E-mail, Cyber Bullies, and Parental Concerns

I finally got an e-mail.  It wasn't a bad e-mail; it wasn't a good e-mail.  It was a concerned e-mail.  I haven't received any parental response (good or bad) about student blogging this year. So, I guess some response is better than no response.

The e-mail basically stated that this parent was going to restrict her child from blogging because of security uncertainties and the possibility of cyber bullying.  The parent also wanted clarification on the purpose of the student blogs.  I tried not to show my frustration, but I'm down on myself because we have been blogging for five months this year with almost no parental interaction. 

Here is my response:

Thank you so much for your concerns. 
Our student blogs are public and available for anyone in the world to read.  We have two buddy classes that we blog and write with- 2nd graders in Alabama, and 5th graders in Pennsylvania.

Absolutely everything on both sides is moderated.  No post or comment can be made without approval.  This means that that the chances of cyber bullying are essentially zero.  Every interaction the students have is monitored.  I feel that the security is very good.

I am committed to teaching my students not only about 21st century writing skills, but also about being responsible digital citizens.  Cyber bullying is a big deal to me.  We talk frequently about how to handle ourselves online.  We talk about making responsible choices and treating people the right way.  I am constantly reinforcing the fact that "the Internet is forever."  We also often talk about what is and is not safe to share online.  These are such valuable lessons for 4th graders to learn.

The purpose of our class blog is simply to share.  We share our thoughts and our learning.  We collaborate and comment.  But, most of all, we share the experience together.  Almost every curricular goal for writing is practiced in the context of these blogs.  Your child is a smart and responsible young person.  Please continue talking with your child and keep an open conversation.  I feel that student blogging is a safe and worthwhile experience.  I am urging you to reconsider your restriction.

Please check out their work at http://kidblog.org/stortz  Read a few posts, and ask your child to show you how to comment if you would like to leave your thoughts.

Let me know if you have any other questions.