Unit 3: Facilitating Discussions and Comments in the Blog Space
Welcome to Unit 3!
So, you've created your blog and added your students, now what? How do you use that blog in an educationally sound way to promote literacy? In this final unit, you will develop curriculum-based literacy discussion questions that are readily available to be implemented with your class through your blog. We will also finalize and implement your classroom literacy blog!
The following learning activities will help you establish discussion questions that can be easily implemented with your students through your blog. As you progress through the unit, remember to keep our guiding unit questions in mind.
Guiding Unit Questions:
- What is my role as facilitator in the blog space? How is this different than in the classroom?
- What aspect of my literacy instruction do I want to address in the blog space?
- What are my expectations for student participation in the blog space?
The following article discusses important ideas to be aware of as the facilitator of an online discussion community. As you read through the article, jot down ideas that seem important to you when facilitating your own classroom blog. Don't forget to keep in mind our guiding unit questions.
Time to write your discussion questions! As you develop your discussion questions, keep in mind a few things. First, refer back to the ideas you jotted down as you read this unit's article. Second, think about the curriculum content these questions will relate to. Third, remember that open-ended questions promote some of the best discussions in the classroom. This should be carried over to the blog space. Lastly, refer back to our model classroom blogs from Unit 1, if needed, to see how curriculum is addressed in the blog space.
Post your questions to our discussion space. Comment (positives and areas in need of improvement) on at least one of your peer's questions.
Here are a few resources to help you create your questions:
Discussion of the benefits of open-ended questions from Responsive Classroom.
Examples of different types of questions and sentence starters.
Bloom's Taxonomy and sample action verbs for each level; to help you develop your question language.
Now it is time to create your discussion "tool kit". In this "tool kit" will be the following resources: two discussion questions, student requirement check-list, sample student response, and facilitator questions. You may create this "tool kit" in any way that if most helpful to you. I suggest the "tool kit" either be in a word document or PDF.
- Based on your peers' comments, revise your discussion questions. Finalize these questions by ensuring they relate to curriculum standards and are open-ended, to promote discussion in the blog space.
Student Requirement Check-list
- Create a check-list for students to use as they answer the questions and engage in blog discussions. Refer back to this unit's article to help you determine what is important to you in your students' participation. Some things to consider are length of the student's post, amount of comments, and type of comments students should make.
Sample Student Response
- Write a sample response for students to refer to as they participate in the blog discussion. The response should reflect what you expect students to accomplish in their response to the discussion questions. You might also create sample comments to this response, to further model for students your expectations.
- Our reading this unit mentioned that sometimes teachers needs to step in and facilitate the discussion. This might mean re-directing the discussion, offering a new question to deepen discussion, or simply provide encouragement for students to continue to post. Although we cannot predict the direction student discussions will take, we can prepare ourselves with potential questions we can anticipate being useful. In order to prepare yourself to be facilitator, create some follow-up questions for each of your discussion questions. These follow-up questions should help further and deepen your original discussion questions. As you create these questions, consider how students might respond or the ways in which the discussion will plateau.
Post your "tool kit" to our discussion space before implementation. Comment (positives and areas in need of improvement) on at least one of your peer's "tool kits".
You're almost done! It is time to implement your discussion questions in your blog space! Before you implement, revise, as needed, your "tool kit" based on your peers' comments. Also consider the way in which you want to use these questions. For example, perhaps you will implement both questions at once, or maybe you will introduce one question one week and the second a few weeks later. Or perhaps you will use both questions, but let students have an option as to which question they respond to. Once you make this decision, it is time to refine and finalize your blog space!
To refine and finalize your blog space means that you will make changes in format/layout. This might mean changing the title, font, color, etc. to make your blog more user friendly for your students. You might also refine safety features for your students to better meet your needs and theirs. Finally, to refine and finalize your blog means you create a discussion space for your questions. Once you've added your discussion questions, invite students to respond and facilitate that discussion!
After you've implemented your discussion, post your feedback on our discussion page. Some ideas for feedback might include: success you've had using the blog, areas you would still like to improve, specific examples of students utilizing the blog space, or ways you plan to utilize the blog space in the future.
Classroom Homework- Practical Application
This is the final step in setting-up your literacy blog space. In this last unit, you need to share with students your expectations of them as they utilize the blog for literacy purposes. In order to communicate your expectations, share with students your requirement check-list. Share with students the sample student response, and discuss what they notice about this response that should be in their responses. Allow time for questions, and be prepared to facilitate more in this initial week than in the weeks to come.
Here is a 60-minute webinar, with teacher Catlin Tucker. The webinar discusses the best ways to increase participation and improve discussions through the use of online communities, or blogs. Certainly worth watching!