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Student Blogging Guidelines

2009 September 6

Cross-posted on the Tech Learning Advisors Blog

Only one month into the new school year and almost every middle school student has their own blog hosted at ISB (plus all of our grade 5s, and quite a few high school students)!

Thanks to our fantastic middle school Humanities and Modern Language teachers, who spent their class time helping students create their own blog, we are off and running in record time! In fact, the process was so easy that almost all of our students had their blogs set up before we formalized our student blogging guidelines. So last week, I met with the Humanities department (and other interested teachers) to determine a set of basic guidelines for our students.

To get us started, we took a look at the blogging guidelines our elementary students developed last school year during their first experiences blogging. Interestingly, the guidelines our grade 4 students created last year were just as applicable to middle (and high) school as they were for elementary. We ended up using almost all of the guidelines from last year, with just a few minor re-phrasing issues and consolidation.

Given that the elementary students created these guidelines after a series of thoughtful lessons and meaningful class discussions, we see these them as prompts for deeper dialogue across classes, not simply a list of rules to follow. In order to help students make the best decisions, we’ve also followed each guideline with a question (also developed by our elementary students last year) they can ask themselves before they hit publish.

Here’s what we came up with:

Student Blogging Guidelines

As a student blogger at ISB, you are expected to follow these blogging guidelines below. Use the questions in italics to help you decide what is appropriate to post on your blog.

1. Only post things that you would want everyone (in school, at home, in other countries) to know.
Ask yourself: Is this something I want everyone to see?

2. Do not share personal information.
Ask yourself: Could someone find me (in real life) based on this information?

3. Think before you post.
Ask yourself: What could be the consequences of this post?

4. Know who you’re communicating with.
Ask yourself: Who is going to look at this, and how are they going to interpret my words?

5. Consider your audience and that you’re representing ISB.
Ask yourself: Do I have a good reason/purpose to do this?

6. Know how to give constructive feedback.
Ask yourself: What will I cause by writing this post?

7. Treat other people the way you want to be treated.
Ask yourself: Would I want someone to say this to me?

8. Use appropriate language and proper grammar and spelling.
Ask yourself: Would I want this post to be graded for proper grammar and spelling?

9. Only post information that you can verify is true (no gossiping).
Ask yourself: Is this inappropriate, immature or bullying?

10. Anytime you use media from another source, be sure to properly cite the creator of the original work.
Ask yourself: Who is the original creator of this work?

Commenting Guidelines

As a blogger, you will be commenting on other people’s work regularly. Good comments:

  • are constructive, but not hurtful;
  • consider the author and the purpose of the post;
  • are always related to the content of the post;
  • include personal connections to what the author wrote;
  • answer a question, or add meaningful information to the content topic;
  • follow the writing process. Comments are a published piece of writing.

Final Thoughts

I’m so impressed with the depth of thought shown by our elementary students! Being able to start this conversation with our middle school teachers using resources developed by 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students, clearly demonstrates that even our younger students really do understand both the power and the responsibilities of communicating to a global audience.

It’s also great to see that our ISB21 team vision of developing enduring understandings that are not grade-level specific, but rather provide a through-line for all divisions, has helped us focus on the bigger understandings and mindsets that students really will need to carry with them from year to year.

When discussing blogging safety and responsibility with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders last year, we did it in such a way that what they came up with were skills and essential questions that would help digital students no matter what grade level they’re in.

Once again, I’m reassured that elementary school is the place to begin this kind of dialogue so that we can provide a solid foundation for 21st century learning that students can continue to build upon year after year.

These guidelines have now been adopted by our elementary and high schools as well, so that we have a common expectation for all students at ISB, no matter what the age or grade level.

It will certainly be interesting to see what develops at all grade levels now that all of our students have their own blog hosted at ISB. We’re hoping that these blogs become their digital portfolio for their entire time with us. Being able to track their growth and learning over the years will be such a powerful tool for the students, teachers and parents.

Does your school have common guidelines for student blogging? What do they include? Are we missing anything here?

31 Responses leave one →
  1. September 6, 2009

    The reflective questions for each guideline are great!

  2. Candace Townsley permalink
    September 6, 2009

    This is so wonderful! I’m going to be using blogs (and a bunch of other Web 2.0 technologies that I’ve learned about from my PLN on Twitter) for the first time in my classroom-and this is quite helpful! I appreciate you as part of my PLN! Thanks for taking the time to write this out!
    Have a wonderful day!
    Candace (@giftedteechur)

  3. dierdrejaine permalink
    September 7, 2009

    Is your school using Edublogs for students? I’m debating which platform to use to set up blogs for my 7th graders.
    Thanks!

  4. JCJ permalink
    September 7, 2009

    I can’t wait to really get started blogging. These guidelines are great. Thank you so much.

  5. September 7, 2009

    I have started a class blog this year, and need to address things like your comment guidelines. Some students are just using them to say hi, and nothing else just now! I hope to open our own private wikispace to let them be more informal, but your guidelines are great. I will certainly share some with my class, and put a trackback to my blog, http://www.educationtechnologyblog.com. Thanks.

  6. September 7, 2009

    These student blog guidelines are great. We have just completed Internet safety standards for South Carolina and your guidelines would make a terrific companion document for our standards. Thanks for sharing them.

  7. September 12, 2009

    @lsanderson,

    Thanks! All credit for that idea goes to Robin Ulster, grade 7 Humanities. The elementary students had the list of guidelines and a separate list of questions and she suggested we put them together. They’re so much more powerful that way!

    @Candace

    Glad they’re helpful for you Candace!

    @dierdrejaine

    We’re using WordPress Multi-User (the same platform that Edublogs uses, but not Edublogs). If you’re looking for something that doesn’t require any support from your tech department, edublogs is a great choice, but you might want to consider paying for the ad-free version.

    @JCJ

    Glad they’re helpful!

    @Jonathan

    Quality commenting is definitely worth discussion and modeling. I think most people start out just saying that they like things, but over time they begin to understand how important it is to start a real conversation and probe deeper with comments. Good luck with your class!

    @Martha

    Excellent! Thanks!

  8. Kassi Taylor permalink
    March 9, 2010

    Comment:
    I am quite impressed with the list that your junior high students came up with. This is a great idea to get them blogging and doing it with thought in mind of the ramifications their blogging experiences. When President Obama spoke last a little while back he pointed out that applications like Facebook and blogging that our students needed to be mindful of what they posted.

    This is a great way to get them thinking about things before they even start out. We are in such a technological savvy environment that sometimes we forget that things we post will be there forever…. Job interviews, promotions…. We all leave a trail of everywhere that we go that anyone, anywhere can find.

    • Kim Cofino permalink*
      March 9, 2010

      Kassi,

      You’re so right – we leave behind a digital footprint that will follow us where ever we go. I am really impressed with the depth of thinking and understanding our third graders showed in making these guidelines. I hope that means they’ll be better prepared to make good decisions in their online interactions.

    • November 2, 2010

      With regards to your point 2 “2. Do not share personal information.” & the point that Kassi makes re. Job interviews – (and also the points that Anthony Mayfield [ http://www.antonymayfield.com/ ] makes re. ensuring your webshadow represents a good public profile) – when do you think that students should start to look at creating a link between their online profile & their real life one?
      Emma´s last blog post ..Emmadw- @Erica-Jane-MP Just move to naturists only on planes

      • Kim Cofino permalink*
        November 20, 2010

        @Emma,

        Personally, I think students should use their online profile to share things they are proud of, and things that their parents and teachers would also be proud of. I think they can start doing that at any age. In terms of actually adding their last name or specific identifying factors as in where to find them in the real world, I think that decision is best left up to HS seniors and adults. Children still need a chance to make some mistakes, and I certainly wouldn’t want those kinds of mistakes to harm their chances of success in the future.

  9. April 2, 2010

    I am interested in getting my middle school students into blogging. I really like your guidelines. Thanks for sharing.
    .-= Paula Casallo´s last blog ..March 28th =-.

    • Kim Cofino permalink*
      April 9, 2010

      Paula,

      Excellent! I’m so glad the guidelines are useful for you! I hope they provide a good starter for discussion in your class.

  10. April 9, 2010

    I was just asked to write a blog policy for our school. Thanks for the great ideas. Your kids did terrific work!

    • Kim Cofino permalink*
      April 9, 2010

      Melanie,

      So glad the guidelines will be useful for you! I am so proud of our students. Good luck with your policy making.

  11. March 15, 2013

    Being a part of COETAIL has really taught me so much, and we are only through Course 1! One of the areas I started searching for was “Blogging for Elementary School Students,” and low and behold, your name appeared. What a useful guide for schools to use. I have already shared this with our tech coordinator at our school. I can’t wait to put it into practice.

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