Having used a few different LMS packages over the last few years, I thought it was time to bring back allowing students to academically comment on material. I chose to do this with my 5th grade science class, which has been using the NGSS all year long. I have been piloting a blended and flipped curriculum with them since the start of September. Since viewing lessons I have created for them in Blendspace is business as usual, I planned a period for them to dig deeper into the lesson itself, leaving detailed comments for each informational slide. The results, have been great. Students had extremely targeted responses to each slide, which were all organized by subtopic. As the commenting continued, we decided to see how many comments both 5th grade classes could collect altogether. Prior to trying this out, students would review for a unit test – creating review documents on Google Classroom. As a change of pace, this worked extremely well. In the past, students were normally conditioned to leave simple feedback, sporadically referencing class material.
In 45 minutes of class, students had amassed 176 comments. On their own, they found the “help requests” button – signaling slides that they wanted to review. At the end of the class, I had decided to frame their commenting as a way to earn extra credit on the unit test that would follow the next day. If you would like to try this, I would suggest creating a Blendspace account. The best way to start using this for students, is to have them review for a test. It sets the purpose and focus for targeting their interactions initially with the program. Expand on this by pairing it with your own curated learning material.