As many educators know, blogging can bring out some great discussion. We all like throwing ideas and questions out to the blogging world to create discussion. Comments are great and often lead to other posts, comments, and questions. Many teachers realize the impact this could have on student writing. It immediately creates a real-world audience that can provide feedback on student writing. The feedback could require the student to take a stand on an issue or back up what they've written. For some, this is great. For others, this feedback could end up being more than they are looking for.

Here's an example. Our local community has a web site that allows some community members to run blogs on the site. These bloggers come from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and attitude - a great representation of the real world. I made the brilliant idea mistake of responding to a blog about a decision my school district has made. I won't get into the details, but the creator of the blog, and many of his readers, disagree with the decision. I've known about the decision for a while, and don't have as big of a problem with it as the writer and the readers who have commented. Although I do see where they are coming from.

After submitting a few comments to the blog discussing the "other side" to the spending - not necessarily supporting it, but not not supporting it either, my simple discussion has turned into something I wasn't looking for. I felt like I had to comment on every comment that was made to my comments - if that makes sense. I also had to defend myself while sort of being gently attacked for bringing up the opinion the blogger and the readers didn't have. Now, I really don't have too much of a problem with defending myself, but I really didn't go into this with wanting to do that. I simply made a comment and it kind of turned into a monster. One person wanted to know what my connection to the district was - I never stated it, but they inferred that I had a connection. I decided that I did need to disclose that I taught in the district, but felt compelled to mention that I didn't support all decisions the School Board makes. Should I have to defend myself? What started out as a simple blog and discussion put me on my heels. Sure, I could never return to the blog, but I want to know what people will say. Now, I'm wondering how much digging some people might do to find out who I am. I'm using a pen name, not my real one - like some of the others.

Is blogging something that could hurt students? What if they write something and get in a situation like this and then start getting attacked for what they've said? On the positive side, it would be a quick lesson in making sure you can back up your opinions and what you write. They could learn about what battles to fight and what battles to ignore. It could show students the power of their words. On the other side, it could really shut down someone's voice. The writer could fear that it's not worth putting something out there and get attacked for it - they might feel taking the abuse simply isn't worth their time or something they want to deal with.

Your thoughts?

2 comments

  1. ms. whatsit // November 15, 2007 at 6:22 PM  

    Blogs are the perfect medium for persuasive writing, and yes, there could be a problem when someone with an opposing viewpoint "attacks" back. I think that it's important to convey that such situations are a part of life and part of the freedom and responsibility of American citizenship.

    We don't want kids to be afraid to speak their minds. At the same time, we want them to also realize that it's okay not to be perfectly aligned with the opinion of the majority.

  2. nbosch // November 24, 2007 at 6:56 PM  

    When I think about using a social network like classroom20.ning.com in my school, I hesitate. I just don't think people will really discuss what is on their minds. Blogging, discussions, commenting are permanent. It's hard to find the balance between saying what's on your mind and not.

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