“Write a Comment” Challenge

After reading Steve Moore’s posting, “Is Twitter Just Window Dressing?, I got to thinking about how we actually build a community of educators who grow and learn together. Most of us are pretty solid Level One Collaborators. We post interesting inks, retweet good ones, and share our ideas in 140 characters. When hundreds of us are on #edchat, there is an incredible energy and lots of insights that fly across the screen. I always learn a tremendous amount in each hour, but it is a bit like shouting out my ideas and seeing if anyone grabs one in the wave of other ideas. We are all rolling around in the surf of #edchat. i take what I want and use it for myself. That is Level One learning. I am taking and giving, but it is about me, my teaching, my growth. The challenge is to move onto Level Two.

On Level Two, we are actually building something that is not simply for ourselves. We are working together to learn. If we are going to teach our students how to be active members of the internet world and to collaborate with others across the classroom, the city and the world, we need to be better at it ourselves. The first step for Level Two Collaboration is to get to know people on a deeper level. I learned at least as much from Tom Whitby’s first blog post, about him and how he thinks, as I have in months of following him on Twitter. The person began to come alive. So that is my challenge to us all: To be Level Two Collaborators, come alive for our PLN. Write a blog and share your experiences. Then visit the blogs of people you follow. Many of us do this already, but now we must leave comments. Let the writer know what you think about their ideas and experiences. Share your wisdom with them.  Make it less about what you can take away from it and more about building a relationship. It is when we begin to actively interact with each other that we will develop the kind of trust relationships that lead behind deep collaboration. If we can’t do it ourselves, we can never teach our students to do it. We are asking them to put their ideas out for the world to see. We need to practice doing that ourselves.

I have created a page to keep track of the blogs that I comment on. I will update it each time I leave a comment. Come and join the conversation. Let’s get to know one another!

86 responses to ““Write a Comment” Challenge

  1. Thank you. My biggest frustration with the PLN is that I feel I have genuine interaction with only a few (maybe 10) members. I want more than just links, information and opinions. I want to learn in a genuine community where I feel I really know others and am really known by others.

  2. It’s funny, I read so many blogs and I do try to leave comments. Sometimes it is a comfortability level. Do I feel I have something that will add to the conversation? Is my input going to be valid? Sometimes I take the shortcut and just send a tweet that I enjoyed the blog. You are right though, comments on blogs do help to build relationships. You have inspired me to leave more comments. Thanks for the nudge.

    • Ann,
      That comfort level is exactly what I was thinking about. I think we have to learn to be comfortable, by making mistakes and playing around, if we are going to be able to show our students how to do it. If we live through the discomfort of being so public, we may learn some tools for them. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Leaving comments is something I’m trying to make a focused effort on improving. One barrier for me is lack of time when I’ve got a large number of unread items in my reader (128 at the moment). I’m hoping that by reorganizing my reader to separate out newsy ones from educator ones I can do a better job at commenting.

    • Ann, That is part of why I decided to keep track of where I comment, so I will have a record of my conversations. I have been just leaving them and moving on. I want to deepen those relationships by paying more attention to some of them. We shall see. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Yoon Soo Lim/@doremigirl

    You’re really going to push me start a blog, aren’t you? Ha, ha.

    I’m so glad we’re in PLN together. Your TweetDeck incident this morning and to witness the restoring process was awesome. I love it that we can ask for help and learn from others in the process.
    I have been reading blogs and started to comment more. Like how I’ve shared my thoughts with Steve, reading blogs and commenting is the next step in building community. Listening and responding. And thinking. Thanks for your insight and encouragement to get off my butt and start writing. I guess I’m just too scared to blog…
    By the way, we should get our MS kids to collaborate…! 🙂

    • Yoon, I think we all are gently nudging each other in this PLN. I had never had an experience like yesterday – sending out a call for help and having so many people respond, people beyond my followers. It was pretty amazing. Can’t wait to read what you have to say!

  5. I am also trying to make an effort to comment on people’s blog, as I firmly believe in the power of sharing ideas. I have grown professionally from my blog and the comments people have left on it.

    However, I can see why it has been difficult for many of us to get feedback on blogs. For one, if it is a hit or miss to get feedback on Twitter, it is 10 times more difficult to get people to go to your blog. One day, admin and schools will allow dedicated time to be on Twitter and collaborate on each other’s blog entries.

    • I agree, Howard. Part of why I wrote the Challenge is that I don’t think we know what is the best way to collaborate and we need to experiment as see what works. I will probably vary a lot, but we need to make the effort to move beyond simply being observers. Thanks for the comment.

  6. What a great idea to track on your blog where/when you’ve commented on others’! I like how you make the creation of new knowledge together with a community or partner is called “level two.” I think this is exactly the type of action we want our students to learn to do on their own.

    Thanks for this post!

    • Steve, I firmly believe that we can’t teach it until we have lived it, so it is time for us to figure out the best ways to collaborate. Thanks for the comment.

  7. Great post and observations Hadley.

    Having started my own Web 2.0 journey about 5 years ago with my first blog, and just recently jumping into Twitter, your observations are spot on. You are thinking maturely about a very immature media–historically speaking.

    Some day I may develop “The Five Phases of Social Media Participation” or something, in which, at one end, a participant’s motivation and strategy involves seeing and being seen. Twitter supports this beautifully. The more followers the better. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, is the user who has narrowed both his/her niche/audience/followers/subscribers/visitors as well as those he/she follows/subscribes to/visits. But within that spectrum is a strong and rich culture of support, empathy, sharing, relationships and community.

    There is certainly value in both approaches–no right way of doing things. And obviously no clear lines between phases. It’s as if we have this ocean of information and some choose to scan and skim the hundreds thousands of square miles of surface area for knowledge/wisdom/whatever is needed, while others choose to identify a pretty narrow amount of surface area and dive deep.

    What’s appropriate ultimately boils down to what you, as an individual or professional, need at a certain point in time or stage of personal (or professional) development. The trap for us all is to begin to attach a judgment to a certain phase or level, because it’s easy to begin to think that deeper is “better.”

    But, with only so many hours in a day, and each with different aspirations, goals, and life circumstances (both professional and personal), I think it’s also easy to realize that it is just as totally cool to hang ten on a surf board as it is to strap on the scuba gear (or hop in the submarine).

    • Your continuum is very similar to what I was thinking. I don’t think that we all have to live in the “ocean of information” in the same way, but we do need to benefit from the ways that we are all doing it. Rather than being isolated, learning only for ourselves, we need to develop the strategies to share what we learn and enrich each other’s search and learning. I will be interested to see how it all evolves.

  8. Commenting to a post really inspires a blogger to share and write more. I really want to assist and network with others the information that has worked. In return I hope I get some new information back along with a growing movement of needed educational transformation that we collectively make happen. I truely enjoy and am inspired by every comment. Another factor which you have shown in your own blog is to refer to another blogger’s post as part of your post. I appreciated that when you referred to my New Year’s Headlines. Last, one of my favorite books is James Surowiecki’s “Wisdom of the Crowds”. I feel both twitter and the networking of our blogs creates a beeter learning environment for our students then what any one of us could do alone. Keep up your great sense of reflection in your posts.
    twitter: http:twitter.com/mjgormans
    blog: http:www.21centuryedtech.wordpress.com

    • We have to figure out how to most effectively work together in this new world of learning and teaching or we will each be re-inventing the wheel. I don’t know how we will do it, but I truly believe that if we talk and work together, we will make progress. We will fall down together and pick ourselves up together.

      Thanks for the encouragement to continue reflecting. I am loving having a place where I am making myself do it. They are all thoughts that bounce around in my head, but having to write them out has helped me name and own more of what I am thinking and what I want for my students.

  9. I would hope that any interaction I have, whether on Twitter, Facebook, my blog or your blog is substantial and meaningful. The challenge is more than Twittering or updating a blog or Facebook – the challenge is reflecting. Being critically reflective should be our goal. We read, we reflect, we integrate, we reflect.

    Thanks for the reminder to be active and participatory in this network.

    David
    @dpeter on Twitter

  10. Hadley,

    I have only recently started a professional blog myself (three entries!), although I am a voracious blog reader. I really like your idea of keeping a page for tracking blogs you have commented on to maintain a conversation. I am “stealing” your idea, so I thought it was only right that yours is the first comment I track.

    Elaine
    @ElaineReads on Twitter

    • Thanks for letting me know. You are more than welcome to “steal” any idea. Hope it helps!

      It has been an interesting week for me. I really like having the record for myself, even if no one else looks at that page. It is easy to get scattered with all of the information that is flying by. I will make sure to visit your blog. Good luck and thanks for the comment.

  11. Pingback: The Edge of Education Carnival. Issue 4 | We Teach We Learn

  12. This is great! And exactly what I hope to accomplish with The One Comment Project Ning and Twitter chat. I share your passion for #edchat and love the rapid dialogue, but at times feel as though I am shouting ideas rather than absorbing, processing and responding. I really want The One Comment Project to become Level 2 collaboration. I hope that the twitter dialogue will carry over into blog comments and create, if you will, a level two conversation. Also, I feel that a lot of my PLN write amazing blogs and it is hard to cover all of their brilliant words. This is a way to spotlight two a week (maybe more in the future) and really get the ball rolling on processing and responding over an engaging subject.

    • I love the idea of spotlighting two blogs and having a conversation around them. There are so many great people writing wonderful posts, but the challenge is to create the Level 2, where we help each other build and create even more. I love the support that we can give each other on twitter, but I know that there is even more possible. I am looking forward to it. Thanks for your work!

  13. Well, I couldn’t quite read this and NOT respond, now could I? 🙂 Your Level Two idea is fantastic. While I learn much from each edchat session I am able to attend, it’s very difficult to make deeper connections. I liken it to the experience of driving down a highway and reading many education related bumper stickers – great thoughts but then they zoom by. Challenging ourselves to take the time to respond and converse will build those connections and allow us to effectively work together. Thanks!

    • And then it becomes a matter of time. Where can we find enough to thoughtfully engage with each other? It shall be an interesting challenge. Thanks for the comment. Looking forward to Level 2.

  14. Hadley,

    You are so right about Level 2 relationships. At Educon, it was the people whose blogs I have read and commented on that I was so excited to meet. I felt that I knew them better. We had built a relationship by engaging each other around ideas and experiences in more than 140 characters.

    Great post!

  15. I like how you differentiated the learning levels of using social media. I love my PLN and I learn so much more in one hour of #edchat than I do in 3 hours of some of my grad classes. But you’re right in saying that sometimes it feels like talking into the wind, and hoping someone hears it.

    I think that for me personally leaving comments is intimidating. And I’m slowly working in that- just getting over fear and self-consciousness, and expressing and sharing with others via blogging and commenting. Thanks for the nudge, as someone else said!

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