In our classroom, we use the Internet daily, and much of that is spent communicating:  Posting on discussion boards, leaving criticism on drafts, commenting on displayed work. To build the right classroom culture from the beginning–and to avoid uncomfortable confrontations later–I spent my class periods today addressing positive Internet communication.

Even if it’s addressed in other classes or in assemblies, I think all teachers should address proper internet behavior in his or her own classroom. Not only does it reinforce using courtesy among students–an important lesson overall–but it also sets the tone for your particular classroom. Students can never say “I didn’t know” if you address it and spend time on it early in the year.

Here’s how we did it:

1) In groups, students wrote statements they would like to see on a code of conduct on a large easel paper (I get the Post-It version)

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2) Students hung their lists side by side, and I read them aloud, asking for more explanation and specificity when needed.

3) Students then voted for their three top favorite statements by putting a sticker by them.


Later, I took their lists and wrote their top 4-6 statements, combining statements and adding more specific language where necessary.


Tomorrow, each student will sign their name to the code of conduct. I’ll also take a photo of each one that I can post at the top of discussion boards or online assignments.

How did it go?  Overall, very well.  I only had one class that didn’t take it as seriously as I liked, so that’s a culture issue we’ll keep working on.

Does this mean all my students will be perfect angels over the year? Of course not. But when they make a mistake, I have the code of conduct and their signatures to fall back on. Plus, they’ve had a hand in making the Code of Conduct that is specific for their class period, so they’re more likely to take ownership than a code of conduct I wrote myself and handed out to them.