Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Artful Comment

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The scribes in my classes continue to do outstanding work. I'm continually impressed by the depth and quality of the student's scribe posts. They work so hard on their scribes. Why do they do that? Most high school students look for the easy way out; "How can I get by with the minimum amount of effort on my part?"

The instructions I give them are fairly straight forward: "Write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was away sick, or missed class for any other reason, can catch up on what they missed." This semester I've also explicitly said: "Over the course of the semester, the scribe posts will grow into the textbook for the course; written by students for students. Remember that as each of you write your scribe posts. Ask yourself: 'Is this good enough for our textbook?' And remember, you have a global audience, impress them." ;-)

I think the greatest motivation to write well on the blog comes from the comments I leave them and they leave each other. But the comments they receive from "outsiders" are far and away the most powerful motivator of all. The "farther away" the commenter is, the greater the impact they have. Also, when they collect comments from diverse places around the globe the impact is greater still.

There's an art to leaving students a good comment. I'd like to share my thoughts on what makes a good, or artful, comment and I invite you to share your two cents as well (or tuppence as Ewan would say).

The Artful Comment ...

  • »... is always expressed using a positive tone.
  • »... if critical, is both gentle and sandwiched between positive statements.
  • »... is very specific when giving praise. This creates a sense of authenticity and believability in the comment.

    Example:
    This is a good scribe post Nikki. I like the amount of detail you included. It will be really helpful for anyone who missed class and for everyone when it comes time to review for the test and final exam.

    Way to go!

  • »... may be brief or lengthy but leaves the author of the blog post with the sense that the commenter is "on their side" and genuinely interested in their success.
  • » ... The Artful Comment (2 minutes 18 seconds): an excerpt from a longer podcast I did five weeks ago where I discuss my style of commenting on student's scribe posts. The scribe post discussed in the podcast is Scribe for Today!!
  • »...

Your tuppence?

4 comments:

Bronwyn G said...
17/2/06 22:27  

The page is still taking some time to go live, Darren.

I am sure I will be happy and impressed to hear it!

Love your suggestions for Artful Comments, and that your students (and your niece Ellie) are always thinking about how to go to the next level in their learning.

It will be very inspiring to listen to, I am sure, Darren.

Darren said...
18/2/06 08:31  

Thanks Bronwyn. The audio is really just a clip of the last 2 minutes of the interview I posted earler. I suppose you could load that and skip ahead to the end.

Bronwyn, I think you are one of the best and most prolific commenters in the edusphere. How do you decide on what to say and how to say it?

And thank you for the comments you continue to leave Ellie. You and Anne are her biggest supporters. You should see her face when she learns that either of you have left her a comment. ;-)

Cheers!

Ewan McIntosh said...
19/2/06 09:03  

Whenever introducing blogs for the first time I link it into formative assessment (or Assessment FOR learning), a concept more and more teachers are beginning to formalise in their own minds. More here: http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/mfle/currentinitiatives/assessmentisforlearning/qualityoffeedback.asp

Two stars and a wish is seen as the best way to provide feedback in class; I guess the same goes for blogging.

Darren said...
19/2/06 19:03  

I think you're right on Ewan. Blogging is an excellent format to orchestrate "assessment for learning."

Learning about learning ...

While walking ...
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With pictures ...
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Curating discoveries ...


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