Edublogs Teacher Challenges

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Activity 3: Writing effective and engaging blog posts

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Welcome to the Teacher Challenge!

This is the second post in 30 Days to Kick Start Your Blogging. You don’t have to have ever published a “post” before, or maybe you’ve started to blog once or twice but haven’t quite yet stuck with it.

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 series is focused on helping educators set up their own personal / professional educator blogs.  Check out Blogging with Students if you want to work through our series designed to help you set up student and class blogs!


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 blogs 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 educator blogs
  2. Who writes posts on the educator blogs
  3. Examples of posts on educator blogs
  4. How to write a post
    1. Introduction to visual editor
  5. Tips for writing better blog posts
    1. Use attention grabbing titles
    2. Use short paragraphs
    3. Use Headings
    4. Remember to link
    5. Enhancing posts with images and other types of media
    6. What to blog about
  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 now?


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Introduction to posts

Your posts are where you’ll publish your main content such as your reflections, what you’ve learnt and information you want to share with others.  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 Personal / Professional Educator blogs

If you look closely at educator blogs you’ll see some are group blogs where several individuals publish posts on the blog while on other blogs the posts are published by just that educator.  Individual educator blogs are more common because most people are more motivated to post on their own blog due to personal ownership.

The Connected Principals is an example of a Group blog.  You can check out other group blogs here!


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Examples of posts on educator blogs

So what do you publish as posts on your blog?  Pretty much anything you want to share you’ll publish as a post.  Your reflections, what you’ve learnt, how-to’s and cool information  — there’s so much you can share!

Here’s some examples of posts to check out for ideas:

You can also check out more educator blogs and what they post about here!

Please note the posts I’ve shared have been written by some of our well known educational bloggers!  Starting out your posts don’t have to be perfect — blogging is a work in progress!

The key is to take the first steps!  Here’s my very first post ever — if I never wrote my first posts I wouldn’t be here helping you today!


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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:

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1. Use attention grabbing titles

Titles on blog posts are like titles on books. The better the title, the more it’ll grab the attention of readers and the greater the chance people will read what you’ve written.

Captivating and intriguing titles draw readers every time. Back that with a well written post and you can’t lose.

For further tips on writing post titles refer to 15 Ways to rework your next blog post title.

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2.  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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3.  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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4.  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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5.  Enhancing posts with images and other types of media

When you look at blogs 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.

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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6. What to blog about

For many edubloggers blogging is a bit about their readers and a lot about their own personal needs to reflect on what they are learning or what they want to share.

One of the commonest mistakes made by new blogggers is focusing on what they think their readers want to read.

Our advice is forget about your readers and focus on your own needs. You’ll be more passionate and it’ll come through in your posts.

And never assume that someone’s already written what you’re saying.

Remember:

Starting out your posts don’t have to be perfect — blogging is a work in progress!  The key is to take the first steps!  Here’s my very first post ever — if I never wrote my first posts I wouldn’t be here helping you today!

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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!

Now it’s time to write a post on your blog.

It’s entirely up to you!

Here’s some ideas on what you could write about:

  1. 7 things you don’t need to know about me
  2. My passions – often a lot easier to write about something you are really passionate about whether it be reading, cycling, genealogy or crafts
  3. Review or share a favourite learning or technology tool that you use

Leave a comment below with a link to your post 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 3: Setting Up Pages – About and Contact!

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95 comments for “Activity 3: Writing effective and engaging blog posts

  1. Courtney Takabayashi
    March 15, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Aloha fellow bloggers and educators!

    Thinking of things people don’t need to know about me was tough!! I spent way too much time mulling. But. . .I think the post came out okay. I kind of cheated because I whittled down the 7 things to 3.

    This was the first time I ever used headings in a post, so exciting! Well, for me anyway. (^__^)

    Mahalo,
    Courtney Takabayashi

    http://www.courtneytakabayashi.com/2013/03/the-blog-challenge-week-2-3-things-you.html

  2. teacherpetty
    February 21, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Still looking at how to remove ‘comments’ section from the bottom of my ‘Contact’ page….mmmm….I’ll find it soon!

  3. rolandteach
    July 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I’m committed to going through all 30 challenges even if no one is still reading these comments or my post! I’m learning.

    Today I’ve completed Challenge 2 writing a post. I wrote 7 things you don’t need to know about me. Here is the link; http://rolandteach.edublogs.org/2012/07/06/7-things-you-dont-need-to-know-about-me/

  4. Shikha
    May 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Here is the link of ‘How to Write in Hindi Using Google IME?’ – http://hindiblog.edublogs.org/2012/05/16/how-to-write-in-hindi-online/

    Hope, I started well.

  5. November 22, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Great tips .. they say content is king when it comes to havinga successful blog.. I will use some if these tips when writing future posts

  6. bgibson135
    November 17, 2011 at 2:18 am

    The free blog sites on WordPress.com make it easy to publish postings via either email, or by making a phone call. This makes it easy to incorporate mobile devices into the process. You could take a picture with your phone, attach it to an email, add text and send that email to the unique email address for your blog site. The posting is automatically generated upon receipt of your email. *It is also easy to create simple surveys via this same email process by using something called [shortcode]s.

    You can call a special phone number, enter your unique key code and start talking. When you hang up, WordPress saves your audio as an mp3 file, and adds that file to an “Audio Post” with a simple Javascript audio player. You can go back later and change the “Audio Post” title to something more appropriate, and even add text, images or anything else to illustrate your audio podcast.

    If your students can create emails on their smart devices, then they could take digital notes and send them to their WP site for sharing or later review.

  7. mrstrisoliere
    August 30, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for the cool tips and information. How do you add pictures to your blog? I copied a picture and would like to add it to my homepage.

    • August 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      Hi Mrs. Trisoliere,
      Here’s the link with those instructions: Activity 5. If you own the image, then scroll down to Step 4 to learn how to place it in your post. If you do not own/create the image, then please read the whole post. If you need help, just let me know.
      Kind regards,
      Tracy

  8. Mick_15_
    July 1, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Thanks for the challenge!

    I have just put up my first ever blog post :)!

    I chose to review and talk about a favourite web tool …Edmodo

    Check it out and let me know what you think, all feedback is welcome:
    http://micksweeney.wordpress.com/

  9. missjjones
    June 2, 2011 at 12:56 am

    One thing I look forward to about blogging is the sharing of resources. I’m ready to enhance my PLN!

    http://peacelovewrite.edublogs.org/

  10. SarahLDavis
    March 14, 2011 at 10:17 am

    As an English teacher I must admit that I’m loving how much attention to word choice, correct spelling, punctucation, and content students must focus on to create or participate in blogs. I’m definitely gaining more confidence about incorporating blogging in my classes.

  11. dinahhunt
    February 16, 2011 at 9:24 am

    This is fun. Just finished day 2 of the challenge. http://dinahhunt.edublogs.org/
    My topic was Twitter. Fantastic tool which led me to checking out blogging. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @aueagle1
    I think one thing I look for in blogs is the unique voice of the writer. Tell me something I didn’t know. Enlighten me. Inspire me. Challenge me to see things differently.

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