A conversation, the give and take of ideas among people. We converse in the hallway, at dinner, or any time we meet. We listen to the stories of our friends, and we share our own. We ask questions, and answer those of others. We laugh. We cry. We agree. We disagree. We consider what our friends say. We may even change our own ideas. But the important thing is, we share, consider, and continue the dialogue. That’s a conversation. Isn’t it?
What is a blog conversation?
As you have been practicing, good bloggers spend time reading and commenting on others’ blogs. We look for posts of interest to us and leave a comment expressing our ideas and appreciation for the topic information. Commenting is a form of conversation with the author of the blog.
As bloggers, we can do more to extend the conversation. We can add value to others’ ideas by extending the conversation into our own blogs.
When we read others’ blog posts. We enjoy, learn, or disagree with them. In our minds, we have a response. That’s what we want to capture, that spark of connection when we read the posts.
Read to find that spark, that connection — the place in the blog post you think, “Ah.” or “What?” or “Yeah.”
At that point, that’s your cue to add to the conversation. It’s your gift back from the value given in the post. Copy that part of the idea.
Then, with the best digital citizenship in mind, we write a post about that idea, and your gift back: do you agree? disagree? learn something? have a different or new idea?
Go for it: Share their idea and your response — being overly positive as we always do so the author feels accepted and not disrespected.
Link back to the original blog.
Then comment on the blog with a link to your response post.
You’ve just started a blog conversation!
So, How do I start a blog conversation?
Find a post with a spark — an idea that you connect with other ideas
Copy that part of the post
Start your post with that quote and the author’s name.
Link the author’s name to their blog (put the URL of that POST as a link from the name)
Thank theauthor for their idea
Add your ideas: a new idea, a different idea, an agreement and why, a respectful disagreement [I wonder if...], a question and your answer
Publish your post
Go back to the original post and comment with a link to your post
Smile: You’re a blogger!
Blogging is a Conversation
If you blog, you’re a writer, an author, but take it further, be a the blogger that adds value to your connections. Be a connected learner.
This blog post is an extension of a conversation learned in a WizIQ webinar I took with Stephen Downes, which I wrote about here, to share my learning and my response to that webinar learning. I learned that the connections are what is important:
In order for what we are saying to make any sense, it needs to be a response to something.
Find places where you can add value rather than pursue a particular goal or objective
In almost all fields, connecting with others IS the work.
Connecting is all about adding value and flow (input, output, feedback, plasticity)
That post of mine and this post for you are part of the flow, the extension of the conversation from the gift of learning from Stephen Downes. I decided to make changes in my blogging practice and to share that with you:
Read and comment on blogs; blog a response (this is one of my responses).
For my students, we will now read others’ blogs first, blog our response of those that touch our hearts and minds, and comment back with a link to our posts.
You’ve heard about it: Grade 8 writes novels in November. You’ve heard about NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, and as an eighth grader, you’re wondering, “What will I write about? What is a novel?”
Let’s get started thinking about it: What is a Novel? This BlendSpace will start your inspiration and a strategy, Plot Diagram, to get you thinking about what a the structure of a novel would be.
Is that a novel?
A novel is your story, your world you create for readers. A world that has a time and place, characters with problems, and lots of vivid imagery so your reader can imagine the world you create.
My experience is this: I’m just writing. There’s a spark of story that ignites every time I start to add to the tale. It unfolds letter by letter word by word, sentence by sentence, dialogue by dialogue, image by image. That spark lights and spawns another spark. There’s been no real plan, only a glimpse that is fleeting to the real world and consciousness, but that explodes when my fingers cover the keys. Characters blossom. Setting stirs. Plot propels. With no plan, only a spark.
I will help you with planning– like the Plot Diagram — and many more from the #NaNoWriMo curriculum. We’ll think about setting, characters, problems, figurative language, action, suspense, and more.
But for your story, you will need to let your imagination guide you. Yes, we’ll map out some ideas, but once you start typing, your world will erupt into existence as your brain’s voice fills your mind with thoughts that zip out your pencil and zap your world, your story, onto the page.
In our Google Docs, you will share your novel with a partner for effect and feedback. How did your partner react? What suggestions did s/he make? Would those work, or did they suggest something else?
And you’ll type some more, like a writer, an author, of your world.
Let’s think and discuss as writers how this novel enticed us to read to the end, and to chat and share in between. Let’s read like a writer —
Let’s look at the story as if we were writers, as if we wrote it.
Think about it: how do novelists create their stories, the ones we want to start reading and keep reading?
Let’s start thinking…
First. let’s think:
What’s most important in the story? Why do you think so?
What message did you take away? What truth about the world? What is an idea, a truth that unifies the whole story? [theme]
If you’re having trouble, list several important subjects covered in the story.
Evaluate these and choose one that is most important to the whole story.
Write a theme statement (not a topic, subject, or phrase) that is specific enough that it shines through the whole story — it applies to every character, event, and detail of the story.
Now, how was that message “built” by the author — let’s ask some questions (we can skip around — these guide us). Let’s think, discuss, and then wonder how we can create a similar experience in our own novels. Think:
How did the author open the story? How did that opening set a tone or entice us to keep reading?
Did we learn the setting right away — how did that help us get into the story? Would another setting have worked? [Setting: time / place / social attitudes]
How were the characters introduced? Was there action? conversation? description?
Who’s talking and telling the story? first person? [main character] third person? [narrator]
Describe the personalities and traits of the main characters. How do we know that ? How did the author write to help us know these characters as believable? or were they?
Who was the protagonist? How do you know?
Who or what was the antagonist? How do you know?
What words and phrases, descriptions, dialogue, thoughts, actions, interactions help us understand the characters? [characterization]
What was the problem in the story? How was it introduced? How did it develop? [plot profile: exposition, rising action, falling action, resolution]
What parts of the plot sequence surprised you? Why? How did the author create that surprise, suspense?
What parts of the plot did you predict? What did the author do — what clues did the author provide to help you?
What parts of the story were mind movies? How did the author create those for you? [figurative language, dialogue, description]
Think of your favorite part — why is it your favorite part? How did the author write it? What words helped?
Think of the climax of the story, the part where the character made a decision and their action helped set up the end of the story. How did he author build suspense to that point?
Were there any props in the story that were clues to what might happen or that were important to the characters? Were they repeated in the story? Where? How? Why?
What was the tone throughout the story? Did it change? What is the author’s attitude about the characters? problem? message?
Back to characterization: Which characters changed in the story? How? Why? How did the author’s words, style, plot help us understand this change?
Think back on the message you considered. What is the message the author wanted us to understand?
How do the characters show that message?
Did the setting matter?
How did the plot show that message?
How did the author’s use of tone and the author’s style show that message?
Is there anything that confused you? What could the author have done to make that part less confusing?
Resolution: How did the author tie up all the issues in the story? How do we know it’s “the end,” and how does it relate to that main message or theme?
How do novelists create their stories, the ones we want to start reading and keep reading?
Awesome! The Edublogs Team now offers challenges for Connected Educator Month to help teachers and students learn to connect through blogs. Choose teacher personal/professional blogging challenge or the student blogging challenge.
This is a class blog. Students and teachers will post and comment here; and grade eight students have their own blogs (see sidebar). The student blogging challenge will guide us (see previous post) to learn about and learn to blog. Are you ready?
We’ve been reading Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper for the Global Read Aloud. The main character, Melody, can’t talk or walk because she has cerebral palsy. On page 8, Melody says, “Thoughts need words. Words need a voice.” We’ve discussed what she meant by that in class, but now I have a new question for you:
We’ve settled in, but still testing, with new laptops for grade eight.
We’ve got writers ready to write, and lots to learn.
At left is a wordle by a student two years ago who wanted to express her thanks for our school district’s emphasis on technology, at least in the language arts classroom.
With laptops ready, eighth grade students have signed up for their blogs, and have accessed them. You can see them from links in the sidebar. But: they have nothing there —- yet. Last year we used kidblogs, so these older students are ready for a blog with more options, and Edublogs provides that — options, creativity, personalization, safety.
Next we’ll introduce ourselves, as in Week 1 Introductions. Remember our own Internet Netiquette. Complete at least one activity, preferably all three. We’ll tweet out for comments4kids and find the same to comment on.
Although its past September, some great suggestions for possible posts are here: September Posts. Anytime you need an idea, try one of these. Remember our other writing prompts. And it’s always fun to go to bing.com to learn from the pictures on the search page; write about the topic– what you knew, what you learned, what you want to know from your blog readers.
Week 2 Town and Country will require us to think about how to present the information in a way the meets our policies. Be creative. Ask your teacher about Animoto or VoiceThread.
Week 4 is Global Issues. I know some of these are concerns for my students — so students, how will you respond, research, and share?
Blogging is thinking out loud; it’s organizing your ideas clearly so others learn from you. In their comments, you learn back from them.
The reason why I chose this book is because the book is very funny because Greg gets locked in at home and can’t get out. The power ends up going out and they are stuck in the house. The culprit turns out to be Manny because he thought it was every man for himself. You have to read the rest.
Our sixth grade students are mentors to the fifth grade. To prepare, the students review our expectations for digital citizenship through our lessons from NetSmartz and consider the most important things to share with the fifth grade, both for digital citizenship and for using our Google Apps for Education.
Last year, the sixth grade created these presentations as part of their journey. This year’s sixth grade may use these as a guide for their own work.