Ever since hearing about the blogs of Al Upton’s 3rd graders being at least temporarily shut down because of fears that too much student information was being disclosed, I’ve wondered how I could help the situation. After much thought I decided to approach the situation with my 5th graders through what we have been learning about the Revolutionary War, and how the United States formed a new government. We focused on freedom of speech and why the founding fathers designed our government with a separation of powers … all the issues associated with “kings” and their abuse of power over the centuries and how that effected how our government was designed.
We talked about how on the one hand we have the freedom of speech and can say what we want, but that we can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded building because people would be put in danger. We also talked about swaying public opinion with a well thought out argument versus complaining and ranting and coming across negatively. Next we talked about the situation with Al’s students and our 1 day experience with having our blogs blocked. That really hit home with them which I was glad to see. They tend to take life on the chin and not get riled about the important things. They wanted to express themselves about blogging and why Al’s students should blog from an academic standpoint and how they could be safe blogging and their parents should allow it based on following some of the guidelines we follow.
So after a group brainstorm students made their points about the value of blogging and why the Minilegends’ parents and school should support it. They left the comments on Al’s post (now well over 100 comments total) and felt like maybe they had learned something and done some good. I felt it was time well spent and helped them make some connections with history.
Learning is messy!