Student Blogging Activity 5 (Beginner): Add Students To Your Class Blog So They Can Write Posts

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Normally when a class blog is initially set up you’ll be responsible for writing posts, and the students respond by writing comments.

This gives you time to increase your skills while gradually introducing your students to blogging and educating them on appropriate online behaviour.

However, ultimately you’ll need to make decisions:

  • Do you want students to write posts on the class blog?
  • Do you want them to have their own student blog?

In this fifth activity you will:

  1. Consider reasons why you would add students as users to a class blog.
  2. Learn about what role you can assign student users on a class blog.
  3. Learn how to add students as users to a class blog.
  4. Learn how to organise student posts on a class blog.
  5. Complete the extension activity (if you have time).

Step 1: Why Add Students As Users To Class Blogs?

Factors you need to consider include student’s age, time and motivation.

As student’s age increases you are more likely to want them to write posts on the class blog or their own blog (i.e. as a general rule Kindergarten and Grade 1 students write comments only).

#1 Ownership and Motivation

Ownership is an important part of blogging; as it’s an important part of life.

We all take better care of and have increased motivation when we feel personal ownership.

Students are no different from adults.

Ever tried to set up adults on a group blog?  Incredibly challenging — often one person does the bulk of the publishing!  Yet each individual happily posts on their own blog.

#2 Time Involved

Increasing student’s blogging role increases the time spent providing guidance and monitoring their online activities.

However,  your students learn more, are more motivated and their writing improves faster.

Check out these student bloggers to see for yourself:  Best Student Edublog 2010

Teacher role vs Student motivation

PS You can create your own GraphJam here!

#3 Introducing Blogging To Students

If you decide to increase your students’ blogging roles it’s a good idea to introduce it slowly in the following three steps:

Step 1 Write comments on class blogs

Step 2Write posts on the class blog

Step 3Write posts on their own student blog

Step 2: What Role Do You Assign Students on Blogs?

When you add users to a blog you have the ability to assign and control what other users can do on the blog depending on the tasks you want each user to be responsible for.

The five roles a user can be assigned on a blog in decreasing level of responsibility are:  Administrator; Editor; Author; Contributor; and Subscriber.

On a class blog you would assign students the role of contributor or author:

  1. Contributor – used if you want to approve all posts before they are published.  As a contributor they’ll submit their post as pending and the post won’t be published on the class blog until you’ve approved it.
  2. Author – used if you are happy for them to publish their own posts.  As a author they can’t edit or delete anyone else’s posts.

When the students log into the dashboard you’ll notice they have less menu items.  This is because as a contributor or author they don’t have the same level of access as an administrator.

You can read more about what role to assign students on blogs here.

Here is a summary of their differences based on User Capability:

Roles you can assign student users

Here is a summary of their differences based on access to features in the dashboard:

Access to menu items based on user role

Step 3: Adding Students As Users To Class Blogs

There are two main ways to add users to a class blog on Edublogs:

  1. Using Blogs and Users Creator  – use on Edublogs Pro and Campus blog.
  2. Using Add New – use on a free Edublogs blog.

Please note:

  • There are no limitations on the number of users you can add to a blog!
  • The Blogs and Users Creator is the fastest and best way to add students quickly to your class blog

Bulk adding students using the Blog and user creator

The Blog & User Creator is designed to bulk add users to blogs and is the fastest way of adding new users to your blog.  Click on Add more button at the bottom of the page if you want to add more than 5 users in a batch.

1.  Go to Users > Blog & User Creator 

2.  Click on the Add New Users tab

3.  Add suitable usernames.

4.  Add their email address.

5.  Add their password

  • It’s best to use a preset password (and unique password for each student) and record all student login details in a spreadsheet — in case they lose, delete or don’t receive their login email.

6.  Select their role.


7.   Click Submit at the bottom of the page to create and add them to your blog.

8.  The students will be immediately added as users to the blog and you’ll see them listed on your Users > All Users page.

Adding students using Users > Add New

Refer to these instructions on adding users using Add New if you are using a free Edublogs blog.
Please note:

  1. The Blogs and Users Creator is the fastest way to add students quickly to your class blog
  2. Most use teachers use a combination of their student’s first name followed by numbers that might represent the year, class number and/or school initials.  They do this to protect the identity of the student by not including their last name and to ensure their username is unique (as Edublogs has close to 1,000,000 users).   For example, username misty10 or mistybp16.

Student accounts and email address

An email address is required when you create student accounts — it’s important for password resets, comment moderation etc

If your students don’t have email addresses the simplest solution is to set up their accounts using one Gmail account and then add a + sign and a different number and/or letter(s) to the end of your email name for each student.

How it works is Gmails ignores anything in the first half of an email address after a plus sign.

So if you create each email with the format [email protected] all emails will be sent to the inbox of [email protected]

Please Note:

  • You must use a real gmail account– either use your own gmail account or set up a gmail account for your class e.g. [email protected]
  • This also means that if you want to moderate comments on student posts they will be sent to your email address.

Step 4: Organsing Student Posts on Class Blogs

Educators new to blogging often struggle with when you write posts as opposed to pages.

The best way to manage your student work is they write posts and assign their name as a category to the post before they publish their post.  This makes it easy to find and manage their work.

You display the categories assigned to posts in your blog sidebar using the categories widget (here is how to add widgets).

This means when you click on the name of a student in your sidebar it’ll loads a page with all posts that use that student name as a category — check this out in action on Mr.Toft.ca!

Watch Nathan Toft’s excellent video to see how he adds students to blogs and assigns them categories!

Here is more information on:

  1. Introduction to working with Pages
  2. Effective and engaging posts

Before you get them writing posts just create a category for each student as follows:

All you need to do is add the categories widget to your blog sidebar (here is how to add widgets).  Then when you click on the name of a student in your sidebar it’ll loads a page with all posts with that category assigned to it — check this out in action on Mr.Toft.ca!

1.  Go to Posts > Categories in your blog dashboard

2.  Add the first name of your student (if necessary include initial of last name)

3.  Click Add Category

Tip:

  • Set up Category Parents before you create a category for each student if you want to sort your categories into groups.
  • For example, you might have Student as a parent category and then all Student names underneath.  Then you might have another parent category for subjects and have all the subject names underneath.

Below’s what your categories might look like in your blog sidebar.

  • Please note that categories won’t display in your category widget until the category has been assigned to a post.

Example of organising categories using Parent Categories

Video

Watch this video to learn about managing categories

Adding a category to a Post

Now when your students write their post it’s as simple as:

  1. Write their post
  2. Select their name as a category
  3. Click Publish post or Submit for Review

Step 5: Complete the extension activity (if you have time).

Write a post (or leave a comment on this post) on one of the topics below:

  1. Your thoughts on what roles students should be assigned on a class blog (and why?)
  2. Design a check list sheet or instructions for your student bloggers in terms of what you expect from them when they write their posts.
  3. Check out and review some of the class blogs that were shortlisted for the Edublogs Awards where students are involved with writing posts.  Types of details to review include: what types of posts do the students write; how is the teacher organising students posts on the blog.

And remember to leave a comment with a link to your post so we can drop past to check it out!  We like to include these links to your posts in our weekly reviews!

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!

  1. Student Blogging Activity 1 (Beginner): Setting Up Your Class Blog
  2. Student Blogging Activity 2 (Beginner): Setting Up Rules & Guidelines
  3. Student Blogging Activity 3 (Beginner) – Teaching Quality Commenting
  4. Student Blogging Activity 4 (Beginner) – Helping Parents Connect with your Class Blog
  5. Student Blogging Activity 5 (Beginner): Add Students To Your Class Blog So They Can Write Posts
  6. Student Blogging Activity 6 (Beginner): Add A Visitor Tracking Widget To Your Blog Sidebar
  7. Student Blogging Activity 7 (Beginner): Set up your student blogs
  8. Student Blogging Activity 8 (Beginners): Add your student blogs to your blogroll
  9. Student Blogging Activity 9 (Beginners): Add Your Student Blogs To A Folder In Google Reader

19 thoughts on “Student Blogging Activity 5 (Beginner): Add Students To Your Class Blog So They Can Write Posts

  1. Pingback: Blogging with Students, Activity 5 (Advanced) –Student Apprenticeships in Blogging! | Teacher Challenge

    • Hi Deb, I really do believe that is the best approach. To take them slowly from writing comments, and focusing on good comments. Then as you start to see some keen to take to next level get them involved with writing posts.

      Thanks for sharing the link to the task. They have done a great job! Did you know that you can change the Avatar from the default by going to Settings > Discussion in the advanced admin interface. There are some random ones the students might like?

  2. Dear All,
    I sort of use roles in the way Sue described. I’m not as good at it as I’d like to be but I’m improving, so that’s a good thing. I just wrote a description where I am in blogging with my students about science ideas. Near the bottom of the post, you’ll find how I have three categories of bloggers at the moment. on the blog

    I’d like to better differentiate the posts as Sue has shown in this post, but I’m not there yet. I guess the good news is that no matter how much you’ve learned there’s always more to learn…and that Edublogs Professional Development teachers will be there to help us learn. Honestly, it is the best PD I’ve ever had…ongoing, gently but always pushing me forward to better, and supportive 100%. Thanks.

    I’d love you to stop by and give me ideas on how I can improve or change things to make them better for my kiddos.

    marsha

  3. My students are commenting on other class/student blog posts and really enjoying it. I used the last challenge to invite parents to come and help/watch the students comment using proper guidelines. They take a group of students and verbally approve their comments before they send them. So far, the students have commented on 2 blogs: http://kidblog.org/MrsSurridgesclass/ and http://mrmillersblog.com/. We’ve created a nice connection with the 2 classrooms as well.

    Theresa

    • Hi Theresa, can you explain a bit more about how you got the parents to assist with the commenting aspect? Did you get them to come into class and work with the students?

      • Sure! I sent an email through our student information system to all of the 4th grade parents to let them know what their children were doing in my class w/ blogging. Then I offered a few suggestions to help: comment on our class blog and/or help the students comment. So far, I have 5 parents who want to help. It’s really nice! I’ve only had a few who have commented. I think I need to write more specific steps for them next time. (:

  4. To get my students thinking about blogging and our beginnings with it through commenting, I wanted them to visit some student blogs. After reading mrsratzel’s comment, I visited her post

    Link Teaching Techie on Student Commenting

    I read all her students’ posts and commented on them. I then wrote this post to guide my students in understanding how students blog:

    Can You Hear Me Now?

    We read posts and students kept track of what they learned. We’ll take another day to reflect on our learning. They loved the widgets, and a few commented.

    We will start with commenting, but move on to posting as students demonstrate etiquette and relevance in their work. I’ve set up each student as contributor when they are ready to post. Thanks to mrsratzel for her work and reflections, which have helped my students and me begin this journey.

    • Hi Sheri, excellent review of the student blogs and great activity to do with your students. Marsha does some really amazing work with her students so it is excellent to see what you are gaining by checking out her approach.

  5. Pingback: Student Blogging Activity 7 (Beginner): Set up your student blogs | Teacher Challenge

  6. Pingback: Sample Activity for Beginners (Elementary Level Students) « My Research Blog

  7. Pingback: Our tips for getting blogs ready for the end of the school year | The Edublogger

  8. HI, Thanks for the tips in this site, it’s exactly what I needed! I am using a blog to motivate my teenage school leaver literacy students in their writing. I need to give them as much leeway as possible otherwise they will lose interest, and intend to run the blog through “editorial team” meetings. I now have my agenda for the first meeting – guidelines and how open we want the audience initially. I’m hoping we can run it by the students taking turns to be editors, and now I understand the difference between editors and administtrators, I think we can manage that if thats what they want to do (I’ll create the want to do it eventually!)
    I have been looking for blogs by adult literacy students for them to look at – unfortunately most of them will not be inspired by the amazing blogs of anyone younger than them. But I can’t find anything done by adult students through google searching. Do you know of anything?
    Thanks again I’ll be back Im sure!!
    Stefanie

  9. Pingback: Blogging with Students for Beginners? : From the Mixed-Up Mind of Mrs. Beaver

  10. Hi again. I’ve set up a new blog with another class, ESOL adults, which is going well so far. I’m using it as a whole class writing and communication tool.
    However, I’m having some technical problems, hoping you can help me. One of my students has activated her login through email and reset her password, but her user name doesn’t appearing in the user list and when she logs in she gets taken to the general Edublogs site, not our class blog. The class blog is http://www.pacebloggersalbany.edublogs.org if you want to look. All the other students have logged in successfully.
    Also some students dont’ automatically get categorised when they write posts, but others do, even if I have previously categorised them. Its not too much hassle to change the categories, but would like to know why. This problem also applies to my own posts.
    Thanks heaps in advance, Stefanie

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