Everyone has an opinion
We live in a world where everyone’s opinion can be heard. These opinions can be expressed in a matter of ways, both negatively and positively. It is often this notion that deters teachers from opening their classroom to the power of blogging. Kidblog offers a way to ease this worry by allowing students to both express themselves and respond to one another, all in a moderated space.
Creating Positive Criticism
When we start blogging in my classroom, we have a long conversation about how to disagree respectfully. You see, I want my students to feel safe and understand that they may not always agree with a classmates’ blog post. They need to know that it is okay to express a different side to an issue. Often times, I will generate blog post topics that will spar some controversy so we can practice this way of commenting. I require my students to comment on 1-2 blogs weekly so that they can show their understanding.
We talk about how to disagree “with respect”. Negative, personal criticism hurts feelings and immediately makes someone defensive. As a class, we work to turn negative statements into respectful disagreements.
Kidblog has the option of having comments approved before the author sees them. I love this feature because it protects the post authors from seeing comments that haven’t quite grasped our respectful style of disagreeing. I am also given the option to reply the student whose comment I disapproved, providing an opportunity to revise it. My students know that I monitor the comments and approve them once or twice a week.
I will admit, this is a challenge for seventh and eighth graders who just want to spout how ridiculous something is without thinking of the person behind it. I believe we have to teach these students that although their opinion is worthy, the way they express it is just as important as the opinion itself. Blogging gives us the ability to communicate in a safe, secure manner but it also has a “blind” component to it that students like to hide behind. These features foster an amazing conversation in the classroom and have brought about some of my best “teachable moments.”