Welcome to our second Teacher Challenge!
Our “30 days to get your Students Blogging” Challenge is all about guiding you through the process of blogging with your students.
This challenge is open to anyone and everyone – and you don’t need to be a user of Edublogs at all or have participated in the first challenge.
Wherever you’re at — we’ll step you through the weekly tasks to increase your skills while providing mentors who’ll support your learning.
But most importantly ‘don’t stress, have fun’ — work through it at your own pace and remember to ask for help any time you need assistance!
In this first activity you will:
- Learn why a class blog is a good starting point for blogging with students
- Create a brand new class blog if you don’t already have one!
- Optimize your theme and appearance.
- Visit the Discussion Question for activity one to reflect on your experiences with getting started with class blogging.
- Complete the extension activity (if you have time).
Please feel free to skip Step 1: Sign up for a blog and Step 2: Optimize your theme and appearance if you have already set up your blog prior to this first activity.
Instead we suggest you start by completing the extension activity and then leave a comment on this post with a link to your post so we can read it.
Step 1: Why Have A Class Blog
A class blog is always a good starting point if you want to blog with your students.
It gives you to time to increase your skills while gradually introducing your students to blogging and educating them on appropriate online behaviour.
Start initially with you being responsible for writing posts, and the students responding in comments. As students demonstrate both keenness and responsibility give them their ‘blogging license’ where they earn the right to write posts on the class blog and/or get their own student blog.
Ultimately even if each student has their own blog it is always a good idea to have a class blog.
Blogging isn’t just about writing posts; it’s about sharing your learning and reflecting on what you have learnt.
Important parts of the blogging process include encouraging students to:
- Read each others posts
- Interact and comment on each others posts by challenging each others thoughts and views
- Write posts in response to each others posts
The class blog is the central hub that connects your student blogs together; making it easier to share their learning, interact with each other and a global audience.
Step 2: Sign up for your class blog
Your first step if you don’t currently have your own blog, or you would like to use a new blog for this challenge, is to sign up for a blog.
You can use any blogging platform you would like including Edublogs, WordPress, Blogger and TypePad however when we write detailed instructions they will refer to Edublogs. You will be able to adapt this information to the blogging platform you are using.
Here’s some things to consider before creating your blog:
#1 Username and Display Name
Your username is what you use to sign into your blog dashboard and is displayed on posts and comments you write. While you can’t change your username, most blog platforms do allow you to change how your name is displayed.
In most cases it’s better to choose a username that makes it easier for others to relate to you as a real person. For example, compare spwat3 with suewaters — which is easier to relate to?
On a class blog you need to consider what is an appropriate username for you to use. Most don’t allow students to use first and last name online so some prefer to model this by using names like Miss W or Mrs Waters.
#2 Blog URL
During the creation of your blog you’ll have to select a URL for it. When you want others to visit your blog you give them the URL link of your blog. For example, the URL for the Teacher Challenge blog is http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/
Think carefully about your blog URL.
Once your blog has an established audience you’re less likely to want to change your blog URL and educators often use the same blog for the next year’s class.
Ideally you want to keep your blog URL:
- easy to remember – something that is easy for both students and parents
- Avoid using your first name in the blog URL
- Suitable to be reused for several years – avoid using a room number or year in the blog URL since these both can change from year to year
A simple option is to use your name in the blog URL as these educators did:
- Mr Baldock’s Class blog (http://mrbaldock.edublogs.org)
- Mr Salsich’s Class blog (http://jmsalsich.edublogs.org/)
Alternatively use something unique that has meaning like:
- Huzzah (http://huzzah.edublogs.org)
- The Plugged-In Portable (http://thepluggedinportable.edublogs.org/)
#3 Blog Title
Think about the name of your blog.
Choose a name that reflects the purpose of your class blog and your students can relate to.
But don’t stress too much! You can always change your blog title any time via Settings > General in your dashboard.
Check out the following blog lists for ideas of blog titles other educators have used:
Check Out Class Blogs
Coming up with ideas on how you might use your blog with students can be hard to visualize.
Make time to check out how other educators use their class blogs to get ideas on “what works”/”doesn’t work”.
Here are some blogs for you to look at:
- Network Nine (Year 4)
- MrToft.ca (Grade 5)
- Grade 5e (Grade 5)
- Huzzah (Grade 6/7)
- Blog, blog blog blog, blog some more (English I)
- Endless Questions (Grade 6-8 languages)
- Or check out our class blog list (over 200 class blogs separated into grade and subject area)
Create Your Class Blog
Now you’ve done all the research it’s time to create your blog.
Here are the instructions to follow if you would like to set up your blog on Edublogs:
Step 3: Optimize your theme and appearance
Your theme is what controls the look and appearance of your blog. This is the template or look of the blog that people see when they visit your blog.
This is what gives it your class blog its personal touch.
Like most things in life first impressions count.
Great blog themes make good impressions on readers so that visitors are more likely to read your posts and subscribe to your blog.
Overwhelming themes detract from your blog content, and visitors will be less likely to read your posts and subscribe to your blog.
Every newly created blog on a blogging platform normally has the same default theme. The last thing you want is to look like all the other blogs.
New bloggers often spend considerable time changing their blog theme to work out which theme works best for them. While you do have a limited time to make the right impression for first time readers….Don’t spend too much time initially on your blog theme because you will find that you change it as your tastes change.
Ready to change your theme?
And check out the following if you would like more information on blog themes:
- The Edublogger’s Introduction to blogging
- The 137 Edublogs Themes Separated Into Categories To Make Choosing Your Next Theme Easier
Step 4 – Discussion Question
Visit the Discussion Question for activity one to reflect on your experiences with getting started with class blogging.
Step 5 – Extension Activity – Optional
Congratulations! If you’ve done all those steps — well done.
And we’ve included this extension activity for those who are wanting for extra work and for those beginners who have already set up their class blog.
For the extension activity we would like you to write a comment on this post or a post on your personal blog to tell us what you’ve learnt from checking out the different class blog such as:
- What were your favourite class blogs? What was it about those class blogs you liked the most?
- What do you plan to use your class blog for? And did you have any specific questions you’d like to ask us about how you are planning to use your class blog?
- What aspects of class and or student blogging you have struggled with?
Don’t forget if you write a post to leave a comment on this post with a link to your post so we can share with others.
Here is where you find the other activities from this series:
Thanks to everyone who is participating in the 30 Days to Get Started Blogging with your students!
And if you missed out, it is never too late to work through the challenges at your own pace!
You can always form your own team with other educators and work together!
- Student Blogging Activity 1 (Beginner): Setting Up Your Class Blog
- Student Blogging Activity 2 (Beginner): Setting Up Rules & Guidelines
- Student Blogging Activity 3 (Beginner) – Teaching Quality Commenting
- Student Blogging Activity 4 (Beginner) – Helping Parents Connect with your Class Blog
- Student Blogging Activity 5 (Beginner): Add Students To Your Class Blog So They Can Write Posts
- Student Blogging Activity 6 (Beginner): Add A Visitor Tracking Widget To Your Blog Sidebar
- Student Blogging Activity 7 (Beginner): Set up your student blogs
- Student Blogging Activity 8 (Beginners): Add your student blogs to your blogroll
- Student Blogging Activity 9 (Beginners): Add Your Student Blogs To A Folder In Google Reader