Lesson Plan: Use the “A+1” method when writing blog comments

Arguably the beauty of blogging can be found in the comments, where online conversations carry interesting potentials. When blogging with students, I’ve found it very rewarding to look at levels of quality in comment-writing, and I’ve seen great results in the form of friendlier, more thought-provoking writing, and a deeper comprehension of the blog itself as they weigh their reactionary options.

The “A+1” method is what I’ve termed an extremely simple yet effective way to look at the art of comment-writing, and I believe it’ll work with practically any audience. This method is featured in the PikiFriends curriculum, but I’ll include downloadables in this article which you can use with your preferred blogging platform (please use a safe one with learners!).

The 50-minute lesson plan below assumes that students are already members of a blog, however computers are not necessary to teach the lesson. (All lesson plans in the PikiFriends curriculum are designed to be taught with or without computers.)

Setting: Classroom of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) students, 50 minutes, without computers preferred in the beginning

English level: False beginner to fluent

Age: 10 and up

Objective: To focus on writing quality blog comments.

Materials: 2 PikiFriends worksheets, PikiFriends student textbook (all necessary documents are linked below)

Procedure:

1 – Introduce the very simple A+1 method. Look at the top half of the page below with students (click it to enlarge/print) and go through it at an appropriate pace.

2 – Check their understanding. Hand out the page below (click it to enlarge/print) and do with students. I like to read the blog post with students to assist their understanding and have them in pairs discuss the comments. (BTW comment #5 could be considered A+1 because the emoticon is an expression meaning shock.)

3 –  Try it out on paper. This is where the fun starts. The page below (click it to enlarge/print) is a template for a blog entry with four comments, and I’ve had great success with the following procedure:

1 – Hand out the paper to all students. Ask them NOT to write their names.

2 – Give students an appropriate amount of time to write their own blog post in the space provided (I give my high school ESL students 10-15 minutes, walking around to help when needed).

3 – Time’s up. Collect all papers (with no names), mix them up, and randomly hand them back to students. Make sure no one receives their own print.

4 – Quickly explain that they will have 1 minute to read the blog post and write an A+1 comment.

5 – Strictly time 1 minute. When finished, students change papers with each other and the next 1 minute interval begins. Repeat until all comment boxes are full (4 minutes total).

6 – Ask students to return papers to the original owners (“Who wrote about Lady Gaga?!?!” “Trip to Hawaii?!?”)

7 – Sit back and watch as they read the comments on their page.

8 – Ask them to rate the comments – are they A+1 comments?

This print is useful for practicing blog writing as well and can be used several times.

4 – Homework assignment. Go back to the textbook page (see step 1) and assign one or both of the bottom activities.

Conclusion: The “A+1” method works for my students because of its simplicity and the focus on building a constructive conversation. Try it with your students and I’d love to hear about it (with an A+1 comment of course).

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18 thoughts on “Lesson Plan: Use the “A+1” method when writing blog comments

  1. Great idea. I use my wiki to create “WikiBlogs” to discuss Reading Workshop books, assigned literature and now to share progress students are making on research projects. I always struggle getting them started. I am going to try this. Thanks!

  2. That sounds interesting. My students do blog work now, commenting on set questions, video links, and sometimes links to other blogs. It’s true, getting them to make meaningful comments is useful, something some people on other forums I have participated on have yet to do at times :).

  3. Great! I am so happy to have stumbled upon your blog as I begin a new position as a university level English instructor and want a good way to get my students engaged. Teaching 6 year olds for the past 18 months has given me the false sense of hope that I can entertain with videos and games all the time. haha I love using technology in the classroom and was trying to think of ways to incorporate a blog for these older students. Glad to see this could work well in a camp with middle-school students as well. Thanks for the great lesson plan idea!

  4. Thank you for your handouts. I hope to use them in a course I am teaching about Student Blogging. I will send my middle and high school teachers your way as they are looking for a safe, appropriate platform that is easy to use. They are just beginning to learn about blogging themselves, and I think this would be a perfect fit. As I am teaching several Student Blogging Courses I was wondering if you would perhaps allow me to join your site (I’m an elementary teacher) as it would be easier to promote if I understood firsthand how it works. Thanks for your consideration.

    • Hi Nancy,
      You’re most certainly welcome to join PikiFriends, thanks for asking. Everyone who wants to join sends an email to:
      info@piki-people.com
      and includes:
      1 – your name
      2 – your school email address if available
      3 – your school name
      4 – your school address
      5 – your school webpage if available
      Or you can send me an email with the same info:
      jeffreydionne@me.com
      It should take less than 24 hours to approve and you can get in there and see how it feels.
      We say “jr/sr high schools only” but in fact we’ve had some excellent upper elementary students on there. I think it’s a perfect age for this kind of thing.
      Thanks so much!

  5. Pingback: Use the “A+1″ method for blog comments Tips | Digital Candies 21 Century Learning by @goodmananat | Scoop.it

  6. Jeff, this is a good idea that I can integrate easily with my next blog. My kids are motivated by grades, so giving them an extra point (literally +1) will get them to either: a) comment on someone else’s comment; b) bring in an outside source and quote it (for those early comments); c) making connections with past learning or even across curriculum b/c my 10th graders are studying American literature. Hopefully, there will be some thinking done in the process. What a concept!

    Here’s my Philosophy blog for 11th and 12th graders: http://grovesphilosophy.blogspot.com/ You can check out the students’ blogs on the right hand side. They used three different platforms – Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr. Tumblr got banned by my district early on in the semester b/c some middle school kids were using it inappropriately which stunk b/c they couldn’t work on it at school. The philosophy students had to write 2 blogs every ten days or so: one that connected philosophy with our world and another that reflected on their reading of the class’s novel, Sophie’s World.

  7. Pingback: A+1 Blogging « sliceofrice

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