Melissa White was looking for a way to help her students receive regular feedback on their student blogs. She recognized the challenge of responding to every student created post in a timely manner. Her solution was to involve classroom parents in the process.
The Blog Meister program began early in the first semester of the 2012/2013 school year. Melissa was looking for a way to provide and model clear and complete comments, check for errors that keep photos, links, or other elements from working, and to be on the look out for unkind or inappropriate language.
She wrote to all of her parents asking for volunteers and ended up with five participants. Melissa made the decision to not have any of the parents monitor their own child’s blog with the thinking that they would check out their child’s blog any way. The students were divided evenly among parent volunteers, given directions on what to do, and started viewing and commenting.
Melissa made a point of telling parents that their job was not to teach or correct, but to give feedback on what was written. She shared examples of what a comment could look like and asked that they make a comment on every post or as many as possible. To provide variety, she asked for new volunteers for the second semester and switched students around for parents who signed up for a second session. She thinks that switching by the quarter might be even better and plans to try that next school year when she introduces the program at Back to School Night.
Melissa ended the first semester by asking the Blog Meisters to create a handwritten note to their students in order to bring closure and have an opportunity to give some constructive feedback about their writing and commenting. She felt that this final effort was a valuable experience for students and mentors.
Next steps for the Blog Meister program include exploring the idea of involving extended family members, such as grandparents, to participate.
Melissa feels that this program is beneficial to her students because they have really enjoyed getting regular feedback on their blogs, it has provided them with a bigger audience, and has provided models for developing communication skills.
If setting up a program like this interests you, Melissa, firstname.lastname@example.org, is happy to share more of her insights and experiences. And of course, any of us in the tech room will more than happy to help.