Activity 5: Working with Widgets – What you need to know

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Welcome to our free professional development series on class and student blogging!

This series consists of a range of activities that take you through the process of class and student blogging. While many of the class blog examples we’ve included are from primary grades, the same principles apply for class blogs regardless of student age (including adult learners).


The activities can be completed at your own pace and in any order!

The aim of this activity is to show you how widgets are used on class blog and to introduce you to the commonly used class blog widgets.

Click on a link below to go to the section you want to work on:

  1. What are widgets?
  2. How widgets are used on class blogs
  3. Examples of widgets on class blogs
  4. How to add a widget
  5. How to remove a widget
  6. Overview of Available widgets
  7. Adding widgets using embed code in text widgets
  8. Commonly used visitor tracking widgets
  9. Using link widgets on class blogs
  10. Commonly asked questions about widgets
    1. I’m having trouble removing a widget
  11. What now?


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What are widgets?

The term widget refers to any tool or content that you add, arrange or remove from the sidebar(s) of your blog — these are the blocks that make up your sidebar.

 


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How widgets are used on class blogs

Widgets are used for a wide range of purposes including:

  • Help students, parents and visitors find information on the blog e.g. Search widget, pages widget, category widget, tag widget (learn more about categories and tags here)
  • Track visitors to the blog.  Visitor tracking widgets are used to highlight a blog’s global audience.  This can be incredibly motivating for students and provides a built in geography lesson.  e.g. ClustrMaps, Flag Counter,  Feedjit Live Traffic Feed
  • Student engagement e.g. Quiz widgets, Pet widgets
  • Links to helpful resources, student blogs and other class blogs e.g. Links widget
  • Events Calendar for important dates e.g. Google Calendar
  • Book lists e.g. Shelfari bookshelf
  • Email notification of new posts e.g. email subscription widget
  • Displaying comments or posts recently posted e.g recent comments widget, recent posts widget


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Examples of widgets on class blogs

Check out these class blogs to see how widgets are used:

  1. Kindergarten Duckling - Kindergarten
  2. Mrs K’s Class - Grade 1
  3. WPPS Grade 1 2012 - Grade 1
  4. Look What’s Happening in Room 102! - Grade 1/2
  5. 2KM and 2KJ @ Leopold Primary School - Grade 2
  6. Mr Salsich’s Class - Grade 3
  7. Mrs Yoliis’ Classroom blog – Grade 3
  8. Mr Baldock’s Class blog – Grade 3/4
  9. Grade 3/4 at Napoleons Primary School - Grade 3/4
  10. Jade J Year 3/4 Multiage - Grade 3/4
  11. 4KM and 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School - Grade 4
  12. The Hobloggers Network – Grade 4
  13. Room 2.1 – Grade 4/5
  14. The Skinny – Grade 5
  15. Grade 5 at Napoleons Primary School - Grade 5
  16. Welcome to MRJ’s Mount Olympus - Grade 5
  17. Learing2gether - Grade 5
  18. 6G and 5/6Cs Blog – Grade 5/6
  19. Year 6 at Penbank – Grade 6
  20. Mr. Miller’s Classroom Blog - Grade 6
  21. Huzzah – Grade 6/7
  22. Krebs’ Class Blogs - Grade 7/8


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How to add widgets

Adding a widget is as simple as follows:

1.  Go to Appearance > Widget.

2.  Click on the arrow on the desired Sidebar to open up the sidebar (so you can add the widgets).

3.  Drag the widget from the Available Widgets into the desired Sidebar.

You drag by click on the widget with your left mouse and moving the widget.

4.  Drop the widget when you see a dashed line appear – this indicates the widget is in place.

 

5.  The widget will automatically open — just configure, click Save and then Close.


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How to remove widgets

Removing a widget is as simple as:

1.  Go to Appearance > Widget.

2.  Click on the small arrow on the right hand side of the widget you want to remove.

3.  Click Delete.

This returns the widget to the Inactive Widget area.

 


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Overview of Available widgets

Here’s a summary of the main widgets you’ll find in your dashboard and what they are used for:

Archives Used to organise your previously published posts by month.  Handy for readers who want to browser for older content  To save space change the configuration to ‘Display as a dropdown’
Blog Avatar Used to display your blog avatar (uploaded via Settings > Blog Avatar).
Calendar Displays links to your posts by date on a calendar  Can’t be used as an Events calendar.
ClustrMaps A simple widget for quickly adding a ClustrMaps to your blog sidebarAdded when the Widget plugin is activated in Plugins.
Custom Menu Allows you to display pages, categories, and custom links with a single widget.  To use you first need to set up your custom menu in Appearance > Menu.
Email Subscriptions A simple widget for adding email subscription to your blog.Used to notify readers of your latest posts by email.
Links Used to display a list of links in your sidebar.  Commonly used to share your favourite blogs or websites with your readers.
Meta Simple widget for easy log in and log out of your blog, to access your dashboard and to locate your RSS feed.
Pages Displays a list of your pages in the sidebar.  Commonly used for themes that don’t have page links in the top navigation.
Recent Comments Displays the most recent comments left on your blog by readers.
Recent Posts Displays the most recent posts you have published.  Makes it easier for readers to see what’s new on your blog.
Search Adds a search box to your sidebar. Makes it easier for readers to search the contents of your blog.
 Tag cloud Adds a search box to your sidebar.  Makes it easier for readers to search the contents of your blog.
 Text Allows you to add text or embed code to your sidebar.  It’s the most useful widget because you can use it to add content from other sources to your sidebar using their embed code.

Some widgets are also added to your widget area when you activate plugins.


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Adding widgets using embed code in text widgets

You can add any other widgets you find on the Internet by pasting their embed code into a text widget in your sidebar.

This is how you add widgets from WidgetBox, Voki, Shelfari BookshelfFlag Counter,  Feedjit Live Traffic Feed, Google Calendar and so on!

It’s as simple as:

1.  Grab the embed code for the widget you want to add.

2.  Go to Appearance > Widgets.

3.  Drag a text widget into your sidebar.

4.  Paste the embed code into the text widget.

5.  Click Save and Close.

6.  You should now see the widget in your sidebar.


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Commonly used visitor tracking widgets

Visitor tracking widgets are popular on class blogs because:

  • Knowing you’re writing for a global audience is incredibly motivating for students.
  • Realizing people from other countries are reading what they’ve written increases students’ interest, excitement and motives them to blog.
  • It also provides built-in geography lessons — most students constantly check for new visitors and enjoy finding out more about the countries where their visitors are from.

It’s quite common to see class blogs use more than one visitor tracking widget as each widget provides different information about visitors to the blog.

Here’s a quick overview of the most commonly used visitor tracking widgets on class blogs:

ClustrMaps ClustrMaps is a thumbnail hit counter map widget that shows the geographical location of all visitors to your blog. Number of visitors from a location is indicated by the relative size of the dot.  Clicking the ClustrMaps thumbnail takes you to a large World map so you can examine your traffic sources more closely.Here’s detailed instructions on how to add a ClustrMaps using the ClustrMaps widget.
 Flag Counter Flag Counter widget shows the total number of visitors from each country next to the country’s flag. Every time someone from a new country visits your site, a new flag will be added to your counter.  Clicking on the flag counter takes you to your Flag counter page which provides more detailed charts and information about your visitors.
 Feedjit Feedjit Live Traffic Feed displays visitors to your blog in real time and includes: Which city and country your visitors are in; Which website they arrived from, if any; Which page they visited on your website; Which external link they clicked to leave your site, if anyYour traffic feed is updated as each visitor arrives on your site. This update occurs before it loads so each of your visitors can see their own location displayed.Clicking on the Feedjit Live Traffic counter takes you to your Live traffic page which provides more detailed information including the countries associated with web visitors’ IP addresses, the web browser, computer operating system, and referring website.
Feedjit Live Traffic Map Feedjit Live Traffic Map displays real-time visitor tracking by showing the geographic locations of the last 100 visitors to your blog. If you move your mouse over any point on the map the city and country for that visitor will be displayed.  Clicking on the Feedjit Live Traffic Map takes you to your Live Traffic Map page which provides more detailed information.


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Using link widgets on class blogs

Links widgets are commonly used on a class blog to provide links to other class blogs, student blogs and resources— they are designed to help you, your students and others websites easily.

The most common type of link widget you’ll hear mentioned is a blogroll.  Bloggers commonly use blogrolls to list their favourite blogs.  Blogrolls help readers locate other blogs worth reading — you are saying “these are some blogs I like – which are worth checking out!”

Blogrolls on class blogs are used often used to provide links to student blogs or other class blogs they interact with.

Please note:

Here is how you create links to websites or blogs:

1.  Go to Links > Add New.

2.  Add the name of the website or blog to the Name Module.

3.  Add the URL to the Web Address module.

Best option is to copy/paste the URL from the address bar of your web browser – as you are less likely to make a mistake. 

4.  Select Blogroll in the Category Module or create a new Category then click Add Link.

You use different categories if you organise your links in different locations in your sidebars.  

Once you’ve created the links you add them to your sidebar by adding the Links widget (via Appearance > Widgets).

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Commonly asked we’re asked about widgets

Here’s answers to commonly asked questions we receive into Edublogs Support:

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1.  I’m trying to remove a widget and I can’t find it listed in my sidebar in Appearance > Widgets.  How do I remove it?

The most common reason why you may have trouble removing a widget, or see two of the same widget on a blog, is if  some of the widgets have been hard coded into the theme.  Any hard coded widgets can’t be removed.

NotePad Chaos is an example of a theme with hard coded widgets.  Pages, Categories, Links and a What is this Place are all coded into the theme.


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What now?

How did you go?

Have you started adding some widgets? Leave a comment below with a link to your blog and let us all take a look!

Also feel free to leave any questions you are having (or tips/advice) as well.

Or go to Activity 6: Helping parents and students connect with your class blog!

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9 thoughts on “Activity 5: Working with Widgets – What you need to know

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  6. How can I use or what can I add to my “what’s this place” part? Actually I don’t want to use this part but I think I have to!

    • Hi sedefkoc, sorry for the delayed replied :( Being very busy with the Edublog Awards. All you need to do is go to Pages > New page and publish a page title About. This is automatically feed into the What is this place on NotePad Chaos.

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  8. Hi there,
    I want to add a link to enable people to subscribe to my blog. I read about enabling email subscriptions but it suggests using the “email subscription” widget which I don’t seem to have. Do I have to upgrade to Pro to do this?
    Thanks,
    Jennifer

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