This is a teachable moment. It’s definitely not a moment to shut down blogs! It was a moment where I took immediate action. I deleted it. I happened to see it on the day it was posted so chances are I got there before others did. That’s not always the case. And that’s OK. Really, it is. Think about it. Can you protect your students from every inappropriate remark that might be said to them? No! But you can teach them that an inappropriate remark is not a reflection on their work buta reflection on some other person. We have an easy solution. We can just delete it and move on. We have other things to focus on, things that are more important and more worth our time. We educators are in a unique position of being able to give them excellent guidance. Let’s do that instead of worrying that an inappropriate comment is the end of the world. It’s not. It’s just a sad reflection of our times.Let’s work to change it. Sometimes when I see all the stuff that is posted on blogs by teenagers I find myself wishing that someone had given them some guidance. Lots of them are just not thinking. We need to build these types of things into our discussions in our classrooms. I like to think that good teaching about responsible weblog use would help. No, we can’t reach all but we won’t reach any if we keep burying our heads in the sand and keep worrying about what MIGHT happen.Weblogs give us a place to really responsible Internet use. We’re not going to have 100% success but that should not stop us from trying. We educators need to move on. Moving on, to me, is working together with my students to show the possibilities, the potential that weblogs can provide in our classrooms. It ties right in with what Will said today in his excellent post, Writing=Success, Blogs=Writing
Here’s an excerpt:
Blogs are getting a bad name in educational circles because those who disparage them think sites like Myspaces are representative of the technology and aren’t taking the time to understand their potential. We need to make the case more clearly that
a) much of what is happening in these online writing spaces is clearly not best practice, but that
b) best practices and real learning can occur when employed by teachers and students who have embraced blogging (v) and, finally, that we can
c) keep our kids safe by practicing common sense, modeling appropriate use, and making sure our students understand the rules of the road.
I’m finding that my elementary kids rise to the occasion. I think middle and high do too but we need to be right there laying the ground rules, what ifs, why nots, and use these tools to get them thinking and learning. They like having a voice. They like that someone cares about what they are writing.Â Teachers can get students in on the process of setting the ground rules. Give them a voice and give them some ownership. They will amaze us.The last time an inappropriate comment happened the student brought it to the attention of the Instructional Technology Specialist. Now that occurred because we had previously talked to the students about the possibility of receiving inappropriate comments. Together with thestudents we made a plan of action for how we would handle it.
Basically we decided:
- We would not respond to the irresponsible commenters. We would ignore them.
- The student would report any inappropriate comments to the teacher.
- The teachers would delete inappropriate comments,Â if they found them first but would discuss the matter with the owner of the blog and with the group, if appropriate.
- We agreed that it was unfortunate that theÂ commenter had not used common sense and we would try to set goodexamples on our blogs.
I had also talked with the students about their responsibilities as student webloggers. They like blogging and want to see it continue. It’s giving them ownership on how all this evolves. We need their input. They like that they can be a part of showing that students care and can be very responsible. We have to believe in our students. Have high expectations.Now back to my deleting the inappropriate comment. I did make a copy of the copy and plan to discuss it in class tomorrow with the students.
Teachable moments…. Grab them and then move on…..
Oh yes, one more thing. I’ve been blogging with students for three years now and in that time I have only had 3 inappropriate comments – two at the elementary level and one at the university level. Think about that.