Monday, October 31, 2011

Learning what's appropriate

    On my 8th grade class Moodle, I added a new feature this year – the Coffee House.  It’s a place for off-topic discussions.  A place to play.

    I get an email whenever anyone posts there, so I can keep an eye on what’s going on. And students have asked me specifically if I'm checking what they post there, so I know they think about this.  There has been silliness, brief conversations about singers they like (or don’t), starting of stories for people to continue, recording of athletic feats. 

    There has also been some inappropriate content in the form of disrupting somebody else’s discussion.  Some students posted a thread about unicorns, and how much these students like them.  This resulted in some disruptive posts by other students. I held back because I wanted to see how the original posters would handle it – which they did well.  In no uncertain terms they told the disruptive posters to knock it off.  And if they don’t like unicorns, start their own threads on a topic they do like.   

    Since the disruptive posters continued to post, I also posted, telling them to stop, and to start their own thread on a topic that interested them.  One post was an outright put-down, so I replaced its content with the words “Inappropriate content deleted;” Moodle shows that I was the one who did this.

    Disruptive posts just about stopped, but still continued once in awhile, so I took one of the posters aside to remind the poster that it needed to stop.  It has.   

    This is middle school, and not everybody has great social skills.  What am I saying?!  Nobody  in middle school has great social skills.  But some are even less adept than their peers and need a little guidance. 

    No harm has been done beyond ruffled feathers.  And everybody is getting a lesson in handling themselves online.

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