Holiday Gift Wish (or What Every Kid Wants!) by Bob Sprankle

Forgive me for pulling you in with that title. Hopefully it worked (after all: 'tis the season), but I'm not entirely exploiting your last-minute holiday dilemmas of finding the perfect gift for some child in your life. Seriously, I think I may have found out "What Every Kid Wants!"

Recently, I wrote about the experience of my colleague, Charlene Kohn's, student blog (see: "Crazy Good"). I wrote about how excited the students were to get comments for their work from around the world and how engaging it is for students to publish to a real audience.

Since that post, I've been using Charlene's student blog with my 3rd and 4th grade students in order to teach one of the NETS standards in our curriculum: "Communication and Collaboration." Specifically, students are identifying "what makes a good comment" and how do we use telecommunications to collaborate and communicate with other audiences.

As I mentioned in the recent post, the site Comments4Kids Wiki is a great place to find teachers seeking comments for their students work, so there are plenty of opportunities for our students to perfect their comment writing skills. There's also the Comments4Kids Blog which gives you and your students plenty of help to get started on identifying "what makes a good comment." You can sign up there as a participant and even add the Comments4Kids badge to your own site:

On one of he participant's sites, Mr. Ferrel, I found the following graphic to help students know "what makes a good comment":

You may want to show your students this after they've generated their own ideas for "what makes a good comment."

So... here's how I discovered "What Every Kid Wants!"

I was with a 3rd class and I told them how the students were getting comments and that the class had already received over 400 comments. It was at this point that one of my students blurted out, "I'm jealous!"

I immediately stopped everything and asked her to explain why she was jealous.

"Because my sister's in that class!" she replied.

"But what makes you feel jealous?" I persisted.

Without missing a beat, she said, "I want 400 comments!"

The other students jumped right in: they all wanted 400 comments as well.

Is it a surprise? Students are working with me to learn how to give great comments; they'd also like to be on the receiving end as well. They will get that opportunity with me later in the year, but they want it now with the work they're doing in their classrooms (remember: I only see them once every 6 days in the computer lab). At present, their homeroom teacher is not having them blog or publish their work.

Why do they want these comments? I will take the list that they came up with for "what makes a good comment" and put it in reverse. In other words, this is what they came up to give to other students; I will express it in a list of what I expect they would also like to receive by substituting the word "them" with "me."

So... What Every Kid Wants:

  • Make me feel good for more than a millisecond.
  • Tell me WHY it's good.
  • Tell me how you feel about my work.
  • Don't be mean.
  • Give me details about my work.
  • Tell me what you liked about my work.
  • Give me a compliment.
  • Put time into your comment to me.
  • Tell me good things about what I did.
  • Start a conversation with me.
  • Ask me questions.
  • Ask me about how I did the work.
  • Make a personal connection with my work.
  • Let me know what you've learned from my work.
  • Be nice to me.
  • Be friendly to me.
  • Be caring to me.
  • Be respectful to me.
  • Tell me how you appreciate my work.
  • Tell me that you'd like to know more from me about my work.
  • Be encouraging to me.
  • Be supportive to me.
  • Be positive!
  • Thank me.

Comments4Kids.400Comments4Kids. Comments-galore4kids.

The comments are the gifts... we as teachers need to supply the wrapping paper: publish their work.