First things first; student safety is paramount. I use Kidblog for this reason. It allows me to control who sees our posts, who comments, and also how open I want our account to be. But I don’t just give students their account information…there is a lot of preparation before then:
- We talk at length about blogging, why it is important to us, why it is a privilege.
- We visit other student blogs and we discuss whether we agree with their posts, with their etiquette and we decide how we want to represent ourselves.
- We discuss what constitutes an actual blog post and what we share with the world. We discuss the difference between Edmodo and Kidblog, and there are many.
- I show them scary videos of giving out information on the internet to strangers, we discuss how the Internet is like the mall.
- We talk, reflect and then have further discussions before we even do our first mouse click. we create a paper blog to get a feel for commenting and I show my own blog to show them the power of blogging.
- And this isn’t an only at the beginning of the year conversation, it is an always conversation. We always discuss safety, we always practice it, and we remind each other whenever need be.
Then there is the ugly reality of cyber bullying, and yes we face it head on and battle it. I have never had another child bully a classmate through blogging. They revere it too much. That is not to say that all of my students love each other, they don’t, they are 10 years olds, but they do respect each other. And I think that is the most important ingredient to prevent cyber-bullying; respect. We respect each other, and the differences we may have. We respect the privilege that it is to have a blog, to have a voice to the world. We discuss how this is a big deal and how we would never want to hurt someone purposely or even shine ourselves in that light. There is no anonymity on our blog, I make sure of that, and the students would have to sign their name to any comment that they leave. While they may not always get a long we still have a sense of community that we work hard on achieving and maintaining from the very first moment we are together. I love my students as if they were my own kids and I think they feel that we are a family. That feeling takes us far.