Think Before You Comment

When we comment we model. When we Tweet professionally, we show our kiddos how they should behave online by our example. Or at least that's what we should be aiming for, right!? Creating a positive digital footprint so that our kiddos can see what that looks like.

Ethics: Why Aren't We Teaching This?

I think it's important to teach our kiddos the right and wrong ways to interact with each other. Why aren't we doing this already is more the question!? I'm not talking about basic "home training" I'm talking about creating situations,  throwing out some shade, & seeing how they react. Perhaps work in small groups & brainstorm reactions then have a discussion about the choices.
And NOT just online -- Oh no! Ethics are ethics. Let's  focus on choosing to do the right thing in real life as well as online. How to react with empathy to haters & people who provoke. Have them ask themselves before commenting (in the hallway, at lunch, online, wherever)
Is it kind?
Is it true?
Would you want it said to you? 

Rather than blocking social media sites, or warning against them, I think we need to trust our kiddos but at the same time guide them towards the right ways to behave online and everywhere!
I know "is it kind, is it true?" sounds sorta simple. Heck, It's not even new! The literary history of this goes back over a hundred years to a children's poem (See kids? We've been preaching these ethics BEFORE electricity!) and even ended up as a META misquote attributed to the Buddha.  But I do believe it holds true!  The other part that I omitted is necessary. Have you noticed that our kids have a REAL HARD TIME with understanding, was is necessary? It's a difficult concept for them. Here's where I need YOU! do we teach necessary?  Suggestions in the comments will be updated in this post!
Thank goodness our PLN ROCKS It HARD!
Thanks to libtech student LindsayLand and her comment, I found out about The So What? Test
blog post and graphic by author Austin Kleon
where he says: "The act of sharing is one of generosity—you’re putting something out there because you think it might be helpful or entertaining to someone on the other side of the screen.
If you’re unsure about whether to share something, let it sit for 24 hours. Put it in a drawer and walk out the door. The next day, take it out and look at it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself, “Is this helpful? Is it entertaining? Is it something I’d be comfortable with my boss or my mother seeing?”  I would add, teacher, gramma, potential college recruiter, or the press if you become famous someday!?
As as snarky as I am, I reeeely have to take a moment sometimes to think before I say something. To listen without thinking of what I am going to say next. I've also deleted a lot of snarky & opinionated Tweets and comments. But I also know, and kids need to know, that sometimes with life and the Internet you can't take things back. OK, ok, I've been preachin this for years but I'm very passionate about it!  If we spent even half the time with "Internet life" as we do with "family life" I think our kiddos would go to college a lot more prepared for their public future. Ironically, 5 years later - it's something I think we still could improve upon.

Commenting with Care
Here's a great set of guidelines to share with kiddos for commenting on blogs inspired and adapted from Bridget Compton-Moen and her kiddos of New Zealand that I use on our Daring School Library blog.

1.  Give a greeting – Say Hello! How You Doin? Wassup! Hi or Hey!

2.  Give a compliment about the post: eg, “I enjoyed reading your post aobut..insert topic here.”

3.  Add factual information if you can e.g. if someone has written a post about our MHTV studio, you might add a comment like, “We really like to use The Week in Rap website (or BBC America, The Washington Post, Library of Congress, History Channel, Channel One, etc.) for our TV shows.” Sharing what you care about starts conversations.

4.  Make a connection e.g. if you are reading a post about a school library, special event, or technology tip, you might write, “We also have a TV studio in our school and we are weather nerds, too!”  PLEASE NOTE: Constructive criticism is OK, as long as it’s phrased politely. Comments that are hating or rude will not be published. If we have a typoe though,  (heh heh typoe! get it?) please let us know. We don’t want to look doofusy with spelling & grammar. Nope, that’s not cool!

5.  Ask a question e.g. “What is your favourite book or iPad app?”


7. Sign off using your First name only.
You can also add:  Your grade and your school

Thanks to for her Storm Trooper CC Photos!

Austin Kleon
and his blog post & graphic The So What Test 

Blog Comment Guidelines Adapted with permission from the amazing Christchurch New Zealand classroom blog 8C Happenings by Bridget Compton-Moen @BridgetLCM


  1. Great post, Gwyneth! While reading, I found myself cheering "Indeed! Agreed! Indubitably!"

    Coincidentally, I recently came across a blog post (on Austin Kleon's blog) that relates to your question about teaching the abstract concept of "is it necessary?"
    Here's the link:

    Re-framing the "is it necessary?" question as "is it useful/helpful?" or "how is my comment useful/helpful?" may prove to be a good approach that will work for your students :)

    1. Thanks so much for your comment & share, Lindsay! As promised, I'm gonna add this to the post with your attribution, of course! W00t!

  2. Thank you for posting this! It's perfect for all grade levels and something I will definitely add to my biannual digital citizenship lesson/training! Another well-thought out lesson! Thanks! :)

    1. Comments like these, Jean just make my day!! Thank you so much! I'm so thrilled you found this helpful!

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