Typically when students go away I send a travel journal with a few activities for them to do while they are away that they get to keep after as a vacation keepsake. This time I decided to give them the option of a paper travel journal or doing it on their kidblog. I gave them a quick how-to and they were off. You can check out their awesome travel blog posts here. Also take a look at the conversations that were generated in the comments section. Very cool.
When I introduce student blogs there are some safety and ethics conversations that need to happen first. We start with a conversation about what exactly a blog is, what all the different parts are about and what it means to be a responsible digital citizen. Much of this vocabulary is new, like posts, gadgets, commenting, global audience and digital citizenship. The children need to make the connection between what they say to someone in person and what they say to or about someone online as being the same thing. They need to understand that just because they are posting to their blog on their own doesn't mean that what they post does not affect other people. And they need to understand that unlike when they write in their notebook which stays on the shelf, when they post to their blog it is for a global audience. All of this comes with great responsibility that they need to understand and take seriously.
Next we tackle blog design. I want them to take time to think about catchy, thoughtful titles, writing posts that have purpose and make sense and the fun things like gadgets and backgrounds. I have found that they take more time with this and can focus on it better if we do it on paper first. They create a paper blog, doing the fun design parts first, and then will write and edit their first blog post on paper. We discuss the elements and process expected for writing a quality blog post. Once that is complete we will discuss and create criteria for quality commenting and use sticky notes to leave comments on each others paper blogs.
It may sound like a drawn out process but I feel very strongly about the teaching that needs to take place around digital citizenship and using social media responsibly. In this day and age, we need to take online safety, responsibility and respect as seriously as we do in our classrooms and hallways.
I have adapted some of these ideas from @pernilleripp.