teachers over the past two years now and the one thing that can be more challenging is the commenting and encouraging people to devote sufficient time for it. If we don’t comment we might as well have written in our books rather than on a blog.
    I wil be sharing your post on my courses in future and trying to encourage the teachers to leave you a comment.

  7. Hello Kathleen,
    I found your post to be informative and focused. As a kindergarten teacher, I have also been teaching how to communicate using blog comments. We do this as a whole class and model how to support the author through knowledge of their topic. We ask questions to further show comprehension of the message. We often ask a question and we usually close with the same phrase that the children like to own – “Keep up the good work!” I will be adding you to my Reader and I thank Sue Waters for leading me to you.
    We have also started blogging our own posts. This is being done in class, individually, and is shared with parents who are encouraged to post comments or even new posts with their children. That group of student blogs is closed to the public.

  8. @ Joy, you’re right that if people don’t comment on blogs then there is no real benefit of blogging over writing in books! Thanks for sharing my post!

    @ Gail, your site looks great and I look forward to checking it out further! Sounds like your have a great process happening in your class and I look forward to following your progress on your site.
    “Keep up the good work!” :-)

  9. Hello Kathleen,
    Thank you for your great post. You have encouraged me to try blogging with my 4th graders. I have never done this before and think your guidelines will be very helpful to me. It is important to have high expectations for this type of writing, especially when I see how my students write and spell when they are text messaging!
    Thanks again!

    • @ Marissa, I agree that we need to have high expectations and students shouldn’t really be taking shortcuts until they know the correct way to write and spell. Good luck starting up your blog and please let me know how you go with it. I’m sure you’ll find there are so many benefits to blogging and you and your students will just love it!

  10. Dear Miss McGeady,
    Wow! I have really enjoyed exploring your blog (and your class blog)! I am about to start my internship in a 4/5/6 class and busy trying to get a blog together for the first time! I am hoping that I can build stronger school-family-community partnerships through the blog, and create parent interest in the students’ learning! BUT- there is so much to learn, I am now thinking this class will be my ‘trial run’, and it may not be as effective as I hope!! But, I want to thank you for the commenting guidelines, I am planning on explicitly teaching this now! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on how to teach blogging better (I am sure I would have jumped right on it with letting the students post too!!)

    Kindest Regards,
    and all of the best!

    Miss Aulbury

    • @ Miss Aulbury,
      I am finding blogging a fantastic way to build home-school-community partnerships and the families really love it! Start small and build from there. Good luck with your blogging journey and let me know how you go!

  11. Pingback: Guest Post by Kathleen McGeady: Teaching Commenting Skills | The Edublogger

  12. Hi Kathleen
    I am a teacher currently based in South Australia who is trying to teach myself many of the skills that you feature in your blog. I have recently visited blogs by 2 of your students and was impressed by both young girls’ blog pages. I thought I would like to make a few comments to you their teacher, that you might like to pass on to them. Firstly I was most impressed with their polite, formal and comprehensive responses to my post and the posts of others. Having now read this article on your blog I can see that it was no accident that they wrote so well. I have a daughter the same age and it has certainly set a high standard for her and others to follow.

    Bianca has drawn quite a bit of attention from teachers like myself from around Australia who are all as impressed as I am by the sounds of it. She shows amazing confidence and maturity in her discussions. I am sure she would love to also hear from children her own age but it occurs to me that she is still in a minority (at least in this country and in the education environment)doing this type of thing. I am interested what you think about how widespread or common young people blogging is.
    I will be following your blog with interest.

    • @ Adrienne,

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. I will certainly pass your compliments onto Bianca and Rhiannon.

      I am continually impressed by my students who never fail to meet the high standards I set for them. It amazes me what 7 and 8 year olds can achieve if you set the bar high and provide them with support and structure.

      From observing the way much older students interact on the internet I know these sorts of skills don’t come naturally and need to be taught early on.

      To answer your question, it appears that students in junior primary having their own blog is quite rare. Without being too critical, I think there are a lot of older students who embark on blogging quite unprepared and have little understanding of blogging etiquette, how to write quality posts and quality comments. Hopefully through posts like these I can educate some teachers on what has worked for me in teaching my young students about blogging.

      I hope my work with blogging has been useful to you and it’s also pleasing to hear that your daughter has benefited as well!

      Thanks again for your comment :)

      • Dear Kathleen
        I would like to thankyou for opening and teaching my child the wonderful and correct way of blogging.
        As a parent you too have opened up my world and I am very greatful for that.
        For I do believe this is a wonderful way to learn how to write, and commment in the correct way.
        Your a wonderful teacher and a super role model to follow and I thankyou for you really have opened up our eyes with blogging.
        Keep up the outstanding work.
        From AA.

  13. This is really helpful – thank you. You’ve given a really good guideline to the teaching of commenting skills.

    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?

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  15. Hi Kathleen, this is a great stuff, using modern technology in regular classroom will surely make some important changes, I ll also try this in my classroom – but don’t you think it influence the practical knowledge?

  16. Hi Kathleen,

    Thanks so much for all your wonderful information on classroom blogging! It has been a great resource for getting started with my students. I really like your guidelines for making good comments. May I make a copy of it to post in my computer lab? I’d also like to develop a rubric for my students using these guidelines.

    Thanks so much!

    • @ Adria,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m so glad you found the resources useful.

      Feel free to use the blogging guidelines but please acknowledge it as from our blog.


  17. Thanks Kathleen for this post.
    I have been sharing blogs with teachers over the past two years now and the one thing that can be more challenging is the commenting and encouraging people to devote sufficient time for it. If we don’t comment we might as well have written in our books rather than on a blog.
    I wil share your post on my courses in future and trying to encourage the teachers to leave you a comment.

  18. Hi Kathleen,
    I have really enjoyed reading your thoughts regarding comments and blogging with students. I am new to blogging having just completed the Teacher Challenge with Edublogs. I have shared this newly created blog with my students and several have asked if they could have a blog attached to our library blog. I was going to enroll them in the Student Challenge…but having read your thoughts I’m thinking I’ll hold off and instead encourage them to look at others blogs and make quality comments. I think they will be disappointed but I agree we must set our standards high and aim for quality. Baby steps. Baby steps.

    • @ L Howlin,

      Thanks for your comment and welcome to the wonderful world of blogging!

      Well done for completing the Teacher Challenge. It is a terrific introduction for new bloggers.

      I know exactly how you and your students feel about this issue. When I first started, I had students writing posts from day one and for months we never looked at another blog or talked about quality commenting. I’m glad I decided to put more of a structure in place the following year as my students have got so much more out of blogging. In fact, I would say the outcomes and benefits of the two different styles of blogging I have tried are incomparable.

      I believe you made the right decision! If you let your students know they can earn their blog later on, I’m sure they’ll be committed to learning as much as they can about blogging.

      Good luck!

  19. The technology director of the district that I work for sent me the link to the blogging article that you wrote. My co-teacher and I had expressed interest in blogging with our students next year. This has been really informative and I’ve gotten tips on things that I hadn’t even thought of.

    Thank You!

  20. Dear Kathleen,
    Thank you very much for your blog article “Blogging: Teaching Commenting Skills”. I have a few blogs, but I must admit I am not very good at keeping up with posting to them. This year I am planning on teaching my students, at least the 3-5 graders, to blog their reflections on their experiences in my elementary engineering class. I like your step by step approach beginning with modeling and teaching the students how to write thorough and meaningful comments, and by doing this as a whole group approach before beginning to write their own posts. I’m glad to see you wanting to get the students away from the standard txt speak that so many kids are picking up. I have three kids, myself, ranging from 10-16, so I am all to familiar with that shorthand text. (And it drives me crazy!) I feel we need to teach our students, all of them, including our own children, how to have rich conversions in our comments, texts, and messages to each other, even if we are limited to 140 or 160 characters. Children need to think about the deeper meanings rather than the automated “I like it because its cool” responses.

    Thank you for giving me some good ideas to follow as I begin teaching blogging.

    • @ Michelle,

      Thanks so much for your feedback. I agree, there is a place in society for txt speak but we need to teach students the correct conventions first! Getting the students to think more deeply can be a challenge but is rewarding!

      Kathleen :lol:

  21. Kathleen,
    Many thanks for another great post. This is a really clear explanation of why commenting is so important, and how to help students grow from it. You have helped me immensely with my blog! I hope you don’t mind if I “borrow” the format of your “how to comment” page when I post my own?

    • Hi Karen,

      Thanks for your support! I don’t mind if anyone borrows anything as long as they link it back to my site. Feel free.



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  24. Mrs. Kathleen Morris,

    I also have been eager to have my students post any comment (not necessarily quality ones). I do not have my own classroom yet (I work in an after school program now and will student teach 4th grade in January) but when I do I will teach commenting skills as you have.

    Thanks for all the great advice. Your sharing of Jing was an unexpected gem at the end of the post! I am not a fan of “print scr” and being able to make videos is incredibly valuable.

    Check out my blog and leave a comment if you get a chance!

    Mr. Stezzi

    • @ Mr Stezzi,

      Thanks so much for your comment. Your blog is looking fantastic and it is great to hear that you’re planning on getting your students into blogging.

      Good luck!

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  26. Dear Kathleen,
    This year will be my first year to blog with my class. I have enjoyed reading your blog. It is a fountain of knowledge for people like me who aren’t tech savvy at all.
    Your posts on commenting and guidelines are very clear. Producing any quality kind of quality writing is a skill which we as teachers need to teach our students. Thanks you for posting this article.
    Would I be able to use your dot points on writing quality comments on our class blog?


    • Hi Irene,

      I really am so glad to hear you’ve found my resources useful!

      Yes, feel free to use the poster. I hope it is as useful for your students as it is for mine.

      I just replied to your comment on the 2KM and 2KJ blog too.

      Best of luck with blogging!


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  28. I definitely see the logic in teaching commenting before blogging. This is my first year with student blogs and it’s not going too well.

    But, it took me three years to figure out how to get students to create quality ePortfolios. The road to quality blogs will probably be the same.

    Thanks for the advice. I’m saving and recording it all!

    Janet |

  29. Hi Kathleen,

    Your advice is fantastic, thank you for sharing it with those of us who are learning! It is a great help!

    Would I be able to borrow your poster on how to write good comments???

    Keep up the great work, I love reading all your advice!


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  31. Dear Kathleen,
    I have just started a blog with my class. Your article on ‘Teaching Commenting Skills’ has made me realise that I’m moving too fast with my students. I was just happy that they were commenting on the blog and I wasn’t focusing on the quality!
    I was wondering if I could use your dot points on writing quality comments on my class blog?
    Thanks for the great advice.

    • Hi Natalie,

      As you know I made the same mistake when I first started. When I slowed things down and implemented a structure, the students achieved much more. I’m sure you’ll find the same.
      I’m happy for anyone to use any of my work with attribution and a link back to our blog.
      Thanks for asking and good luck!


  32. Dear Kathleen,

    I’ve just started looking into blogs and how to use it in my classroom, so as a beginner myself in the blogging world I have found your edublog very helpful! The links you have included are interesting and have tweaked my interest in the possibilities this will create in my classroom.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Gina,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and I hope my resources help you and your students!

      Good luck,

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