Welcome to the second post in 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 help you understand how pages are used on class blog and you will learn how to create some pages on your class blog.
Click on a link below to go to the section of this activity you want to work on:
- Why you need an About page
- Examples of Class blog ‘About’ pages
- Create your About page
- Why have blogging rules and guidelines
- Examples of Class blog ‘Blogging Guidelines’
- Create your Blogging Guidelines page
- Making contact easy using a Contact page
- Examples of Class blog ‘Contact’ pages
- Other types of pages used on Class blogs
- Setting up the links to your pages
- Commonly asked questions about pages
- What now?
Why you need an About page
You never know how someone might find your blog – google search, twitter, facebook, or a link from somewhere else.
One of the first things a new visitor looks for is your ‘About’ page.
The reasons for having an About page on a Class blog include:
- To provide information for your students, parents and families about the purpose of your class blog and how to use it.
- To help your class connect with other classes in other locations and countries.
Below’s the type of information you might include on your About page:
|For students and parents||To connect with other classes|
Check out the About pages on the following class blogs for ideas:
- Classroom 2 Kids (Grade 2)
- Mr Salsich’s Class (Grade 3)
- 4KM And 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School (Grade 4)
- Mr Toft.ca (Grade 5)
- Huzzah ( Grade 6/7)
Create your About page
All newly created blogs come with a ‘Sample page‘ created. All you need to do is edit the ‘Sample page’ to change it into your About page
Here’s how you create your About page:
1. Go to Pages > All Pages.
2. Hover your mouse over the Sample Page title to bring up the action menus.
3. Now click on Edit.
4. Change the title of your page from Sample Page to About page.
5. Edit the permalink to change it to about.
6. Now just add your about information and when finished click Update.
Overview of your Visual Editor
The area where you write your pages and posts is by default in Visual Editing mode which uses WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) option for formating.
It works similar to any Word processing software.
Simply write your post, highlight any text you want to format, and then click the appropriate button in the toolbar to add formating such as bold, italics, or a numbered list.
The Show/Hide Kitchen Sink button is used to view the advanced formating options including heading styles, underlining, font color, custom characters, undo, redo.
Why have blogging rules and guidelines
An important part of using an online tool with students is educating them on appropriate online behavior. Just because your students grew up with technology doesn’t mean they appreciate or understand what is/isn’t appropriate to post online.
Your class blog provides an excellent opportunity to educate students, parents and other readers on proper online behavior such as:
- Types of identifying information that is appropriate in posts and/or comments such as ‘What are your rules about use of last names, IM, images and personal information?’
- What should/shouldn’t you write in posts and/or comments?
Some guidelines may be specific to your school and your school policies. So be sure to check your school’s policies and make sure they are included – especially when it comes to using student names and photos on a public blog.
Creating your blogging rules and guidelines is something you can do yourself or or as a whole of class activity. Getting students to be part of a collaborative discussion on guidelines gives students more ownership of the guidelines and a better understanding of what is required.
If you want to include Online Safety activities as part of the process then, Larry Ferlazzo’s The Best Sites For Learning Online Safety post is a good starting place to identify suitable resources.
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Check out the Blogging Guidelines on the following class blogs for ideas:
- Mr. Salsich’s Class Blog Guidelines (Grade 3)
- 4KM And 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School’s Blogging Guidelines (Grade 4)
- Grade 5 at Napoleons Primary School blog’s Guidelines (Grade 5)
- Huzzah’s Commenting Guidelines (Grade 5/6)
- 6G and 5/6Cs Blog’s Guidelines (Grade 5/6)
- Blogging Around the World’s Guidelines (Grade 6)
- Mr. M’s History Blog Posting Comments (Grade 8 )
- Brilliant Muskie Blog’s Blogging Guidelines (Grade 8 )
- Scattergood Biology How To Post and Comment
- Biology in Action Blogging Guidelines (High School and College)
Create your Blogging Guidelines page
Once you’ve decided what you want to include in your rules and guidelines it is now just a case of publishing them on your blog as follows:
1. Go to Pages > Add New.
2. Now just give your page a title, add your content and click Publish.
Making Contact Easy
Those that visit your blog might also have a need to contact you. This makes it easier for parents to contact you and for other classes to connect with you.
Many teachers choose to create an entirely separate “Contact” page to go with the “About” page.
Here are some tips to consider:
- It’s best not to put your email address on your blog. A contact form (using a contact or form plugin) is better as it protects you email address from spammers.
- If you do want to provide your email, use text and something like support (at) edublogs (dot) org or an image of your email address to make it hard for spammers to pull your email address. Here’s an email icon generator you can use.
- Home phone numbers are probably not something you want to share as well – but perhaps a classroom phone number is.
Other things to share might include facebook, twitter, or other social media profile information. Some of these are also shared by adding widgets to your class blog. We’ll show you how this is done with widgets in Activity 5 of this professional development series on class blogging.
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Here’s class blog Contact pages for ideas:
- Using Contact Form plugin – Huzzah’s Contact page, Mr Salsich’s Contact page
- Using Formidable Pro plugin – Online Safety’s Contact page, Biologist’s Contact page
- Page – The Skinny’s Contact Page
Create your Contact page
Once you’ve decided what you want to include on your contact page, and if you want to use a contact form, it is just a case creating a contact page.
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Here’s how to create a contact page using the Contact form plugin:
1. Go to Plugins.
2. Activate the Contact Form plugin.
3. Go To Settings > Contact Form.
4. Add your email address and click Update Options.
5. Go to Pages > Add New.
6. Now just give your page a title, add your content, the contact form code and click Publish.
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Here’s how to create a contact page using the Formidable Pro plugin:
1. Go to Plugins.
2. Activate the Formidable Pro plugin.
3. Go to Formidable > Forms.
4. Click on Add New, select Contact Us and then Create.
5. Hover your mouse over the Captcha field, now click Trash to delete it.
6. Now just edit the contact form to customise it to your needs.
- The * next to a field means this is required information to submit the form.
- Clicking on the * changes it to not required
- Clicking on the Title allows you to edit the name.
7. You can update the email address by clicking on Settings > Emails.
8. Once you’ve made all changes click Update.
9. Now go back to Formidable > Forms and grab your Contact Us shortcode.
10. Go to Pages > Add New.
11. Add a page title, your content, the Contact Us shortcode and click Publish.
Other types of pages used on Class blogs
There’s lot of different types of pages you can add to class blogs.
The main things to remember are:
- Pages are best suited for information you rarely update such as your About, Contact and Blogging Guidelines pages.
- Situations where you want students to discuss a question or topic are better suited to publish as a post and not a page.
- Assignment and homework information is normally best published as posts and not on a page.
- Too many pages can make information harder to manage and find.
We’ll show you how to use posts in our next post in this professional development series on class blogging.
Other types of pages used on class blogs include:
- How to comment – Grade 5 at Napoleons Primary School How to Comment, Mr. Salsich’s How to comment, Mrs Yollis’s How to comment video, Scattergood Biology How to Post & Comment
- Resource links – Mr. Salsich’s Learning Links
- Events Calendar – Butler Bulldogs@ Bell Homework and Events Calendar
Setting up the links to your pages
Some themes automatically add a link to pages in their top navigation while on other themes you need to add a pages widget or set up a custom menu to add the page links.
Personally I prefer to set up my top navigation using a custom menu as links in the top navigation are easier for readers and it allows you to customise the links considerably more.
Here’s how to set up your top navigation using a custom menu:
1. Go to Appearance > Menus
2. Give your menu a name – ‘Main’ will work great!
3. Click on the ‘Create Menu‘
4. Now just select the pages you want to add to your menu then click Add To Menu.
5. Now create a custom link for home by adding your blog URL, the name Home and click Add To Menu.
- When readers click on the Home link they will be taken to your front page.
- For example the blog URL of this blog is http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/
- You can use custom links to link to any website — which is really handy!
Here’s what my menu now looks like:
6. Now drag/drop the menu items to change their order in your menu.
Here’s what my new order looks like:
7. Once you’ve finished changing the order click Save Menu.
8. Now to display your new top navigation on your blog you just need to select Main from under the Primary Navigation drop down menu and then click Save.
Here’s some other cool tricks when setting up custom menus:
1. You can create nested pages by indenting items in the menu.
If you hover your mouse over About in the top navigation of this blog you’ll see two nested pages underneath the about link.
2. You can create static level tabs using a custom link if you just want a link name that doesn’t go to a page that exists.
For example, if you click on About in the top menu of this blog you’ll see it is a static level tab used just as a placeholder for page links we’ve added underneath it.
Well show you other cool stuff you can do with custom menus in our next post in this professional development series on class blogging.
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Common questions we’re asked about pages
Here’s answers to commonly asked questions we receive into Edublogs Support:
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1. How do you disable comments on pages?
Most Edublogs themes support comments on pages and by default comments are enabled on pages.
You can disable comments on pages using Quick Edit as follows:
1. Go to to Pages > All Pages
2. Locate the post or page you want to disable comments on
3. Hover over it’s title to bring up it’s action menu.
4. Click on Quick Edit, deselect ‘Allow Comments’ and then click on Update.
2. Why won’t comments display on pages?
Most Edublogs themes now support comments on pages however there are a few themes that don’t.
If the theme you are using doesn’t support comments on pages, and you would like this feature, then you will need to use an alternative theme.
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3. Is it possible to publish posts to different pages on my blog?
We’re often asked if it is possible to add posts to other pages, rather than just the front page of the blog. This is commonly asked by educators who want to use one blog for multiple classes or subjects.
And yes you can! But it does involve slightly advanced blogging skills.
You do it by sending posts to different pages on your blog by assigning different categories to posts, based on the class or subject, and using a custom menu to create link to the categories from your top navigation. When students and parents click on their category they’re taken to all the posts for that class or subject.
You can see it in action on CES Music Blog. If you hover your mouse over Music Classes it displays links to the different Grades and all you need to do is click on a Grade to view all posts published for that grade. For example, here are all the posts for Grade 5.
You’ll find step by step instructions on using categories to organize multiple classes or subjects on your blog here.
It does involve slightly advanced blogging skills — so leave a comment or email us at Edublogs Support if you need our assistance.
Now it is time for you to write your About page. However, if you don’t feel comfortable about writing personal stuff about yourself yet — then we recommend you focus on writing another type of page.
One idea would be to create a new Page with a list of helpful resources you would like to share with others.
Once you have written your About page or Contact page come back to this post and leave a link to the page you have created so that others can check it out!