Home > Group D Workspace > Learning Activity 7-C-2

Elementary Language Arts Blog

Scenario A:
Your fourth grade class has been blogging for about two months now. They have shared several writing projects on their class blogs, including revisions of some short stories with illustrations. To protect your students’ identities, all students use only their first name and first letter of their last names (e.g., Kayla F., Joseph R.)
Your students have commented on each others blogs, and a few parents and other teachers have added comments as well. Your students have become accustomed to this feedback from your internal audience.
Today, one of your students, Aaron, asked you about a comment on his blog. Someone complimented him on his story but Aaron doesn’t recognize the name. You review the comment and the link provided, and it appears to be someone from Canada doing educational research. Aaron asks what he should do next.

Plan of Action

Our action plan in response to Scenario A is described below.
The two steps describes how educators should instruct their students to react when a situation arises.

1. Planning a Classroom Blog

The first step in avoiding any potential problems or safety issues is to prepare before implementing a class blog. Educators should research sources for safely implimenting blogging in their classroom. Some sites for teachers to read include Safety Tips to Blogging in Educationand Dangers of Student BloggingEducators should research which blog site provider best fits their needs for the classroom project as well as which has the security features needed to protect their students. A blog used in a classroom should allow for the teacher to be the "administrator" or the blog so they can set the controls. An important security feature for a classroom blog should include privacy settings where viewing and commenting can only be done by those who are specifically invited to do so by the blog administrator. There should be the ability for all posts and comments to be sent to the blog administrator (teacher) for approval before they are posted. Letters should be sent home to include and encourage parents in the blogging project. Educators should discuss safety tips to students and teach them Internet Safety. The teacher should research informational sites geared towards students which offers them tips for blogging safety. One such site that offers tips for students is safe blogging. Pennsylvania's Attorney General Tom Corbett has created exciting and improved educational programs to help schools, parents and communities empower children with knowledge to keep them safe online. On his website, educators can use Internet Safety and Netiquette Tips and other tools to help with Internet Safety curriculum prior to the implementation of the Read/Write Web in education. National resources from the U.S. Department of Justice are also available; for example, A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety addresses signs parents can look for that will help them identify whether their child may be at risk on-line. Teachers should secure a coopy of this publication to send home to parents along with the permission letter for their review. Lastly, before any blogging project is begun, the teacher should teach a complete lesson on blogging safety.

safe blogging

2. Implementing a Classroom Blog

Once the blog security preferences are set, permission letters are sent home to parents and students have participated in a lesson about blogging safely, students can be invited to join the blog. Educators should first model to students how to use a blog by showing students how to post entries, post comments, and respond to other bloggers. Ideally, the teacher should have the control over the blog to be able to approve all posts and comments before they are viewable to the students and/or the parents. If those types of controls are not available, students should be instructed to notify the teacher before they publish their post or when they receive comments. Then the teacher can review the post or comment and even make a reply to the comment. This way, the teacher is not only protecting his/her students, he/she is also modeling a responsible reply back to an anonymous blogger. However, it should be made very clear to the students that if they receive any kind of abusive or inappropriate comments, they are to immediately notify the teacher and not share the comment with other students. Blogs are meant to expand the learning environment in education and to provide endless opportunities for students to learn global communication. With close monitoring and teacher participation, students will be safe using educational blogs in the classroom.

Response to "Aaron" in Scenario A:
I would explain to Aaron how the comment is a contribution to information found on the Internet, which is accessible to anyone from anywhere in the world. I would remind him that we learned through our safetly lesson that when you publish something on the internet that it becomes public for others to view, even people in other countries like Canada in this particular case. I would praise him for floowing the proper procedure of notifying me, the teacher, in this situation. I would contact this anonymous blogger and thank them for interest in our class blog and explain that the blog entries are the works of children and therefore ask that they share additional comments and ideas with me, and I will then relay them to the class. I would also share the experience of receiving the outside comment with the other students so they can see first hand that other people can and do read their posts. It would be a great example to reinforce the lesson that their information is not private. While it is our duty to protect our students, they should not be sheltered with fear when blog comments come from unknown users. They should be taught to be cautious and follow a series of steps that include telling an adult or the teacher in this case. With proper etiquette to blogging, students can learn how to be responsible and safe contributors to the global Internet community.