The story of a blog

Here I am again, with the second assignment of our PLC (Professional Learning Communities) group: Let’s explain how a blogging activity in our classes went.

With my Integrated Sciences MYP (Middle Years Program) 5 class (year 10) I just finished a biology unit on genetics and as criterion D, reflecting on the impacts of science, end of unit task I asked my students to create a blog on how biotechnology might be able to solve a problem. They had the choice to research on Stem cells, cloning, gene therapy, epigenetic drugs, GMOs or pharmacogenetics.

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To do so, the students got a task specific rubric, a help planning table and the school adapted criterion D rubric. Students got 4 hours of working time in class when we discussed their initial research questions narrowing them down and making them specific and also got the opportunity to clarify the concepts they were researching.

On the day the project was due, the students uploaded their research on their blogs, they have a school blog that is used by different subjects, and then had time to comment on each other’s blogs. Whilst the research with information that was to be included in their blogs was scaffolded by the MYP criterion D requirements I found that they needed some guidance to comment mindfully on each other’s blogs.

We had an interesting discussion about this during our last PLC meeting and we all, teachers from different subjects, found that students need guidance to provide mindful comments, otherwise they will just limit their comments, at age 14-15, to “I liked your blog”, “good job”, “really interesting”, etc… Some of my colleagues have already experimented with blogging with their students and English teacher Phil created an interesting blog “On blogging: the journey” very poetic to start with but, as I commented on his blog, with lovely tips for us new on this process about blogging with our students, on the second part.

As a PLC group, we discussed the need to create some guidelines to help students comment mindfully on blogs and though these guidelines are still in process of being developed I liked the commenting part of the draft we already had. I had the deadline for my class blog post approaching and decided to use the draft to see what the students may create with it. here the draft commenting on blogs guideline I shared with the class:

Commenting on blogs

Commenting on other people’s blogs and replying to comments left on your own are vital elements of blogging etiquette. When commenting, be sure to consider the following:

  • Be polite. Thank people for posting or commenting.
  • Make one point per comment and keep it concise
  • Refrain from using one-word comments, but explain exactly what and why you love a post
  • Ask thoughtful questions that help to facilitate further interaction e.g. a request to expand in more detail on a point or to consider a claim from a different perspective.
  • If you disagree with a claim, justify why in your comment. Consider posting a link or suggesting another source for the writer to review.
  • Your comments should be polite and constructive; as a blogger, you will also be a blogpost reader and commenter.

These example sentence starters may help you get going.

Once all had their blog uploaded, they were given 20 minutes to read one of the other student’s blog and leave a comment and then they had 5 minutes to go back to their blog and read and re-comment on what they got. We repeated the activity twice. I am happy with some of the comments they created and here I want to share an example of a comment on Griffin’s blog on stem cell use to cure type 1 diabetes.

I think you did a great job with this blog, you clearly state your view point on the issue you discuss and thoroughly explain the solution, including its benefits and drawbacks. One question you could have included the answer to is how effective has this treatments been and how common it is and its success rate. Overall you wrote a clearly structured report, include references, in text as well as listed with clear scientific explanations which are supported through images. Nice blog – Lisa

And Griffin’s answer

Thanks a lot for the feedback, Lisa. You’re right; I probably should’ve emphasized that treatments aren’t very common, so there aren’t many accurate success rates. good stuff

So I think we are getting there and moreover, we are helping our students to create a digital portfolio which might come to use when they apply to go to uni, as I discussed in my post “Why Blogging???”

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About DrAbella

Originally from Barcelona where I studied Biochemistry and did a PhD on Diabetes. Moved to France to continue medical research on cancer for a Post-doc. Something was missing and decided to try a year of full-time teaching. Starting my 10th year now, 10 years internationally and loving it.
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