(Originally Published May 18, 2005 – Links are updated and current as of July 8, 2010)

My students are going to begin using blogs for discussion/brainstorming/metathinking in their final projects starting in about a week. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been reading a lot about concerns in various communities about the safety of teen blogging, with Xanga and Myspace being the usual culprits (both of which, along with LiveJournal, are blocked from computers in my district). I’ve also been reading various responses to these concerns from teachers who use blogs in their classes. I put together a lesson that I hope will help students work through the arguments made on both sides argument, with the goal of writing a class blog policy:

Responsible Blogging Lesson Plan:

Objectives:
At end of the lesson, students will:

  • Recognize the potential dangers of irresponsible blogging
  • Write an “Acceptable Blog Use” policy for our class
  • Be ready to begin the responsible use of blogs in our class.

Reading Materials:

Lesson:

  • Students will pick up printouts of the reading as they enter class
  • Read and markup the packet (20 minutes)
  • Rearrange room for Socratic Seminar [I’ve also seen this called a fishbowl. Short explanation for complex procedure: the room is arranged with an inner and an outer circle of desks, both facing inward. Students in the inner circle have a discussion based on a ‘text’ while the outer circle observes. The students then switch places. Sometimes the outer circle has a set of process questions to keep track of. There’s lots of other variations, but for this lesson that’s enough].
  • Seminar #1 – What are some of the potential dangers of blogging discussed in these articles? Which of these concerns are legitimate? Why or why not? What other dangers are there in blogging that were not discussed in the articles? (10 minutes)
  • Seminar #2 – What type of situations should our class blog policy cover? What are appropriate consequences for breaking the policy? (10 minutes)
  • After the seminar, students will get in groups of 3-4, and come up with a list of 3 rules they feel should be included in our class blog policy. They also will have to come up with consequences (10 minutes)
  • Students put rules on the board (5 minutes)
  • Discussion – What rules are we missing? (This will just be brainstorming…no shooting ideas down). What rules do you disagree with? (Disagreements will be put to a majority vote) – (15 minutes)
  • Follow up: I will type of the policy, and have students sign a copy of it the following class.

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