My students are now blogging online!  It’s quite exciting.  We started by working through the blogging concept and process using paper blogs and a week later, we put those same ideas on our class blog.

But first, we needed to make sure we were safe!  In fact, I first had to have multiple meetings with my principal, the technology teacher and integration specialist – understandably so!  This is a big step when it’s the first time young students will be putting themselves out there.  But I made a few assurances that using would be safe.   First, I designed this go around so that all the students’ posts would only go live after I approved them.  I also made certain that would be the case for all the comments.  In addition, I created our classes blog so that the posts would only be viewable by our classmates when they are logged on.  In other words, it’s a closed blog.  No one can see our posts, just us.

For nearly all the parents, this was a new experience for them – allowing their children to write online material.  I can imagine this is a bit scary especially with all the cautionary press about online chatting and Facebook use.  My hope is that if students begin to learn how to act online, the lessons will carry with them into other uses.

I did have one student whose parents did not want him online.  Of course, I had no problem with this.  He is, however, still going to be required to do the writing assignments either by hand or on the computer.  He will continue the paper blog model where he will post his articles on the wall and students will post comments for him using sticky notes.  I am hoping, however, that the boy and his family get the chance to log on and see what the class is doing.

I know that our students will be required to blog in some form at some point in their schooling.  (At least that is my hope!)  Giving them the opportunity to do this under our careful watch is important.  It’s another skill they must have under their belt for the future.   And while I could never predict if blogging will remain how it is now over the next 10 years, I do know that these students will be working in online venues sooner than later.

So here’s my soap box – Let’s get kids online with us guiding them.  That is the best way to be sure they are learning in a safe environment.

In future years, it is my hope that we will be able to let our blog go into public view so that other people outside our classroom can view, read and comment on our class’s blog, in particular, other students from across the country and around the world!  The potential for students’ voices to be heard and valued is immense.  But we must work in baby steps first.

Since my last post, we’ve been online and some students have taken off with this new opportunity!  I will let you know more about that in my next post!