Recently, while perusing Reddit (the best place to waste time online), I stumbled across a quote where someone said something to the effect of YouTube being the place where logic, clarity, and civility go to die. While I’m not sure how 100% official that is, I think, to at least some extent, there is some truth to it. Online discourse is emotional, petty, illogical, and often times very hate-filled, and while my main duty, as an English teacher, is to instruct students on reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, as an Educational Technologist, I have a responsibility to teach students how to disagree and argue effectively, fairly, and lovingly.
Recently, I posted my TOAST blog rubric, which is how I assess student writing success in blogposts. However, I don’t always stop there. Often times, after assigning a blogpost, I’ll ask students to visit each others articles and comment on what they saw. It’s important to me that they learn to communicate in a distinguished fashion, so I also developed a follow-up mnemonic to TOAST to help them remember how to comment.
And honestly, what makes TOAST better than a nice scoop of JAM?
I instruct students that, when commenting on each others’ blog posts, they MUST use do at least one of the following:
- Join the conversation by adding new information, opinions, or perspectives.
- Ask a question related to the post.
- Make a specific compliment about the post.
No “THIS STINKS” or “I LIKE IT” or superficial statements—what goes in must contribute to the article and support it.
Just like with my post about TOAST (#rhyme), feel free to take this and incorporate it into your classroom—just let me know how you use it so I can better serve my students!