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Having a public classroom blog is a wonderful way for students to learn about the world, connect with others, and build an online learning community. Because my third grade blog is public, my students and I have been able to develop friendships with other classes through quality commenting on our blog. We refer to these friends as blogging buddies. We regularly share and learn from our blogging buddies who are located all over the world. These friendships have lead to several spectacular global projects.


A big concern about publishing and learning online is the issue of safety and privacy. I have found that having an open, public blog is a valuable way to learn about and practice appropriate online behavior. Online safety is not just a one week unit of study, it is modeled and discussed throughout the year as we publish posts, share on our class photo-of-the-day project, and comment back to our readers.


Here are some of my ideas about teaching young students and their parents about contributing and publishing on the Internet.



1. Limit personal information.
  • Never pair a child's photo with his/her name
  • Teach children how to take photos that tell a story without revealing too much personal information (Examples: Halloween, Who Are You? and How To Take a Good Picture)
  • Use first names only (or a pseudonym) when posting or commenting
  • Encourage parents to comment using their first names (See image below.)



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2. Teach and model good digital citizenship


  • Children need to be taught about digital citizenship and cyber safety. These concepts should be discussed and reviewed periodically. Here is a great video from Learn With Professor Garfieldabout Cyber Bullying. Teach children to never give out their YAPPY!


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Image from 4KM and 4KJ




3. Educate Parents
  • I advise parents to monitor their child online, always. I recommend keeping the computer in a place where a child can be supervised and where adult help is available.
  • Students like joining social media sites like FaceBook, Instagram, and YouTube, especially if they have older siblings. However, there are laws that forbid children under the age of 13 from joining. I strongly urge parents to abide by these laws.
  • Although all parents sign an Acceptable Use agreement, I like to send home a letter outlining the educational value of blogging and ask for permission to contribute to the blog. During my first year of blogging, a few parents opted out. Since then, everyone have participated.