Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bully Free Blogging

Do your kids blog? Mine do. We love Kidblog at our school. I was introduced to it on Twitter. (Shocking, I'm sure.)

Well, Kidblog is free and easy to use, but I'm not here to tell you about Kidblog. I want to talk a little about Bully Free Blogging.

I like to use paper blogging with my students before we start actually blogging. I learned about it from Notes from McTeach, and you can click HERE to read her lesson. It's great, and when I've used it, my blogging experiences have been a bajillion times better.

One of the most powerful steps in McTeach's lesson plan is to ask this question: "Why might some people feel unsafe blogging?" The answer, obviously, is that some people might be mean.

It's true. I've seen it. A student will comment on another person's blog post, "That is stupid." How hurtful to the blogger! And it sends a horrible message - your ideas aren't worth sharing. That makes me so sad! I want all my students to feel as though their thoughts and their ideas have value. And that starts with teaching respect in the classroom - and how to show respect online.

I think a lot of this stems from the fact that students don't really know HOW to comment. I also get a lot of comments that say "LOL" and "That is cool." [cringing on the inside here]

I usually find an article on to share with the students. We read it (they're always short) and then we look at the comments. Which comments make sense? Which ones don't? We talk about what makes a good comment, and what kinds of things make for bad or mean comments.

Then I teach my children this mantra:
I tell the kids that some of the best comments are questions and connections. It helps that they (sort of) rhyme. I will also post this sign in my classroom this year.

After we talk about this, we practice making comments that ask questions or make connections.

There is so much ugliness on the Internet (all you have to do is scroll to the comment section on any kind of public forum - news and celebrity sites especially). I feel that, as a teacher in the 21st century, it's part of our jobs to teach students how to be civil and speak intelligently on the Internet.

Share your thoughts in the comments below! (Remember the rules, hehe!)

Download the poster FREE here.