For the next two months, I’ll be working with 4th graders to get them started with blogging. This initiative came from my colleague, a 4th grade homeroom teacher, who will be requiring her students to post “reading responses.” It should be interesting to see how quickly students will wrap their heads around it. I gave a brief introductory lesson on what blogs are, how they will be using blogs in class, and how it can benefit them in the future. The initial response was positive. I could sense the excitement in the room as I said things like “You’ll begin by blogging your Language Arts Reading Responses, and you will eventually find your own voice and can blog about whatever you want…” and “…you can even create links to videos on Youtube, other websites, and even your friends’ blogs!”
Seeing that the majority of these 4th graders were born in the year 2000, and 90% of them already have email accounts, technology comes naturally to them. I think the challenge is guiding children to use the technology productively and safely.
Creating safe passwords, proper netiquette, and understanding the school’s AUP are the things that need to be established well before anything blogging happens. Parents need to be in the loop with comprehensive information. Students must demonstrate understanding. As a start, their first blog post will revolve around “blogging safety.” I will have students choose to answer something like:
- What does bullying look like in the blogosphere?
- How will you create and maintain a respectful online reputation?
My goal is to have students engage in conversations through their blogs. I hope they will have the type of conversations that they like to have and not ones that they feel forced to have. As Jeff Utecht puts it, “…to sustain blogging in the classroom you have to allow this conversation to take place. You have to give students both time to read and write.”
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