Activity 10: Setting up your student blogs

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!

Wherever you’re at – we’ll step you through the tasks designed to increase your skills while providing mentors who’ll support your learning.  Don’t stress, have fun, and remember to ask for help by leaving a comment any time you need assistance!

This activity is is all setting up your student blogs.

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

  1. Why educators use student blogs
  2. Examples of student blogs
  3. Tips for creating student blogs
    1. Student usernames and blog URLs
    2. Add yourself to your student blogs
    3. Moderate Comments
  4. Create your student blogs
    1. Get students to create their own blogs and join your class
    2. Create your student blogs yourself
  5. Other My Class Tips
    1. Add links to blogs in sidebar
  6. What Now?


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Why educators use student blogs

Educators normally start of with a class blog where they write the posts, and the students respond by writing comments.

This gives the  teacher time to increase their skills while gradually introducing their students to blogging and educating them on appropriate online behaviour.

However, as student’s age increases educators are more likely to have them to write posts on their own student blog.

Student learning and writing improves faster when each student has their own blog as ownership is an important part of blogging.  We all have increased motivation when we feel personal ownership.  So you generally find students are more motivated by their own blogs when class blogging is done well.

Another key benefit of student blogs are they can be used as their ePortfolio to create an archive of your student’s learning.

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Examples of Student blogs

Here are examples of real student blogs to check out for ideas:

  1. Millie’s Magical Blog -  8 years old
  2. Abi’s Blog – 9 years old
  3. Jarrod’s Aweome Blog – 9 years old
  4. BB’s Awesome Blog – 9 years old
  5. Jaden’s Awesome Blog – 9 years old
  6. Mirian’s Magical Moments – 10 years old
  7. Teagan’s Terrific Blog - 12 years old
  8. This and That


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Tips for creating student blogs

You can use any blogging platform you would like including Edublogs, WordPress and Blogger, however when we write detailed instructions they will refer to Edublogs.  You will be able to adapt this information to the blogging platform you are using.

Here is some important things to consider before creating your student blog:

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1. Student Usernames and Blog URLs

Educators normally use the same name for both the student’s username and blog URL.  Keep them simple and easy for the student to remember.

Most 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 misty16 or mistybp16.  For example, username mistybp16 and blog URL mistybp16.edublogs.org.

If you want the students to use the blog for their entire school life then use a combination of letters combined with a number that represents the year they started school or are finishing school.

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2.  Add yourself to  your student blogs

Always add yourself as an administrator to your student blog.

This means if you need to edit/delete a post, page or comment you can quickly access their blog from your blog dashboard.

We’ll show you how to do this using My Class tool below.

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3. Moderate Comments

Educators either prefer to let their students moderate their own comments or they moderate all the comments for their students.  There are pros and cons to each approach.

For those comfortable with students moderating comments we recommend you subscribe to the comment feeds from your student blogs — here is how to subscribe to their comments using Google Reader.

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Create your Student blogs

Now you’ve done all the research it’s time to create your student blogs!

The easiest way to set up and manage all student blogs is using My Class.

My Class can be used to:

  1. Quickly create student blogs.
  2. Allow students to publish their own posts on their student blogs (and the class blog) OR configure it so all student posts must be reviewed by a teacher.
  3. Control comment moderation settings on student blogs.
  4. Control the privacy settings on all student blogs with just one click!
  5. Quickly enable extra features on student blogs to increase their storage space, enable mobile blogging, allow them to embed any code, access Premium themes and so much more.
  6. Quickly preview all moderated posts and comments in one location.


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To get started you just need to Create a Class as follows:

1.  Go to My Class > Create a Class.

2.  Select ‘This is a class blog’, choose your settings and click Save.

Below are the settings you need to use if you want to moderate all posts and comments on student blogs.

You can read more about the My Class setting options here.

3.  Once you’ve created your class there are two options for creating student blogs:

  1. You create the student blogs using My Class >  Create Student blogs
  2. Students to create their own blogs using the Edublogs sign up page


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How to create Student blogs using My Class

Here’s how you can create the students blogs yourself using My Class:

1.  Go to My Class >  Create Student blogs.

2.  Add username, email address, password (optional), blog URL and blog title then click Submit.

This creates their student blogs, adds them as a user to the class blog, adds you as a user to their student blog and connects their student blog with the class blog. 

3.  The student blogs are created and all student blogs are listed in My Class > Student blogs where you manage all pending posts and comments.



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How students create their own blog and join your Class

Here are the instructions you need to give to students to create their own blogs:

1. Go to Edublogs.org sign up page

2. Enter your details, your blog details and then click Start blogging

3.  On the next page your login details are displayed.

4.  When you click on Login into your new blog you’re taken to your blog dashboard.

  • Make sure you write down your password if you use our no email option otherwise you won’t be able to reset it.

5.  Log into their blog dashboard and go to My Class > Join Class.

6.  Search for your class blog.

7.  Click on Send a request to join.

Now all you need to do is go to My Class > Student blogs inside your Class blog and click Approve.

Once you’ve done this all your student blogs will be listed on this page where you’ll be able to view all pending posts, pages and comments on your My Class > Student blogs page.



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Other My Class tips

Other features included in My Class include:

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1.  Easily link to all student blogs in every blog sidebar

You can easily add a link to all your student blogs using the Class Blog widget as follows:

1.  Go to Appearance > Widgets.

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

3.  Drag the Class Blog 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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You’ll find more information on my Class here:

  1. Create a Class using “My Class” tool
  2. How do students create their own blog and join a Class?
  3. How do I create student blogs using My Class?
  4. How do students add an existing blog to a Class?
  5. How do I add students as users to a Class?
  6. How do I change a student’s email address?
  7. Moderate Comments and Posts

What now?

How did you go?

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

This is the last activity in our series on class and student blogging.  We hope it helped!

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Activity 9: Connecting with other classes

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

This post is all about the value of connecting with other classes and  the types of projects educators use to develop global connections through blogging.

Why connect with other classes?

Connecting with other classes can have a huge impact on your class blog because:

  1. Your students benefit from having an authentic and global audience
  2. You gain from being supported by other educators — increasing your skills and developing new ideas that benefit your students

An authentic and global audience is important because:

  • When students are writing or publishing for an audience other the teacher, it impacts how they view what they doing and the intrinsic motivation they have.
  • Students love seeing their work on the Internet and adore getting comments from people. It motivates them to write as it gives them an audience that is real.  The blog opens up a whole new world of people who can offer encouragement and feedback.
  •  Blogging provides an authentic educational experience, where what they write is not only seen and commented on by their teacher, but by their peers and the “public.” For most students, it’s a bit of extra motivation knowing their peers will see their work.
  • There is an authentic audience – a global audience – one that is willing to connect, share, challenge, discuss and communicate with classes. This audience can provide further information, opinions, suggest resources, seek answers to questions and so on which pushes blogging further.
  • Provides real world problems and solutions to share.

Summarized from The State of Educational blogging in 2012.

Read how Kathleen Morris and Linda Yollis’s classes moved from isolated to integrated, irregular to frequent, and from the superficial to rich global collaboration through blogging.

How to get started?

There’s a wide range of options for connecting your class blogs (or student blogs) with other classes including:

Student Blogging Challenge

The Student Blogging Challenge runs twice yearly and is made up of a series of 10 weekly tasks all designed to improve blogging and commenting skills while connecting students with a global audience and being supported by a team of blogging mentors.

The Challenge is open to both class blogs and to individual student bloggers from all over the world and of all ages.  Participants can complete as many of the tasks as they like and in any order.

The next Student blogging challenge starts on 9 Sept.

You can register for the September 2012 Challenge using the following links:

  1. Register your class blog - for teachers to register their class blog
  2. Register your student blog – for students to register their personal student blog (optional)
  3. Register as a mentor – if you are an educator who would like to mentor a group of students.  Excellent for learning more about the blogging while supporting student bloggers.

QuadBlogging

QuadBlogging involves connecting your class to a Quad group of four schools/classes.

Each Quad team has a coordinator who is responsible for making sure each of the quad members know what is going on and when.  The Quad team rotates so that each week a different class blog is the focus of the task with the other three blogs visiting and commenting on that class blog during that week.

The next round of QuadBlogging is from Sept to December.

You can learn more and register here for QuadBlogging.

100 Word Challenge

The 100 Word Challenge is a weekly creative writing challenge for children under 16 years of age.

Each week a prompt is given, which can be a picture or a series of individual words and the children can use up to 100 words to write a creative piece. This is posted on a class blog and then linked to the 100 Word Challenge blog. The link is usually open from midnight on Wednesdays until midnight the following Tuesdays.

You can read more about the 100 Word Challenge here and sign up here.

Comments4kids

Comments4kids is a hashtag used by educators to tweet student posts that deserves to be commented on such as a post that is awesome or student that needs encouragement (learn more about Comment4 kids here).

Refer to The Twitteraholic’s Ultimate Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter to learn how you can use Twitter to connect with other classes.

What now?

How did you go?   Check out Kathleen Morris’s Connecting with Other Classes through blogging for more tips.

Feel free to leave any questions you are having or share your own tips and advice!

Or go to Activity 10: Setting up your student blogs!

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Activity 8: Cool tools for enhancing your posts

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 to use a range of online tools to enhance posts and pages.

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

  1. Why educators enhance posts with interactive tools
  2. List of tools to get you started
  3. How to embed media in blog posts
  4. Embed code tips
  5. What now?


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Why educators enhance posts with interactive tools

If you look closely at class blogs you’ll notice many of them add cool interactive tools to their blog post.

They do this because things like slides, videos, comic strips, quizzes, polls in blog posts grab attention, engage and create opportunities for interaction in ways not achievable using plain text and images.

There’s a gazillion online tools nowadays and most of them provide code that you can use to embed what you’ve found or created into your blog posts or pages.


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List of tools to get you started

Brainstorming Tools

  1. AnswerGarden – is a word cloud site that collects words and phrases.   Great for brainstorming, collecting ideas, feedback etc.  Read about using AnswerGarden with students here.  Check out this AnswerGarden embedded in a blog post or here’s another.
  2. Bubbl.us – used to create color brainstorms and mind maps. Here’s a bubbl.us in a student post
  3. Padlet - an online notice board creator.  It’s a really fast and easy way to create engaging activities to use with students.  Previously called “Wallwisher” which you can learn more about here.

Curation tools

  1. Livebinders – create online binders.  Learn more about using Livebinder with students here and read how Livebinder can be used on iPads here.
  2. Scoop.it - easily curate engaging magazines.  Here’s a Scoop-it embedded in a blog post and here.
  3. Storify – curate your own stories from photos, video, tweets, what people post on social media sites and your own narration.  Here’s a Storify in a blog post and how you can use it with students.

Comic and Cartoon Tools

  1. Bitstrips – here’s a BitStrop embedded in a blog post.  Learn more about Bitstrips with students here.
  2. ToonDoo – here’s a ToonDoo embedded in a blog post.  Learn more about using ToonDoo with students here.

Poll and Survey tools

  1. Google Forms - here’s how to create a self grading Quiz using Google docs
  2. PollDaddy – Here’s a PollDaddy embedded in a blog post.
  3. PollEverywhere

Presentation Tools

  1. AuthorStream -  - A site where you can host your presentations and share with others. Check out this Authorstream embedded in a blog post here!
  2. Fotobabble – lets  you create a talking photo.  Excellent for speaking practising.  Here is an example of a Fotobabble or check out links in comments here.
  3. Glogster – lets you combine images, video, music, photos and audio to create interactive posters.   Here’s a Glogster’s embedded in a blog post.  Learn more about using Glogster with students here.
  4. Google Docs
  5. Prezi – is an online presentation and story telling tool that uses a single canvas instead of traditional series of slides.  The images, text, videos and other objects are placed on the canvas and users can zoom in and out.  Here’s a Prezi embedded in a blog post.
  6. SlideShare – A site where you can host your presentations and share with others.  Ideal for those who want to embed Presentations in their posts and websites rather than upload their PowerPoints directly and insert as a link.  It’s also an excellent site for locating Presentations created by others.  Check out a SlideShare embedded in a blog post here!
  7. Scribd – allows you to upload your MS Word documents, PDFs, PowerPoints and then share them within an embedded viewer on your blog.  Here’s an example of a Scribd embedded in a blog post – check out the Scribd as it contains cool tips for backing up your blog!’
  8. VoiceThreads – Creates an interactive slideshow using images or videos.  Allows others to leave comments on each photo by adding text, audio or video.  You can check out the VoiceThread in our post for advanced bloggers.
  9. Voki – allows you to create talking avatars.  Excellent for speaking practise and engaging students.  Here’s a Voki embedded in a blog post.

Slide Show Tools

  1. BookR – Super easy slide show maker.
  2. Flickr – Flickr is a PhotoSharing website for hosting and sharing your photos online.   SlideShows of photo sets or tags can be embedded into blog posts.
  3. PhotoPeach – lets you quickly upload photos to make great looking slideshows and even simple quizzes. Here’s a PhotoPeach embedded in a blog post and here’s instructions for creating PhotoPeach quizzes.

Quiz Creation tools

  1. QuizRevolution – allows you to quickly create quizzes with images and/or videos.  Here’s a QuizRevolution embedded in a blog post.
  2. PhotoPeach – lets you quickly upload photos to make great looking slideshows and even simple quizzes. Here’s a PhotoPeach embedded in a blog post and here’s instructions for creating PhotoPeach quizzes.

Video Creation Tools

  1. Animoto – great site for quickly creating professional looking videos from your images.  Here’s an Animoto embedded in a blog post. Learn more about using Animoto with students here.
  2. xtranormal – lets you create 3D animated videos. Here’s an xtranormal embedded in a blog post.

Video Hosting Websites

Here’s some of the popular site used by educators who want to embed their videos within embedded players rather than uploading them directly to posts as links.

  1. MediaCore (and the MediaCore plugin on Edublogs)
  2. Blip TV
  3. Vimeo
  4. YouTube


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How to embed in blog posts

Adding embed code to posts or pages is as simple as:

1.   Completely write your post including adding title, text, images, tags and categories.

2.  Click on Save Draft.

3.  Click on Preview to previewed your post.

4.  Check your post and make all necessary edits.

5.  Locate the embed code for the media you created or want to embed.

  • Websites use a range of different icons to represent Embed code.
  • Look for icons like </>, the word Embed or hover your mouse over icons until you see the word Embed.
Below are examples of what you need do look for.

6.  Copy the embed code.

Below is an example of copying the embed code from a Voicethread.

7.  Click on HTML Tab on your blog post.

8.  Paste the embed code into your post where you want it to appear then click Publish.

9. Don’t click back to Visual Tab and close your post in HTML view.

  • Changing back to your Visual editing mode once you have added the embed code can remove or break the embed code.

10.  You should now see your embedded media when you view your post on your blog!

11.  Change back to Visual Editing mode when you write your next post by clicking on the Visual Tab.


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Embed code in blog posts

1. Use HTML editing mode

Never to click on the Visual Tab to change back to the visual editing mode once you have added the embed code.

This can break the embed code with some types of embeds.   If this happens it can cause your blog sidebar to be pushed to the bottom of your theme.

If you need to edit a  post that contains embed code make sure you change to HTML editing mode before opening up the post to edit.

The easiest way to do this is to:

  1. Go to Posts > Add New and click on the HTML tab.
  2. Close the post while still in the HTML tab and then go to Posts > All Posts to open the post for editing.


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2.  Changing embed size

Some embed code is designed to be embedded into normal websites and can be too wide for the width of blog post.

Ideal width for embedding for most blog themes is 450 pixels wide.

If the online tool doesn’t provide the ability to adjust the embed size you can often do this by editing the code yourself.   All you need to do is try adjusting the scale, width and/or height after you’ve added it to your post.


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What now?

How did you go?

What have you learnt about embedding media? 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 9: Connecting with other classes!

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Activity 7: Fair use, copyright, and introduction to using images

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 introduce you to the use of images and how to use them on class and student blogs.

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

  1. Introduction to copyright, fair use and using images in blog posts?
  2. Introduction to Creative Commons
    1. Creative Commons licenses
    2. Flickr Creative Commons images
    3. Searching and adding Creative Commons images to blog posts
    4. Creative commons and image attribution
  3. Adding images to blog posts using image location
  4. Uploading photos from your computer
  5. Online tools for creating your own images
  6. What now?


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Introduction to copyright, fair use and using images in blog posts

You can’t just use any image you like in a blog post.

Why?  Because unless stated otherwise, the law automatically grants full “copyright” over any creative work a person makes.

I’m sure you’re probably thinking it is okay because as educators, we have a few more flexible rules, called “Fair Use”, to play by.  Fair use, in some cases, if an image, text, video, etc. is being used for educational purposes, means you may have more flexible copyright rules.

The trouble is, most of the laws and rules that cover fair use and education were written well before the invention of the web.  They don’t apply to use of copyright material on the Internet.  Using copyright material leaves you open to copyright infringement.

So what does this mean?

You need to:

  1. Learn what images you are and aren’t allowed to use, and why.
  2. Learn how to attribute images you are allowed to use.
  3. Educate your students that you can’t just use any images off the Internet in their blog posts, show them how to source and attribute images they are allowed to use.

Understanding digital copyright is an essential skill we need to understand and teach our students.  This post focuses on use of images.

Refer to The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons for comprehensive information on the use of images, curriculum docs, text and quotes, music, videos.

The safest way to source images for blog posts is to either use your own photos, images you created or use Creative Commons images.

Here’s a list of websites you can use for sourcing images:

  1. Flickr Creative Commons images
  2. Creative Commons Search
  3. Findicon.com
  4. Open Clipart Library
  5. Morguefile
  6. StockVaul.net

Check out Joyce Valenza’s Comprehensive list of Copyright Friendly Image websites.


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Introduction to Creative Commons

Creative Commons, founded in 2001, is an organization which provides free content license known as a creative commons license that people can apply to their work.

When you license your work with creative commons, you are giving people the permission to use it without having to ask permission, provided they use it in the manner stated in your creative commons license.

The reason people use creative commons licenses is to make it easier for everyone to share and adapt creative work without the concern of copyright infringement.

Creative commons licenses are used for books, websites, blogs, photographs, films, videos, songs and other audio & visual recordings.

If an image, or website, doesn’t include a Creative Commons license then it automatically implies all content is the copyright and you shouldn’t use!

Please note:  there are a few websites that do provide free images that aren’t licensed under Creative Commons licenses — make sure you follow their terms and conditions of use.

For those wondering, unless a blogger includes a Creative Commons license, all content on that blog is automatically the copyright of the blogger.

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Creative Commons Licenses

There are several different types of Creative commons licenses people use depending on what restriction(s) they want to apply to their work.

For example,on the bottom right corner of the sidebar of The Edublogger you’ll see we license all content on the blog as “Attribution – Non-Commercial - Share Alike”.

That is fancy talk for letting you know that you are free to use anything on The Edublogger as long as you:

  1. give an attribution or credit that lets others know where you got the info with a link to The Edublogger,
  2. won’t profit in any way from using our content and use it for non-business purposes only, and
  3. anything you create with our content, you must use the same license.

Below’s a quick summary of the different types of Creative commons licenses:

Attribution CC BY

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), remix (to adapt the work) and use it for commercial purposes provided you attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

Attribution-NoDerivs

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work) and use it for commercial purposes provided you do not alter, transform or build upon the work and you attribute it in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike               

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work) and remix (to adapt the work) provided it isn’t used for commercial purposes, you attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor and you distribute it under the same license.

Attribution-ShareAlike               

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work) and remix (to adapt the work) and use it for commercial purposes provided if you alter, transform or build upon the work provided you distribute it under the similar license.  You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

Attribution-NonCommercial               

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work) and remix (to adapt the work) provided it isn’t used for commercial purposes.  You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs               

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work) provided you do not alter, transform or build upon the work or use it for commercial purposes and you attribute it in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

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Flickr Creative Commons images

One of the most common sources of Creative Commons images used by bloggers is Flickr (an online photo sharing website).

Unfortunately many assume Flickr images are licensed under creative commons and allowed to be used.  This isn’t the case.

Images marked as “All Rights Reserved” are copyrighted and require permission from the person who uploaded it to Flickr.  Images with “Some rights reserved” means the Flickr user has applied a Creative Commons license to their photo and you can use the image in the manner specified by the license.

If you look at images directly on Flickr always check to see which license applies to ensure you only use the image in the manner specified by the license.  Click on “Some rights reserved” to confirm which Creative Commons license applies.



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Finding Creative Commons images

The best option for finding Flickr Creative commons images is to use online tools such as:

  1. Compfight - great for fast searching.
  2. Flickr Blue Mountains
  3. Flickr Storm - ideal if you want to provide a selection of Flickr images on a specific topic for students to choose from.

Other sources of Creative Commons images include:

  1. Wikimedia Commons
  2. Search by Creative Commons
Check out Joyce Valenza’s comprehensive list of Copyright Friendly Images website list.

Searching and adding Creative commons images to blog posts

Refer to Kathleen Morris’s detailed instructions on how to search and add creative commons images to blog posts.

Kathleen created this guide for her students to provide step-by-step instructions on how to find images on FlickrCC and Wikimedia Commons and upload them, with attribution, to blog posts.

We recommend you download her Guide here to use with your students or read it directly within the embedded Scribd below:

Using Creative Commons Images From FlickrCC and Wikimedia Commons in Blog Posts


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Creative Commons and image attribution

It’s a requirement of all Creative Commons Licenses that you attribute the original author.  This means you can’t just use a creative commons image without acknowledging the person who originally created it.

Within or at the end your blog post you must attribute the image and you must link the photo back to it’s original photo page.

Here’s an example of image attribution:

Photo by Darwin Bell licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

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Here’s how to add an image to a blog post using image location:

1.  Right click on the image and select Copy image location.

2.  Click on Add Media icon.


3.  Click on From URL

4.  Paste the image location, add image title, Link Image to original photo location and click Insert into Post.

Please note:

  • Some School Districts block Flickr
  • If Flickr is blocked in your District you need to download the photo onto your computer and then upload it to your blog post.


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Uploading photos from digital cameras

Digital cameras are designed for printing good quality photos and not for uploading directly into blog posts.

A photo from a digital camera can be as large as 2.4 MB, it’ll unnecessarily use up blog storage space and takes longer to load your image compared to an image that is resized before uploading.

It’s really important to resize them before uploading to your blog post.

The best option is to resize the photo to:

  1. 450 pixels wide – if you want it to take up the full width of your post area
  2. 150-200 pixels – to left or right align the image with wrapped text

Here’s some tools you can use to resize your photos:

  1. InfraView – here’s how you do basic image editing using irfanView
  2. Picasa – here’s instructions on resizing your photos using Picasa
  3. Picture Manager – here’s detailed instructions on how to use Picture Manager
  4. PIXresizer – Here’s instructions for resizing images using PIXresizer.
  5. iPhoto

Uploading image to your blog post is as simple as:

1.  Click on Add Media icon.

2. In the Add Media window click on the Select Files button.

3.  Locate the images on your hard drive

Use your Shift or Crtl key to select more than one image.

4.  Click Open to start uploading the images.

5. While your images are uploading you will see a progress bar.

  • If you upload more than one image you will need to click on the Show link to edit the image details and insert an image into a post.

6.  Now all you need to do is:

  • Add a title for the image
  • choose how you want the image align (None, Left, Center or Right)
  • select size of image you want to insert (Thumbnail, Medium, Large or Full Size)
  • and then click Insert into Post


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Online tools for creating your own images

Other options for creating your own images include:

  1. Image Generators such as ImageGenerator.org
  2. Comic Generators like MakeBeliefsComix.com,  kerpoof, ToonDoo
  3. Photo Editors like Befunky, fd’s Flickr Tools
  4. Tag Cloud Creators such as Wordle
  5. Graph Creators including GraphJam and Crappy Graphs

Mixing up your images using these types of tools can really spice up your posts!


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What now?

How did you go?

What have your learnt about using images? 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 8: Cool tools for enhancing your blog posts!

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Activity 6: Helping parents and students connect with your class blog

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!

Helping parents and students connect with your class blog

Class blogs are an excellent way for parents to find out what is happening in class and what their child is learning.

As Kathleen Morris say’s “You can’t leave parent participation to chance. Parents needs to be educated and regularly encouraged and invited to be part of your class blog.”  If you want to get the most out of your class blog you need to help parent and students connect with and easily find your class blog.

But there’s nothing more frustrating trying to find your teacher’s website and not being able to find it — make it too hard and they’ll quickly give up.

What you need to do!

It’s quite common for educators new to blogging to assume their class blog is easily found using Google or that students will write the blog URL correctly in their notebook.  These aren’t good approaches and decrease the chances they will be able to find your class blog.

Experienced educators use several different methods to help parents and students:

  1. Understand what is a blog and how they can participate.
  2. Easily find the class blog.

Here are some ideas you can use!

1.  Give them a business card or magnet with your class blog URL

2.  Include the link to your class blog in School newsletter or weekly class newsletter.

3.  Post link to your class blog on your teacher website.

4.  Include your teacher’s name in the blog URL e.g. http://mrstinaschmidt.edublogs.org/

5.  Add a link to your class blog in your email signature.

6.  Create a QR Codes for your class blog URL

  • Great for creating a buzz
  • Can create the QR code for your blog at http://qrcode.kaywa.com/
  • Then send the QR Code home with instructions on how to use OR give them the QR code as a task for them to research what it is.

7.  Create detailed Parent handouts

Here’s an example of  2Km and 2KJ Blog information note designed to help parents know: what is a blog, the blog URL, why they blog and their safety guidelines.

Here’s 10 Steps to Navigating 2M and 2KJ blog for helping them understand blog jargon, subscribe to email notification, leave comments and so on.

8.  Have parent information nights.

9.  Set up email subscription so they are notified of new posts.

10.  Use custom shorten URLs for your class blog.

For more ideas check out:

  1. Kathleen Morris’s post on Helping parents connect with your class blog – it’s packed full of ideas you can try!
  2. How do I explain to students and parents how to find my class blog?

What now?

How did you go?

We would love to hear which you’ve decided to try!  Leave a comment below to let us know.

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

Or go to Activity 7: Fair use, copyright, and intro to using images!

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

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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Activity 4: Writing comments – What you need to know

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 on this activity is to explain how comments are used on class blogs and to provide tips for teaching students quality commenting skills.

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

  1. Why comments are important on class blogs
  2. How comments work
  3. Examples of comments on class blogs
  4. How to add a comment
  5. Teaching quality commenting
    1. Reasons why you should teach quality commenting
    2. How to teach quality commenting
    3. Activities for developing student commenting skills
  6. Commonly asked questions about comments
    1. How do you disable comments on pages
    2. Why won’t comments display on my pages?
    3. How do I make comments display on my homepage?
  7. What now?


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Why comments are important on class blogs

Comments are an important part of your class blog.  Comments allow students, and other readers, to engage in discussions, share their thoughts and connect with your class blog.  Transforming your blog from a static space to an interactive community.

Important parts of the blogging process include encouraging students to:

1. Read other students’ posts.
2. Comment on other students’ posts.
3. Write posts in response to other students’ posts.

It’s amazing how even just a few comments can make student realise they are writing for a global audience — for many it is incredibly motivating.

Discussions in comments are important for reflective learning .  Comments that challenge or suggest alternative options encourage you to reflect, revise, evaluate and review your thoughts.

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How comments work

By default, comments are enabled on all newly created blogs, and a comment form will appear at the bottom of posts and pages where readers can respond to what you’ve written.

Here’s what a comment form looks like:

Approved comments are displayed under the individual post or page. You just click on the post title or the comment link to read the comments.

Threaded comments allow readers to reply to other comments inline/nested which encourages better discussion and responses.



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Examples of comments on class blogs

Here’s examples of comments on class blogs to check out how educators use comments:

  1. Welcome to Grade 5 & 6 Guest post – AFL by Visha
  2. 4KM and 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School CAFE Strategy: Making Predictions
  3. 4KM and 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School Maldon Camp
  4. Room 5 Superstars Using technology to become reading superheros
  5. Room 24, 2012 Guest Post by Ashleigh – Friday Enrichment Programmes
  6. ELFADA Course Blog Using Images to make instructions more helpful

Here’s examples of comments on student blogs:

  1. BB’s Awesome blog Blue Light bike ed camp
  2. Skye’s Super Blog What is your favourite sport in the Olympics?


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How to add a comment

1. Click on the heading of the post you wish to comment on or the “comment” link at the top or at the bottom of the post.
2. Scroll down until you can see the “Leave a Comment” section
3. You will be asked for your name (you can use a nickname) and email address (this is not published)
4. You will also need to write the “spam word”
5. Click “submit comment”



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Teaching quality commenting skills

This following section on teaching quality commenting skills is adapted, with permission, from Kathleen Morris’s post.  

Kathleen teaches at Leopold Primary School in Australia. This is her fifth year blogging with students. Kathleen writes a blog for educators about technology integration, educational blogging and global collaboration ( @kathleen_morris ).   She was inspired to refine her teaching of commenting by the wonderful Linda Yollis and her third grade students.

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Reasons why you should teach quality commenting

If commenting skills are not taught and constantly reinforced, students will limit their comments to things like “I like your blog!” or “2KM is cool!”. While enthusiasm is high with these sorts of comments, students are not developing their literacy skills or having meaningful interactions with other members of the blogging community. Conversations in the comment section of a blog are such rich and meaningful learning experiences for students. Conversations begin with high quality comments.

Blogging is an authentic avenue for developing student literacy skills.   When you invest the time in teaching, modelling, revising and promoting high quality writing of comments, students can make great gains in their overall literacy development.

Check out improvements in student literacy skills through commenting here.

Set your standards high from the start and reap the rewards!

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How to teach quality commenting

Kathleen teaches commenting skills through:

  1. Modelling and composing comments together with students on the interactive whiteboard.
  2. Teaching students about the “letter” format and editing process during writing lessons.
  3. Giving examples of a poor/high quality comments and having students vote whether the comment should be accepted or rejected. Example of a Sorting blog comments activity devised for our students here.
  4. Having students read and comment on a post on our blog as part of a literacy rotation on the computer each week.
  5. Taking students to the ICT room once a week to work on composing a quality comment with a partner.
  6. Emailing parents and encouraging them to write comments on the blog with their child.

Kathleen and her team teacher partner, Kelly Jordan,  invests a lot of time focusing on teaching her students how to write ‘quality comments’ and helping students to understand what quality comments means.

Teaching quality commenting, with constant reinforcement, and setting high standards increases your students literacy skills which provide a good foundation for when you move them onto writing posts on the class blog or their own student blogs.

The strong emphasis on developing quality commenting skills is an important reason why teachers like Kathleen MorrisKelly Jordan and Linda Yollis achieve great results blogging with their students.

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Activities for developing student commenting skills

Here’s a list of ideas you can use to develop your student commenting skils:

  1. Create a commenting guideline poster (see poster example below) – develop your own or facilitate a collaborative discussion with students to create together (you could include this video as part of the process).
  2. Develop a quality comment evaluation guide.  Refer to Linda Yollis’s Learning how to comment.
  3. Write a blog post about commenting and what you define as a quality comment. Have your students practise leaving a “quality” comment on the post.
  4. Create a commenting guideline for your blog.  Here’s an example.

Here’s the quality comment guidelines Kathleen’s team teacher partner, Kelly Jordan, published as a poster that is displayed in their room.

You’ll find all their comment information for students and parents here!

  • Please remember if you use their poster or adapt someone else’s poster to use with permission and acknowledgement. 


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Common questions we’re asked about comments

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.



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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.  How do I make comments display on my homepage?

Traditionally comments are designed to be displayed under a post and you view the comments by clicking on the post title or the comments link. It is done this way because posts can have 100′s of comments and displaying them directly under a post on the post page can make it hard to read the content.

However, there are a few themes like P2 and ReTweet that display comments directly under posts on the blog post page. These types of themes work well where the posts are short; they work well for Discussion type blogs.

The alternative is to add the Recent Comments widget to the sidebar.


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What now?

How did you go?  We hope this has helped get your commenting 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 5: Working with Widgets – What you need to know!

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

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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Activity 2: Setting Up Pages – About, Blogging Guidelines and Contact

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:

  1. Why you need an About page
  2. Examples of Class blog ‘About’ pages
  3. Create your About page
    1. Introduction to the Visual Editor
  4. Why have blogging rules and guidelines
  5. Examples of Class blog ‘Blogging Guidelines’
  6. Create your Blogging Guidelines page
  7. Making contact easy using a Contact page
  8. Examples of Class blog ‘Contact’ pages
  9. Other types of pages used on Class blogs
  10. Setting up the links to your pages
  11. Commonly asked questions about pages
    1. How do you disable comments on pages
    2. Why won’t comments display on my pages?
    3. Is it possible to publish posts to different pages on my blog?
  12. What now?


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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:

  1. To provide information for your students,  parents and families about the purpose of your class blog and how to use it.
  2. 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
  • What is a blog
  • Reasons why you use a class blog
  • About the teacher(s)
  • How to connect with the blog such as subscribe to blog, comment on posts, guidelines for writing appropriate comments
  • Teacher(s) contact details
  • Country, state and town your class is located
  • Grade level, subject and age of students
  • The types of connections your class is interested in such as becoming blogging buddies, engaging in global projects
  • Type and size of school
  • Class or teacher contact details


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Check out the About pages on the following class blogs for ideas:

  1. Classroom 2 Kids (Grade 2)
  2. Mr Salsich’s Class (Grade 3)
  3. 4KM And 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School (Grade 4)
  4. Mr Toft.ca (Grade 5)
  5. Huzzah ( Grade 6/7)


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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.


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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.



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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:

  1. 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?’
  2. 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:

  1. Mr. Salsich’s Class Blog Guidelines (Grade 3)
  2. 4KM And 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School’s Blogging Guidelines (Grade 4)
  3. Grade 5 at Napoleons Primary School blog’s Guidelines (Grade 5)
  4. Huzzah’s Commenting Guidelines (Grade 5/6)
  5. 6G and 5/6Cs Blog’s Guidelines (Grade 5/6)
  6. Blogging Around the World’s Guidelines (Grade 6)
  7. Mr. M’s History Blog Posting Comments (Grade 8 )
  8. Brilliant Muskie Blog’s Blogging Guidelines (Grade 8 )
  9. Scattergood Biology How To Post and Comment
  10. Biology in Action Blogging Guidelines (High School and College)


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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.



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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:

  1. Using Contact Form plugin – Huzzah’s Contact page, Mr Salsich’s Contact page
  2. Using Formidable Pro plugin – Online Safety’s Contact page, Biologist’s Contact page
  3. 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.



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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:

  1. Pages are best suited for information you rarely update such as your About, Contact and Blogging Guidelines pages.
  2. Situations where you want students to discuss a question or topic are better suited to publish as a post and not a page.
  3. Assignment and homework information is normally best published as posts and not on a page.
  4. 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:

  1. 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
  2. Resource links - Mr. Salsich’s Learning Links
  3. Events Calendar - Butler Bulldogs@ Bell Homework and Events Calendar


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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.



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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.


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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.



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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.


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What now?

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!

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

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Activity 1: Getting your class blog started – Create blog and customize look

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!

Wherever you’re at – we’ll step you through the tasks designed to increase your skills while providing mentors who’ll support your learning.  Don’t stress, have fun, and remember to ask for help by leaving a comment any time you need assistance!

The aim of this first activity is to help you set up your class blog.


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

  1. Why educators use blogs
  2. Examples of class blogs
  3. Sign up for your class blog
  4. Create your class blog (if you don’t already have one!)
  5. Customize your blog theme
  6. Other theme tips
  7. What else did you want to know?


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Why educators use blogs

The main reasons why educators use blogs include:

  • Share information and class news with parents, family and caregivers.
  • Provide students with a way to access assignments, homework, resources and information about their class online.
  • For global collaboration and authentic audience.
  • To inspire and motivate students.

The benefits of class blogging include:

  • Blogging opens up the possibilities of audience in new ways. When students are writing or publishing for an audience other the teacher, it impacts how they view what they doing and the intrinsic motivation they have.
  • Students love seeing their work on the Internet and adore getting comments from people. It motivates them to write as it gives them an audience that is real.  The blog opens up a whole new world of people who can offer encouragement and feedback.
  • The blogging experience forces the students to do more reflection on their learning and allows them to showcase products they have produced with online tools.
  •  Blogging provides an authentic educational experience, where what they write is not only seen and commented on by their teacher, but by their peers and the “public.” For most students, it’s a bit of extra motivation knowing their peers will see their work.
  • There is an authentic audience – a global audience – one that is willing to connect, share, challenge, discuss and communicate with classes. This audience can provide further information, opinions, suggest resources, seek answers to questions and so on which pushes blogging further.
  • Blogging develops a learning network. Exercise books etc need not be pushed and crumpled in school lockers only to be placed in the rubbish bins at the end of the school year, but student work is out there for their school lives.

Benefits from class blogging summarized from The State of Educational blogging in 2012.

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Examples of Class blogs

Your class blog is what extends your class beyond the four walls of your classroom.  As you get going, you’ll soon decide the  kinds of content, information and connections you want to make.

Here are examples of real class blogs to check out for ideas:

  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
  23. The Edublogger class blog list - includes Maths, Science, English, History, LOTE, EFL /ESL, Library, School news blogs and more!


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Sign up for your class blog

Your first step if you don’t currently have your own blog, or you would like to use a new blog for this challenge, is to sign up for a blog.

You can use any blogging platform you would like including Edublogs, WordPress and Blogger, however when we write detailed instructions they will refer to Edublogs.  You will be able to adapt this information to the blogging platform you are using.

Here is some important things to consider before creating your blog:

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1.  Your Username

Your username is what you use to sign into your blog dashboard and is displayed on posts and comments you write.

While you can’t change your username, most blog platforms do allow you to change how your name is displayed on posts and comments.

Most teachers don’t allow students to use first and last name online, so most educators model this by using display names like Miss W or  Mrs. Waters.



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2. Blog URL 

During the creation of your blog you’ll have to select a URL for it.  When you want others to visit your blog you give them the URL link of your blog.   For example, the URL for the Teacher Challenge blog is http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/

Think carefully about your blog URL.

Once your blog has an established audience you’re less likely to want to change your blog URL.   Ideally you want to keep your blog URL short, easy to remember and suitable to be reused for several years.

A simple option is to use your name in the blog URL as these educators did:

  1. Mr. Baldock’s Class blog (http://mrbaldock.edublogs.org)
  2. Mr. Salsich’s Class blog (http://jmsalsich.edublogs.org/)

Alternatively, use something unique that has meaning like:

  1. Huzzah (http://huzzah.edublogs.org)
  2. The Skinny ( http://edublogs.misd.net/theskinny/)


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3.  Blog Title

Your blog title is one of the first things a reader sees when visiting your blog.  Choose a name that reflects the purpose of your class blog and your students can relate to.

But don’t stress too much!  You can always change your blog title any time via Settings > General in your dashboard.

Check out the following blog lists for ideas of blog titles other educators have used:

  1. The Edublogger class blog list
  2. Best Class Edublog 2011



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Create your blog

Now you’ve done all the research it’s time to create your blog!  All you need to do is follow these instructions if you would like to set up your blog on Edublogs.

Alternately,  check out The State of Educational Blogging 2012 to learn about the different blog platforms used by educators.

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Customize your blog theme

Your theme is what controls the look and appearance of your blog; this is what people see when they visit your blog.

This is how you give your class blog its personal touch.

Like most things in life, first impressions count.

Great blog themes make good impressions on readers so that visitors are more likely to check out your blog.   Overwhelming themes detract from your blog content, and make visitors less likely to read your content.

Every newly created blog normally has the same default theme.  The last thing you want is to look like all the other blogs.

Customizing your blog theme is normally one of the first thing most people want to do when they first log into their blog.   So lets finish off getting your class blog started by showing you how to customize your theme!

But first lets talk theme choices!

There’s a lot of themes to choose from so here’s a list of popular themes used on class blogs with a link to blogs using the theme to help you:

Ready to change your theme?

Great!  It’s really easy.   Using the theme customizer you can customize your theme and see the results in real time before activating the theme.

Here’s how change your theme using the theme customizer:

1.  Log into your blog dashboard.

2.  Go to Appearance > Themes.

3.  Click on ‘Live Preview‘ below the theme you want to use.

Or if you want to customize your current theme, click on ‘Customize‘ under the current theme.

4.  This loads the theme customizer.  Now all you do is work through the control panels on the left to customize the theme to preview the theme changes in real time before activating it on your blog.

5.  Once you’re happy with the changes you just click ‘Save and Activate’.

The following control panels are available:

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Site Title & Tagline

Used to change the site title and tagline on your blog.   Not all themes display taglines.

Themes like Edublogs Default 2011, Anubis, Benevolence. Blix, Connections and Contempt include an option to hide Header text.  All you need to do is deselect the Display Header text option to hide the Site title and Tagline on these themes.  This option is used when you want to use a custom image header instead of text for the Site title.



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Colors

‘Colors’ controls the color of the header text and background color.   Which options are included depends on the theme.  Not all themes allow you to change the header text color.  Changes to header text color do take time and you will need to wait for the page to refresh to view the change.



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Header Image

Almost all Edublogs themes include an option to upload your own custom image header.

A custom image header means you can obtain a much more customized look and feel adding your “own personal touch” to your blog.

Header Image is used to:

  1. Upload a new custom image header — if your theme supports this option.
  2. Or to select one of the default header images that comes with the theme you are customizing — if your theme includes a range of default header images.

Here’s how you use the header options:

1.  Click on drop down link on Header image.

2.  Click on ‘Select a file‘ (or drop file in upload area), select the custom image header that you’ve saved on your computer and then click Open to upload.

Please note:

  • The custom image header is used as is and you can’t crop the header image using the customizer.
  • Only the top part of the uploaded image is used if it is too large.
  • For best results resize your custom image header to the recommended dimensions specified on Appearance > Header before uploading or upload the image using Appearance > Header (as this allows you to crop the image).
  • Be patient when uploading the image header using the customizer.  There is a delay before you’ll see indications that your image header is being uploaded.

3.  Or click on the ‘Default’ tab to select one of the default headers.



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Background Image

On many themes, much like custom header images, you can add images to your blog’s background.   A background image  is another great way of adding that personal touch to your class blog.
You upload a background image as follows:

1.  Click on drop down link on Header image.

2.  Click on ‘Select a file‘ (or drop file in upload area), select the background image you’ve saved on your computer and then click Open to upload.

Please note:

  • The background image is used as is.
  • For best results resize your background to make it smaller if using an image from a digital camera (otherwise only the top part of the image will display).
  • Be patient when uploading the background using the customizer.  There is a delay before you’ll see indications that your image is being uploaded — this varies depending on the image size.
  • Most themes include a range of default backgrounds you can use.  These aren’t supported by the theme customizer and you need enable a default background by going to Appearance > Preset Background once the theme has been activated.

3.  After the image has uploaded the background image display options will become visible.

Changing these settings is entirely optional and the best option is to try each to see what you like.



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Static Front page

The static front page lets you select what appears on your blog’s home page.  By default, your home page is your blog post page however you can change this so your homepage is  a static front page and your posts are sent to a different page on your blog.

Most class blogs use a blog post page for their homepage.

The most common situation when you’ll see educators use static home pages is when they use a custom menu to use one class blog for multiple subjects or classes.   You’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to do this here!  This does require slightly more advanced blogging skills, so please let us know if you need our assistance to set up!



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Other theme tips

Some themes have extensive theme customization options which aren’t supported by the theme customizer.  Examples of these types of themes include WPMU-Triden,  WPMU-Dixi, Mystique, Yoko,  Mandigo and Edublogs Default 2011.

These types of themes add a theme option menu item under Appearance once the theme is activated.  To do more extensive customization you just need to go to Appearance > Theme Options.

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Common questions we’re asked about themes

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

1.  Can I upload my own theme?

Because of  the way blog platforms like Edublogs, WordPress.com and Blogger work you can only use the themes provided and can’t upload your own custom themes.  Most themes are designed to work on single installs and many don’t work or can have compatibility issues on blog platforms.

Remember that custom image headers and backgrounds  are an very effective way of customising your theme to meet your needs.

What now?

How did you go?  Hopefully you’ve now created your own blog and 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 2: Setting up pages – About, Blogging Guidelines and Contact!

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