Sunday, April 30, 2017

Develop Effective Commenting Skills Using Google Docs via @MsCofino

save imageInnovative educator Kim Cofino used Facebook Live to share ideas about how students could have respectful and meaningful conversations online. She explained a strategy she used to help students develop these skills within the safe and private walls of the classroom using Google Docs. This activity can help students become comfortable with effective commenting.

It goes like this.


  1. Passage in G-Docs: Put a passage from a book or article into Google docs. Set it to view only and have students read it.
  2. Comment privately: Ask students to “make a copy” of the Google doc for their own drive and comment on it privately, in a safe space.
  3. Reflect on private comments: Have students discuss their comments. What types of comments did they make? She works with students to help differentiate between critical comments and compliments. It is important for students to be able to determine the difference. She suggests making a T-Chart with each type of comment on one side or the other. You may want to bring in a post you know of to dive deeper into this and start making comment / compliment T-charts.  YouTube might be a good source.
  4. Comment sandwich: Next Cofino suggests giving students the structure of a comment sandwich to think about. This sandwiches a constructive comment between an introductory and closing compliment.  Read her post that elaborates on this technique here. Read all the way to the end where you will find you can download a lesson plan for implementing this technique.
  5. Comment publicly: With a stronger handle on commenting, students are now ready to go back to the original shared passage, but now it can be open for comments. Invite students to share their comments there.
  6. Reply to comments: Next have students reply to comments other students have written. This is an important part of commenting, that is often overlooked.
  7. Reflect on the process: What makes a good comment? A bad one? Consider working with students to come up with a rubric they can refer to when commenting.


This safe practice can lend itself well to interactions in social spaces beyond the walls of the classroom. You can start simple with the #comments4kids hashtag on Twitter. Or you can find or create a teacher blog and have students comment there. When you do, you may want to head over to check out this time-tested resource from Mrs. Yollis’ Third Grade Class. Some students may want their own blogs. If they do, commenting on blogs of peers is another useful way for students to develop their commenting muscles.