Class Blog Activity 2 – Customizing Your Blog’s Look

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This is the second post in the Creating a Class Blog challenge – an open and free professional development series for educators.

In this challenge, you will:

  • Learn how to change your blog’s theme
  • See how you can add widgets to sidebars
  • Customize your blog’s header
  • Create a custom menu
  • Change your blog’s background

Changing your blog’s look and feel is the ultimate way to personalize your blog. 

You may have already completed some of the steps below – and you won’t really need to do everything outlined. Your theme and look is something you can constantly change and improve over time.

Here is a complete overview of the main things you can do to customize your blog:

Changing your theme

Every newly created blog has the same default theme (as shown below). This is what visitors to your blog see.

We already have several good resources on choosing and changing theme.

  1. What to consider when choosing your blog’s theme
  2. Here is a complete overview of all themes available which makes it easier to find one that meets your needs
  3. Here is step-by-step directions on how to change themes

Adding widgets to sidebars

When you first create a blog, several of the most common widgets are already on your blog.

Widgets are tools that you can use to add, arrange and display content in your blog sidebars. Common content displayed in blog sidebars include blogroll, tag clouds, categories and monthly archives.

But there are a bunch of additional widgets available – and many plugins also add specific widgets as well.

Check out this help document on how to change widgets.
Video

Watch the video below to learn how to change widgets

Changing header image

In many themes, you will see a “Header” link which lets you add an image at the top of your blog.

You can add your own image header in 4 quick steps:

1. Create you image using your favorite image editor. You can find the image size (length and width in pixels) at the “Header” link on your current theme, or on the theme overview post here.

2. Go to Appearance Header 

3.Click on Choose file, browse for the image on your computer and then click on Open.

  • Only .jpeg, .gif, and .png files can be used for image headers.
  • For best results we recommend you resize the image to the exact dimensions recommended for that theme before uploading by using an image editing program.
4.  Next click Upload.


4.  Your image will upload and if it isn’t the exact dimensions you’ll need to select the area you want to crop and then click Crop and Publish.

5.  Your new image header should appear immediately on your blog. However if it doesn’t try clearing your web browser cache by holding the Ctrl key and pressing F5.

NEW! Creating a custom menu

Custom menus are a new feature of Edublogs – they allow you to really take control of the top navigation bar of your blog.

You may not need to make a custom menu, as in most themes, pages are automatically added to your menu – but they are great if you want to add categories to your menu, or outside links to places away from your blog.

Video

Watch the video below to learn how to create a custom navigation menu

Here are some important links for custom menus:

  1. How to use custom menus
  2. Use custom menus to organize multiple classes or subjects on your blog

NEW! Changing the background

Custom background images are also new to Edublogs.

On many themes, much like custom header images, you can add images to your blog’s dashboard.

We even have some great pre-loaded images you can choose from under Appearance > Preset Background

Or you can upload your own by going to Appearance > Background

Next steps…

From here you should start really using your blog before making many major additional changes to your theme.

As you get more familiar with your blog, you will discover things you want to change over time.

Leave a comment with a link to your blog or with any questions you may have!

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28 thoughts on “Class Blog Activity 2 – Customizing Your Blog’s Look

  1. I’m still torn about whether to use my wordpress site or my weebly site to host the blog. I still have a couple of weeks before school starts to decide.

    I like that there is no advertising on weebly, but I really love how the blog looks on wordpress: http://www.tinyurl.com/mms-tech-times (I tried using edublogs but, without a premium account, I don’t have as much control over settings).

    If anyone has experience hosting their class blog on wordpress, please let me know whether or not the ads are always appropriate. Thanks.

  2. I am not sure I will be doing all of the challenges with this program, but I do have my site set up for my students at http://drschultz.edublogs.org/

    I haven’t shared the link with my students or their families yet, so this is still really set up mode.

    I would love to partner with another teacher who is having students write and post and teaches kids in the range of 4th through 6th grades.

  3. Hello Ronnie,
    It’s great to see that the Teacher Challenges are continuing. I’m going to be sharing your information with beginner blogging teachers this week and want to be sure they are getting the latest information. On the main Teacher Challenge page, are these new posts linked as a category? Will they replace the “Kick Start your Blogging” series?

    • Marie,
      The ‘Kick start your blogging’ was more for teachers to set up their own personal blog. Then we ran ‘Blogging with your students’ which was more about looking at internet safety, blogging guidelines and so on as well as setting up students as authors on your class blog. This set of challenges now ‘Class blog activities’ are more to get your class blog ready to take part in the “Student Blogging Challenge” which begins in September. To find out more about the Student Blogging Challenge, which had over 1400 students and 120 classes taking part in March, visit this link.

  4. I had a harder time with this challenge because I haven’t really posted too much. School isn’t set to start for 2 weeks, so I don’t have pictures or a clear idea of what I want to use this blog for. I know I want my students to be able to learn to use a blog as well as to write about things that are important to them. I guess I will just learn along with them. I think they will find navigating the dashboard to be fairly simple, as long as they have a purpose. That’s what I’m looking for- a purpose for this blog.

    • I have a similar concern. I’m starting in a new position and have not yet received the new curriculum (it has to be board approved), so I am not sure exactly what topics or approach to take. Meanwhile,to get practice and to begin making connections, I am posting topics of interest to me as a teacher.

      I am thinking of creating a professional blog for myself and once my students and I have a purpose for the class blog, I will make a special post inviting current readers to continue reading my teacher-related posts with a link to the new blog.

      • Now that I have received my curriculum, I have a clearer picture of how we can use this blog. I’d like the students to post their own happenings, but they may not have the time–we only have 22 days per session! If they cannot make posts, I will, to showcase their learning.

  5. When I go to “Appearance”, I only can see “Themes”, “Widgets” and “Menus”; I can’t see “Header” or “Background”

    • Hi Ms. Griffin,

      So glad you are enjoying this! To select font sizes and colors, you’ll need to be writing a new post/page or editing your post/page. From here, to change the font size and boldness, there are several different Headings to choose from. It’s under where you’d choose Bold or Italics. It might currently say, “Format.”

      To change the color, choose the color you’d like from the selection under the “A”.

      Does that help?

      Kind regards,
      Tracy

    • G’day Ms Griffin,
      When you go into your post dashboard you will normally have one line of icons at the top. You actually have a second row that is hidden. Hover over the first row, and the icon at the right hand end is called ‘The Kitchen SInk’. Click on this and you will then be able to change font colours as well as upload Word documents etc.

  6. I like the simple look of my blog. Later I might choose to customize it with a header and different background, but for now I think it makes it easier for my students to navigate when they don’t have too much to look at!

  7. I am so excited for this year’s blogging challenge! I have changed my blog theme several times and am finally happy with it. I also went through and added widgits that I didn’t have.

  8. Because I placed control of the blog in my students hands, I am a bit unsure about how to proceed into this new school year. Do I remove the students names as authors from last year, or leave them so that if they choose to come back and make a post they have the ability to do so? I haven’t really had the new class start blogging yet, but soon…. :)

    visit our blog: http://rollefstadap.edublogs.org/

    • G’day Rollefstad,
      I just checked out your blog and noticed some of the comments that have been approved are actually spam. For example women’s handbags or shoes or Nike shoes or researchpapers or financial deals – these comments are often there for students to click on a link which takes them to a page where they are asked to buy something. If a comment doesn’t relate to the topic in the post, then it could be spam or trash.

  9. I am enjoying the videos and pictures with step by step instructions. I feel like my page is starting to Look like I want it. Now I am ready to start adding content.

  10. Pingback: Chausse Creative Writing » Blog Archive » Setting up your Blog

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