Privacy, Paper Blogs & Meaningful Commenting

Do you remember summer camp? Laying under a million stars and sharing your life with your new best friend? Sharing your life was cathartic and, best of all, you controlled the story line. You controlled how the protagonist (you) were portrayed. You controlled the characterization details of the antagonist (your mean older siblings). You even controlled the plot points, climax, and resolution - all based on your new best friend's interaction with the story. You, of course, were completely honest. You never deliberately lied, but, in all honesty, the story line changed as you grew up because your perspective changed.

The difference between sharing with a new best friend (a stranger) under a canopy of stars and sharing with new "friends" (also strangers) in online posts is when your camp friend goes home, the details of your life story become less relevant. Your new best friend will forget details and the story will fade into memories. Unfortunately, text messages, blogs, and posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, etc, do not fade. Online posts are stored forever in some cache somewhere, even after they are deleted.

The public-ness of online posts can harm society and limit our ability to change, make mistakes, and grow into better people as we learn from those mistakes. We are not the same people we were as teenagers. I kept a journal in high school and college. Although I am not the same person I was at fourteen, those written words helped me become who I am today. Those words had no audience, and should I ever choose to share those words with my children, I will carefully select the passages. Sadly, I wouldn't be able to maintain this privacy if I had posted all of my teenage thoughts and angst online. I would have prevented myself from reinventing myself.

My concept of Private Journal vs. Public Posts lesson dates back to July 2013 in a Journals vs. Diaries blog, and I discussed it again in May 2014 in Student Blogging. I knew that I wanted to blog with my students, but I also knew that I had to instill a student self-privacy filter. I didn't have a privacy filter when I was their age, but then again, I didn't have the internet that forever cached my words.

In June 2014, I had an incredible twitter conversation with Vicki Davis regarding this very topic. Then in July 2014 Melanie Essex posted this tweet:
and I was hooked! I researched and researched paper blogs. A paper blog is a physical, artistic student writing on construction paper with post-its that teaches students how to blog and comment before they go online.

I read and studied the 2010 post from McTeach. I googled Paper Blogs and found Pernille Ripp, who was already one of my favorite education bloggers. As I researched, I planned for my first two weeks of school. Paper blogs was the perfect complement to my Private Journals vs. Public Blogs discussion that I had with Vicki Davis in August 2014 for a show on Bam Radio! Student Privacy: Four Rules to Teach Students How to Draw the Line.

This blog series is a prequel to McTeach and Pernille Ripp's incredible writing lessons. My blog series will focus on teaching students the difference between Private Journals vs. Public Posts prior to creating paper blogs and commenting on them with post-its.

  1. Privacy, Paper Blogs & Meaningful Commenting
  2. The Right to be Forgotten
  3. The Mama Rule
  4. Review - Private Journal vs. Public Blog Chart
  5. The Lincoln Rule
  6. The Common Sense Rule - Do Not Brag about Criminal Activity
  7. The One Exception 
  8. The Positive Google Footprint Rule - Your Resume

As I write these posts, please feel free to use, edit, and revise my Paper Blog Google Slides Presentation:

One of the greatest benefits of Twitter is the ability to share classroom ideas and expand on them. I thank Melanie Essex, McTeach, Pernille Ripp and Vicki Davis for inspiring this lesson.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! My favorite part of this post was the My Big Campus post. I know there is so much for students to take away from blogging and reading about the transformation of your students just solidified it. One of my goals for the 30 Day Blogging Challenge hosted by @teachthought was for my students to find their voice and understand what a difference they can make. I believe in my heart that blogging is a way for them to do this. Do you mind if I share some of things from the MBC post with my students? I think it would be wonderful for them to see how this just might change their lives.

  2. I would be honored if you shared the post. I would love to see your students' post too.

  3. Wow - what a fantastic read! Love this post - meaningful commenting is one of the first things I look at with teachers and students when learning about digital citizenship - so important! Keep up the amazing work! Well done - will be popping back to your blog frequently now! Keep it up and keep sharing

    1. Thank you. I love how we can learn from each other even though we are on different continents. Keep up the good work in Singapore!


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