As I begin developing a blog primarily for my 8th grade students, but with a global audience and hopefully global participation, I'm finding myself struggling over whether or not to include a blogroll or my delicious links. Do I open the door to territory over which I have no control, or is the door open anyway, and I might as well provide them with a guidebook?

Beyond Keyboarding


~ Tommi

Tags: blogging

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First of all, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading through your blog. Having been out of the classroom for several years, it makes my heart ache to go back.

Anyway, in response to your post, I think that it is ironic that as we have moved from the small community-based schools of the past to schools that are now open to a global audience, teachers still face the challenge of how much they expose their lives outside of the classroom. It is especially difficult for young teachers (I was one of those) to draw boundary lines, or to know where to draw those lines. I would say that as long as your blogrolls and delicious links are appropriate (as I am sure they are) for students to see, there should be no problem.

However, as an adult, you deserve to have a "private life" outside of the classroom. In terms of what you share with your students, you might want to have separate delicious accounts and blog rolls that keep you blogs and links that are of a more personal nature or adult matters, or just none of your students' business, separate from those you share with your students. Although, as you said, the door may already be open anyway. I haven't looked at your blogroll or delicious links, but if they are as interesting and appropriate as your blog, your students would probably benefit from them.

Cassie Patt

PS, I would be honored if you add me as a colleague
I am in Educational Sales, and I love it, especially helping teachers and administrators create better learning environments. But there are times when I really miss the direct interaction with students. Reading blogs like yours helps me to remember the joy of teaching. :) Thank you for allowing this window into your classroom.

I'm glad that you raised this question about gated vs global blogging community...and for the discussion it has generated. I'm about to begin my first blogging attempt with students so I'm ready to learn from those forging the path.

While I don't know that my response addresses the issue of whether your bookmarks and blogroll should be shared with students, I simply wanted to weigh in on the issue of students seeing their teacher as a writer--as one who writes and has something to share...and maybe even for them to have the opportunity for them to comment--all very much part of the National Writing Project approach.

Them reading other blogs--with you as the gatekeeper to direct them to examples of good writing (and appropriate subject matter)--seems to me could lead some of them to see themselves as a part of that bigger community of people who write.

I'll be curious to learn how you handle this!

Hi Tommi,

My own thought is that teachers do have a responsibility to teach about the kinds of things that can be linked to, or read, on the Internet. But, you have no need to use yourself as a case study. It's OK to interact with students socially in the classroom. As a young teacher, I even used to take groups of students out to eat occasionally. However, there should be limitations. Even if there is nothing in your life that a 13 year old should not know about, your students do not need to know all about your life. Sure there are some things you can share but why share everything?

Just my opinion.
I think you need to protect yourself and your students. Hopefully you have notified parents and principals about what your goals are with student blogs. I agree with Andrew, you can model blogrolls and links but I would focus on what you are studying and wouldn't merge your life with theirs. Good luck. A Really Different Place
Tommi, Not bragging, but our blog (made with Drupal), is one of the 'tidiest' I've seen. The purpose is clear, the format easy to use, parents are onboard and blogging (!), the kids know the rules. In 3 years we've had 53,000 unique visits, that's a heck alot of reading and writing and reflecting!!

I also have two teacher blogs (I hate to write so I don't do much) and

Just like everything else, a blog can't be all things to all people. Remember back in the day when you'd go to someone's website and there would be hundreds of links with no annotation in a long, long, long list. Delicious is no different, if you give kids hundreds of GREAT sites their eyes will glaze over. It does not do a good jo of FOLDERS so you have to look through dozens of sites to find the one the kid is suppose to reference. The beauty of blogs is that you can say "today you'll be visiting these 3 sites, reading articles and reflecting on them."

We have RSS feed where age appropriate info comes into our blog site see "NEWS FEED" . The kids don't have to waste time looking for something good to read. I also do websites based on the units we do and store all relevant links there. Here is our Titanic in the Classroom Project from last Spring and our unit on The Inventive Process and Robotics. Hope that helps, let me know if you need anything else.

I am considering a Ning for my jh English, and hs Spanish classes next year. How do y'all solve the problem of student email access? Our district does not currently allow students to have on-campus email, and maybe 1/2-2/3 of my kids have internet access at home. Ning requires an email address for each member. Could you explain this from your site:

"Keep your personal information private! Do not reveal your full name or e-mail address when posting to the internet. Use the student code name and e-mail address written on the whiteboard in the classroom when posting to this site. Be safe always!"

What kind or email address and student code name are y'all using? I also have a wiki, but I have not let kids post to it.
Les, I wrote a post on this issue that should be helpful The Workaround for Setting Up Accounts for Students Even if You Don..., though the reality is all kids today have email and they could log in to a Ning site with their email.

As far as personal info, I don't believe that ultimately kids will be all that private. That is very difficult these days. A simple free Zabasearch will get most anyone's address and phone and for $40 bucks I can get a whole slew of info about every public record available i.e. Criminal Check, bankruptcies, sex offender, etc. etc. I think what we have to do is prepare students for the realities of this new and transparent world. A world very different from the one that all of us here grew up in. The reality is most students have already established a digital footprint by the time they've reached middle school. Instead of teaching kids to hide their identity online, I might instead focus on helping them with Ideas for Making a Purposeful and Professional Digital Footprint. That is a lifelong skill they will all need.
Thanks for the tip, Lisa. Most of our kids do have email, but we have a few who still don't.
Thanks for the info. Did you set them up real email, or "dummy" accounts? Did you use gmail or Yahoo or something like that?
Perhaps I missed it, but what precisely do you plan to do with blogging with students? I see you sending out a blog and using their comments. I see them being required to blog. Can you clarify how you plan to proceed?
Robert, as I mentioned several times during this discussion, it's important to know why you're going to use this tool. It's too much work just to do it because everybody is doing it or it's easy to set up.



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