Writing Quality Comments

How to Compose a Quality Comment! from yourwonderfulteacher on Vimeo.

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As part of the wonderful Flat Classroom project that I am working on for my Course 5 project, my 3rd grade students are using Edmodo to communicate with other students around the world. I felt a need to guide them towards writing more quality comments and I was excited to start teaching this as I knew there was quite alot of great information in my PLN – we all can learn from each other, right? I found a great video from Mrs. Yollis’s class in California which gave my students some ideas about writing quality comments. Some of the tips we learned were:

When commenting on someone else’s blog,

1. Compliment the writer in a specific way – Show the reader you have read and understood what they are writing about. If you enjoyed something they wrote about – tell them! Who doesn’t like to hear something nice about their work?

2. Add new information – If someone wrote about poachers killing elephants in Africa, and you know of a way kids can help to stop the poachers, add that information to your post! It is great to learn from each other!

3. Make a connection – If the writer wrote about their trip to the Bronx Zoo and you absolutely love the Bronx Zoo and can’t wait to tell about your favourite place inside there – by all mean, share your connection. It makes for interesting reading and writing!

4. End with a question – Try to get a conversation going! Ask relevant questions from the reader. For example, if someone posts something about the Tappan Zee Bridge, and you were wondering what year it was built, ask them! Hopefully you will get an answer back.

5. Proofread your comment – Make sure your words are spelled correctly, always remember your capital letters at the beginning and add punctuation at the end. And remember, if you want to show excitement, use your words, not exclamation marks.

I also found some great information all the way from Australia, which I shared with the classes. We sorted blog comments into quality ones. We found a useful guide for writing great blog comments, and developed our own by discussing what would work best for us.

Here is my guide for writing quality blog comments. How do you get your students to write more quality comments?

Created by Heather Goggins

Created by Heather Goggins






Jigsaw Puzzle

As part of the Flat Classroom “A Week in the Life”  project which we are participating in, third graders were asked to create a digital handshake, a way to say hello virtually, as one of the 3rd graders put it. Students gave suggestions about unique things from where we live using Padlet. Next I used Picasa’s Collage Tool to make our collage and I used Jigsaw Planet to mix up our puzzle pieces. Can you solve the puzzle? If you want to see all the jigsaw puzzles from the other schools participating  it is on a Symbaloo link. Enjoy!

Our Jigsaw Puzzle



We have started using Edmodo with my 3rd grade students, as part of my Flat Classroom project which is also part of the Course 5 Final Project. What is Edmodo, you might ask? From the Edmodo website,

“Edmodo is a secure, social learning platform for teachers, students, schools and districts. We provide a safe and easy way for your class to connect and collaborate, share content and access homework, grades and school notices. Our goal is to help educators harness the power of social media to customize the classroom for each and every learner.”

It is fantastic so far. I’m just beginning to learn how to use it, so as I learn new things I show the students. So far we have learned how to share links and then save them into our digital backpack (you can also save files there), give assignments to either a whole class or groups of students, and create polls. There is also a great function on there to give quizzes to students that I am itching to begin!

Is Technology Helping Us, Anyway?

In February 2011, I attended an ICT in PYP workshop. It was fantastic and I learned alot being around other teachers involved with and interested in the same topics I was interested in. At the end of the workshop, one of the participants said that they had misgivings about technology – was it really helping? On the way home, I had a long and hard think about this. I mean, obviously it was working, right? Kids are smarter than ever, right? Especially Americans? They have so much more knowledge then they had when I was in high school, right? But then why are American students still lagging behind their international counterparts?  American students have great access to the web – and you can even buy one of those nifty Chromebooks for only $199 USD! Why aren’t they doing any better? All this high stakes testing surely has to be helping students attain knowledge, right? Then why are Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard employees in the Silicon Valley sending their kids to Waldorf schools? 

Is technology helping us? I suppose the answer to the question is – Can I be sure? No. Am I in the COETAIL program and integrating technology into my lessons because I believe it strongly? Yes. I do think using technology is helping students to become more aware of the world around them – bring the world into their classroom and making them better informed citizens. I sometimes am envious of my students – I would have loved to be a student in the present day where quad blogging, Skyping around the world, Flat Classrooms and doing fun activities like Geography Detectives were the norm.

Will education change because of technology? Yes, I strongly believe so. Where will we be in the future? That I can’t answer – if I could I’d be working for Apple or HP. I do believe that with proper training of teachers to integrate and use technology into their classrooms, we are moving onwards and upwards.

What do you think? Do you think technology is helping? Where do you see education in the future?


Are we going to flatten our classroom walls today, Mrs. Goggins?

Embracing globally collaborative projects is definitely an interest area of mine. As Jeff mentioned in his post, the RSS reader is a big hit – I have really enjoyed using Feedly on my computer and Flipboard on my iPhone has made commuting much more enjoyable. The first blog I subscribed to was Julie Lindsay’s E-Learning Journeys, and imagine my surprise when the very first blog post was asking for applications for the Flat Classroom K-2 Building Bridges to Tomorrow project. I excitedly filled out the application and was quite pleased to find out my class was accepted.

I have participated in global collaboration projects previously with varying degrees of success. I’ve used ePals before and set up pen pals by email with my students, but found that many of our emails went unanswered. Another project I have enjoyed collaborating with other classrooms globally is the Flat Stanley Project.

We have begun the Flat Classroom project and have met twice now to speak to all the participants together, using Blackboard Collaborate to meet online. The first session I was in such awe of the ability to meet with so many different educators at the same time that I was just smiling the whole time. My class has been matched up with three other classes,  two from the US and one from Australia. We have begun by making a class handshake and watching the other handshakes from other classes.  We received a Voicethread handshake from the class in San Francisco, and my class sat watching, mesmerized. I can see how technology is changing the the learning landscape – I would have loved to have been a child and collaborating with other classes globally!

Here is the video of my class handshake.