The following is from a weekly column I write in the OCDSB Business & Learning Technologies e-Newsletter called Curriculum Connections.
Using Bitstrips as a tool for a discussion of Character Ed traits, it was quickly noticed that the students were demonstrating acceptance, appreciation and respect in their cooperative approach to learning and their positive comments to peers on their finished stories. Great!
Looking more deeply, and reflectively, at the comments, we were soon discussing what constituted accountable talk and effective peer feedback. Using the following graphic as a starting point, students could be asked questions such as “How could your comment help the author develop his or her meaning?” or “What could you ask that would help the author understand how this connects to a safe and caring learning environment?”.
As further peer comments were analyzed it was noted that chronology played a part in the content, as is often the case when a blog is posted and the “long tail” of comments occurs. Often people comment, not on the original post, but on other peoples’ comments.
Many teachers have asked for a recommendation for a safe blogging site for their classes. Bitstrips has potential for a rich, interactive environment. Teachers can post a discussion question or graphic, using the Visual Language of the medium, which engages multiple learning styles, and students could comment using directed Accountable Talk. The teacher can easily jump in for “just in time” responses that ask for deeper connections, respectful disagreement with mindful rationale, or extensions of opinion. This activity could be done in a lab (partnering would elicit collaborative thought), or in a small group around a classroom computer.