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Activity 3: Writing your first posts – What you need to know

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Welcome to our third 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 place and in any order!

The aim of this activity is to help you understand how posts are used on class blog and to teach you how to publish your first posts.

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

  1. Intro to posts and why are they used on class blogs
  2. Who writes posts on the class blog
  3. Examples of posts on class blogs
  4. How to write a post
    1. Introduction to visual editor
  5. Tips for writing better blog posts
    1. Use short paragraphs
    2. Use Headings
    3. Remember to link
    4. Using colored text
    5. Enhancing posts with images and other types of media
  6. Common questions we’re asked about posts
    1. My homepage has a message saying “Not found”   How do I get rid it and replace it with information?
    2. Is it possible to publish posts to different pages on my blog?
    3. How do you delete the Hello World post?
  7. What else did you want to know?


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Introduction to posts

Your posts are where you’ll publish your main content such as what’s been happening in class. assignment information, documents, and more.  They are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order with the most recent post at the top of the page.

By default, your home page is your blog post page and this is where you’ll see your new posts published.

If you look closely at a post you will see it is normally made up of:

  1. Post Title – tells the reader what the post is about.  A great post title grabs readers attention and is more likely to encourage them to read your post.
  2. Date published – all post display the date a post was published.  You’ll normally see this displayed at the top of the post.
  3. Written by – most themes display the name of the post author.  Your username is automatically displayed unless you’ve changed your display name.
  4. Your post content – this is the main information that you want to share or reflect on with your readers
  5. Comments – all themes have a link to comments.  This is where your readers can click to write a comment in response to your post.  Comments allow students, and other readers, to engage in discussions, share their thoughts and connect with your class blog.
  6. Tags - are used to help readers locate posts on your blog.  Tags are more like the index at the back of the book and explode the topic into a million bits.
  7. Categories - are used to help readers locate posts on your blog.  Categories are often used like chapters of a book; they provide a general overview of the topics you blog about.



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Who writes posts on the class blog

If you look closely at class blogs you’ll see on some blogs only the teacher publishes posts while on others both the teacher and students publish posts or the students publish posts on their own student blogs.

It’s really up to you which approach you use.

If you do decide you want your students to publish posts we recommend the best approach, regardless of student age, is to introduce blogging slowly in the following order:

  1. You write posts on the class blog.
  2. Students write comments in response to your posts (you focus on teaching them quality commenting skills).
  3. Students write posts on class blog or their own student blog.

We’ll show you how to teach quality commenting skills and how to add students to blogs so they can publish posts later in this professional development series on class blogging.

For now we’ll focus on teaching you how to write your first posts.

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Examples of posts on Class blogs

So what do you publish as posts on your class blog?  Pretty much anything you want to share with students, families and other educators you’ll publish as a post.  What’s been happening in class. student work, assignments. homework information, documents — there’s so much you can share!

Here’s some examples of first posts, or posts for the new school year, to check out for ideas:

Check out the class blogs from the Student Blogging Challenge for ideas of what they post about!

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To write a post all you need to do is:

1.  Go to Posts > Add New.

2.  Give your post a Title,  add your content, your tags and categories and when finished writing click Publish.

3.  Presto! Your post will now display on your blog so others can read!


 

Previewing your Draft

Before you publish your post it is a good idea to use the Preview option to see what it looks like to your readers.

You preview a post by clicking on Save Draft and then click Preview. This opens up a draft version of your post in a new tab.

Then just go back to your draft and make any changes you want!

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Introduction to your Visual Editor

The area where you write your post 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, number 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.



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Tips for writing better blog posts

Reading online is different from reading in a text book.

The easier and more engaging your posts are the more likely they’ll be read and the better your message will be conveyed.

Here’s some tips to help you write better posts on class blogs:

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1.  Use short paragraphs

Posts with really long paragraphs are harder to read online.

Best options are:

  • Break your posts up with paragraphs.
  • The more paragraphs the better.
  • Short paragraphs are better than long.
  • If you need to make some paragraphs one or two sentences long so they are visually easier to read online then do it if needed!
  • Make the first sentence of each paragraph make your readers want to read the rest of the paragraph.


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2.  Use Headings

Use headings, and where appropriate bullet points and number lists, to break up the post into manageable bit size chunks.

Creating a heading is as simple as:

  1. Highlight the text you want to change into a heading
  2. Select the Heading Style you want to apply from the advanced formatting toolbar (you access the advanced formatting toolbar by clicking on the Show/Hide Kitchen sink icon) – for most themes your best option is Heading 3
  3. Preview your post to make sure that headings you’ve used has broken your post into manageable chunks



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3.  Remember to Link

When you write about a website you should link to it as your readers often want to check it out in more detail.

Creating a link is as simple as:

  1. Highlight the text you want to link to a website, blog or post
  2. Click on the Insert/Edit Link icon in the standard formatting toolbar
  3. Paste the link URL
  4. Then click Add Link



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4.  Using colored text

While you’re less likely to use colored text in posts on a personal / professional blog it can engage students and draw attention to specific information on posts on a class blog.

You’ll see examples of it used in posts on 4KM and 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School and the Student Challenge blog.

Changing the color of text is as simple as:

  1. Highlight the text you want to change
  2. Select the text color you want to apply from the advanced formatting toolbar (you access the advanced formatting toolbar by clicking on the Show/Hide Kitchen sink icon)
  3. Preview your post to make sure the text is readable and you like the color



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5.  Enhancing posts with images and other types of media

When you look at class blog you’ll notice they enhance their posts with images and other types of media including videos and by embedding web tools.  We’ll show you how this is done later in this professional development series on class blogging.

However,  if you can’t wait and want to start now here is some information to get you going:

  1. The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons
  2. Inserting images into your posts
  3. Embedding videos from video sharing websites into posts
  4. Enhancing your posts by embedding media including slides, quizzes, comic strips, polls


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Common questions we’re asked about posts

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

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1.  My homepage has a message saying “Not found”   How do I get rid of it and replace with information?

The Not Found message is because the home page is your blog post page and this message it means you’ve deleted all posts or changed them to draft mode so there is no content that it can display.

All you need to do is go to Posts > Add New and publish a new post.

Once the new post is published you’ll see it displayed on your homepage.

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2.  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.

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3.  How do you delete the Hello World post?

Every newly created blog is the same default lay out with posts displayed on its home page with a ‘Hello World’ post and an ‘Sample’ page.

You can delete this post at any time by going to Posts > All Posts.  

Hovering your mouse over the title of  the Hello post brings up four action links.

Now just click on Trash.  This sends it to your Trash folder where it is permanently deleted within 30 days of when you trashed it.

Remember if you delete all posts, and your homepage is your blog post page, you will see a “Not Found” message.   To remove that message you just need to publish a  new post by going to Posts > Add New.

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What now?

How did you go?  We hope this has helped get your posts started and the information has helped!

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 4: Writing comments – What you need to know!

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8 comments for “Activity 3: Writing your first posts – What you need to know

  1. wati
    December 18, 2013 at 12:56 am

    thanks for your information.
    please visit in my blog.. this is my blog http://watikiki.blogspot.com/
    thanks

  2. Mr. Cullinane
    October 20, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Hi,

    I would like to have my students to ONLY be able to comment on my blog and post on theirs. Right now, they’re able to post on my blog (the teacher’s), and many are accidentally doing that. How can I switch my settings so they can comment on my posts and post on their blogs that I can read?

    Also, is there a way that my students in the class can read each other’s posts and comment on them?

    • October 20, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Hi, I’ve checked your My Class > Settings and you need to change it to “No – use if you want them to publish posts on their student blog” otherwise some students will be confused and publish posts (Posts > Add New) on the class blog instead of their student blog which is what has been happening.

      Students are already able to read each other’s posts and comment on them however you need to make it easy for them to find each others blogs by adding the Class blog widget to the sidebar via Appearance > Widgets (see attached screenshot for the configuration settings you need to use). Once added the students can use the links to each others blogs to read their posts. Since you are using the password privacy option the students will need to add the password each time they visit another student blog URL.

      You’ll find more information on using My Class here – http://theedublogger.com/2013/10/03/create-and-manage-student-blogs/

      Feel free to contact us directly at Edublogs support (support@edublogs,org) if you need further assistance.

  3. mrshunau
    September 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    I’ve created a main menu with my pages on it, created categories with the pages from the main menu, and I’m creating posts with the category checked for the page I want the post to go to, but it goes to some weird place and not under the page for the category I’ve selected. What am I doing wrong?

  4. profchristina
    June 28, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Hi…On our class page, I want my students to be able to write posts as well as leave comments. How can I do this? Do they have to email their posts to me and then I as the owner of the page post them up, or is there a way to have them post directly? Thanks, Christina

    • August 6, 2013 at 7:10 am

      Hi Christina,
      Students need to have a user role as contributor on your blog to write a post that you then publish, or you can give students author roles where they can then write and publish their own posts.

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