Part of becoming a strong 21st Century digital learner is mastering the art of writing and sharing comments online.
If you read comments at the end of articles or blog postings — even at some of the respected newspapers and magazines — you have surely discovered more than a few inappropriate and sometimes distasteful remarks. Sometimes people leave these comments anonymously— individuals who do not understand why websites invite visitors to share thoughts and ideas. Sadly, many unfiltered remarks are permanently attached to websites — personal indiscretions (digital footprints) waiting for the whole world to discover. Even leaving an anonymous comment is not particularly secure, though many people — kids and adults — think they are off the hook and hiding when they leave comments without a name attached.
Helping your child avoid public website blunders, not to mention future humiliation, is one reason to discuss commenting etiquette on a regular basis. Children don’t know or they forget that all comments leave digital footprint trails, little paths of information that last much longer than a child’s pre-adolescent and even teenage years.
Confusion arises because many children first encounter commenting opportunities in places where adult supervision is scarce. As a result, an impulsive idea can beat out good common sense even when a child knows better. Bottom line — response and commenting areas are not places to leave nasty, sarcastic, rude, or hateful conversation.
Recently I led a workshop at my school about blogging. One question I am always asked when I talk about the wonders of blogging, my blogs, and the huge body of writing I am creating is, “What got me started?”
In October 2009I began work on AsOurParentsAge.net, with lots of encouragement from my husband. His mother, Betty, was near the end of her life. Essentially, helping to care for her filled up our non-work times and had for over two years. When we were not at our jobs, we were assisting Mother in some way. I started writing, initially, about topics that we wished we, as adult children, had known more about before we became caregivers to an elderly parent.
About a year later I began writing for MediaTechParenting.net, a blog that reflects my professional interests and work.
One blog relates to my vocation, the other to an avocation. Bottom line? Nearly 1000 posts later — a few of them posted on more obscure blogs — I still seem to have lots to say as I use this 21st Century learning and communication tool.
I have the honor of working with a small group of amazing third-grade teachers — my colleagues — and last summer they decided to begin blogging with their students. This past fall each of the teachers set up a classroom blog at KidBlog. This student-oriented blogging site is designed to offer maximum privacy to young writers, but it also offers the opportunity for more access — and more readers — if desired. Interestingly, while the three classroom blogs are all similar, each has slight variations that reflect the personalities of the kids and the ideas of the teacher.
After orienting their students to the idea of blogging — discussing appropriate tone, privacy, and respect — the teachers let the children write. Third graders have learned to read one another’s work and make comments and suggestions. Sometimes they share complete stories, and at other times they write more spontaneously.