The Internet has gotten a bad rap with parents, as they are concerned with their child’s amount of online play and Internet usage. While we all agree that too much time spent online can be a bad thing, teachers and parents can educate their kids to use the Internet in a healthy manner to promote learning and personal growth.
Through blogging, students can practice their writing, reading and critical thinking skills, and have a place to stimulate their creative potential.
It’s also a great place for them to learn their “voice.” In this day and age, people have a lot of voices: their one-on-one “voice,” their email “voice, ” their Facebook “voice,” and their blogging “voice.” The next time you go on a social media site or read an email from a friend or loved one, check out their “voice.”
Are they normally quiet and reserved but they speak in all-caps in emails? Are they generally very sociable but only “lurk” on Facebook? This is what I mean by voice. Check it out. It’s pretty amusing to see once you start looking.
Between the ages of 10-12, kids start developing their own voices. It seems to happen with puberty, when kids start to want to discover who they are and figure out what distinguishes them from their friends. Blogging is great for this.
It is practically impossible to keep students away from the Internet in today’s day and age. Moreover, the Internet provides children with a wealth of information, so it is better to teach students early on how to use the Internet safely and effectively. Like teaching a child about “stranger danger” and not accepting candies from strangers, it is important for children to understand the do’s and don’ts to being online.
Then, when they understand online safety, blogging is a great way to get out into the online world. Safety is an obvious concern, but at least with WordPress, you can set up your comment preferences and nothing can get published without your okay. Parents can check out submitted comments with their kids and this is a great way to discuss what might be appropriate and what might be inappropriate.
Here are some good practices:
Emphasize responsibility. Set a time limit to their Internet usage to take care of their eyes – staring at a bright screen at a short distance can damage their eyesight. Encourage them to brainstorm ideas onto a piece of paper if necessary when they have been staring at the computer screen for too long.
Blogging is a wonderful way to promote independent learning and thinking. Students can practice their typing and spelling skills. They can be exposed to current event matters and form their own opinions on them, or in general, hone in on what interests them when it comes to writing. Students can also explore their artistic side when you allow them to experiment with fonts and colors for their blog. Blogging, which is essentially an online journal, is a highly creative process that spice up an average class day to keep students entertained and engaged in learning.
While exercising creativity is important, if your students need a little help with the direction of their blogs, then provide a purpose for them – what do you, as a teacher, want your students to get out of starting their blogs?
If you plan on having your students add pictures to their blogs and if they are getting the images from online, make sure these pictures are under the creative commons license– the license allows you to use other peoples’ photos, granted you follow the sharing rules of the owner.
Students can also opt to take their own pictures for their blog.
Along with promoting self-growth, blogging provides students an opportunity to work closely with their peers – you can ask that each student comments and asks questions about their fellow peers’ works.
With proper education on the safety and etiquette involved, blogging can be a beneficial, connective, entertaining, engaging and educational experience for kids and parents alike.