I'll be honest, I had heard of the hashtag #comments4kids before, but had never done much with it. I put it on that shelf - you know the one - the one called "things to do when I have time". On that day I finally made time and the experience was wonderful. #Comments4kids is hashtag that teachers post student work to for feedback from and authentic audience. The work that is posted there is all digital and varies greatly. One can find anything from fourth grade blog posts on sharks to senior AP chemistry blogs. The potential for developing and nurturing an authentic audience is #amazing! Teachers can comment on work by students other than their own, or better yet, match their students up with other students to give peer-to-peer feedback.
Segueing back from that little bird walk, I read through a few tweets during Jeff's workshop that were #comments4kids posts and found a great little book review blog post by a student at College Community School district in Cedar Rapids. The book was called Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosh, and the book report reminded me of a few other books that I had encountered in the past. Well, this was the opportunity I was waiting for, the chance to go literary geek on a post! Ok, in all seriousness I wanted to model the making of thematic connections between two texts. This skill is incredibly important from a literacy perspective because it helps aid in student comprehension by activating and developing student schema (not making this up, you can read about it here under text-to-text connections). So I responded to the student, thoughtfully, and told her that her post reminded me of both the novel Holes by Louis Sacher and Lord of the Flies by William Golding based upon the plot points that she described, but more importantly because of what she thought the theme of Bad Magic to be. I also asked her what other books she had read that had a similar theme.
Later that evening I received a very enthusiastic "Thank You" tweet from the media specialist at her school saying that he couldn't wait for her to read the comment. Ensue happy feelings for the rest of the night!
So here is my two fold challenge to you: one - how can you contribute to the digital village of #comments4kids? And two, how can you help your students find their audience? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
~Gina Rogers, Technology Consultant