Edublogs Teacher Challenges

Free professional learning for educators by educators.

Step 5: Using Blogs as Part of Your PLN

Print Friendly

Welcome to the fifth step in our free professional learning series on building your PLN.

The aim of this step is to:

  1. Explain what is a blog
  2. Explain the benefits of using blogs as part of your PLN.
  3. Show you how to use blogs as part of your PLN.

Blogs play an important role in most educator’s PLNs and making blogs part of your PLN is more than just publishing posts on a blog.

What is a blog?

One of the biggest challenges educators new to blogs face is understanding what is a blog and how a blog works.

So we made this quick intro video to explain.

Reasons why educators blog

The main reasons why educators have personal blogs include:

  • Share information and tips with other educators.
  • Collaborate with a global audience. Increased collaboration with others, leads to greater innovation and ideas, because each individual sees a different perspective – giving all involved greater “food for thought!”
  • To reflect on their learning or their teaching /work practices.
  • To learn how to blog themselves so they can use blogs effectively with their students.

Refer to The State of Educational blogging in 2013 for more information on why educators use blogs.

Your personal blog extends your relationships outside of your school and allows you to connect with global educators who all willingly help each other.

Using blogs as part of your PLN

I’m sure that lots of people who are very glad I’m a blogger would be totally surprised by the fact that initially I really struggled with the concept of blogging — ‘Why anyone would blog and why others read their blogs?’

It took almost a year from being shown what a blog was to becoming a blogger.

The online tools I used before blogging were excellent for sharing information.  But blogging gave me what they lacked; the ability to reflect, collaborate, exchange ideas and connect with other people.

Ultimately blogging completely changed my life; it’s the reason why I’m now employed to do the work I do and helped me build a strong PLN.

The key components to making blogs part of your PLN are really simple:

  1. Read and comment on other people’s blog posts
  2. Publish posts on your own blog to reflect your thoughts, ideas and/or to share resources.

It’s also important to remember that not everyone who makes blogs part of their PLN are bloggers.   It’s really up to you!  Some educators prefer to read and comment on other people’s posts while other educators also have their own personal blog.

Tips to building your PLN via Blogs

Like everything, there are tips that’ll both save you time and make you more effective.

Reading blog posts

Reading other bloggers’ posts is an important part of connecting with other educators.

One of the easiest ways to keep updated with posts from your favourite blogs is to subscribe to their RSS feed using Feedly (refer to these step by step instructions on how to set up Feedly).

Here are some blogs you can subscribe to using Feedly:

  1. The Edublogger ( )
  2. Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day (
  3. Free Technology for Teachers ( )

Check out the Edublog Awards lists for more blogs to subscribe to!

Another option I use on my mobile devices is subscribing to my twitter timeline and twitter hashtags using Flipboard.  This pulls all the links shared on Twitter into my Flipboard account in a magazine format where I can easily read, share and comment on articles shared by my network.

You’ll find detailed step by step instructions on how to set up Flipboard here.

Watch this video to see how I use Flipboard.

Commenting on posts

Your commenting skills and how you engage in comments with others on blogs posts is one of the most important, and often over looked aspects, of using blogs as part of your PLN.

Key aspects that’ll help include:

1.  Approve comments quickly

If someone leaves a comment on your post, make sure you approve the comment quickly (if you moderate comments)

There’s nothing more annoying to a reader to see that their comments haven’t been published.

2.  Always respond back to readers on your own posts.

If readers have made time to comment on your posts the very minimum you should do is respond back to your readers (ideally each reader) in the comments on your post.

This is very important for building your blog’s community; it demonstrates that you value your readers and their input.

Below is an example of replying back to a comment using threaded comments:

Comment on a post

3.  Use the Subscribe to Comments option

If a blogger provides a subscribe to comment option, then make sure you select this option when leaving a comment, so you’re notified by email of any follow up comments.

It’ll make your life easier :)

Notify of follow up comments

Set up your own blog

Like all other aspects of building a PLN — what you get back is directly related to what you put in!

You’ll get the most back when you read other bloggers’s posts, comment on their posts and publish posts on your own personal blog.  The more you learn about being a blogger, and writing effective posts,  the better you’ll connect with others.

For those who are new to blogging we recommend you work through our personal blogging series.  The series takes you step by step through the process of setting up your own personal educators blog and includes links to other educators’ blogs so you can see how they use their blogs.  You’ll find our tips for writing more effective blog posts here.

Make sure you check out the tips for First Time Bloggers voicethread, created by Nancy Carroll! It includes excellent tips on what to blog about and how to get started.

Your task

We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about PLNs by undertaking one or more of these challenges:

  1. Check out “Advice to First Time Bloggers” Voicethread and then leave a comment on this post to share what you learned from the Voicethread.
  2. Set up Feedly and/or Flipboard.  Refer to these instructions to set up and use Feedly or this information to use Flipboard.  Here is a list of blogs you can subscribe to using Feedly. Leave a comment to tell us how  you went setting up Feedly or Flipboard and to let us know who you subscribed to and why.
  3. Write a post on your blog about what you learned.  The focus here is to reflect on your learning. For example, ‘What did you learn about using blogs for building a PLN that you didn’t know?’, ‘What did you like/not like about Feedly, Flipboard or blogs?’, ‘What advice did we give that you don’t agree with or we should have included?’  Please include @edublogs if you tweet your post — so we can share your post with our network.  Leave a comment with a link to your post so we can read it!
  4. Leave a link to your blog in a comment on this post if you are participating in our PLN series so the other participants can easily subscribe to your blog.

Also feel free to leave a comment to ask any questions or share your tips.

70 comments for “Step 5: Using Blogs as Part of Your PLN

  1. Ria
    October 17, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Well I’m happy to read that I’m not the only one who doesn’t have or has startetd a blogging page. Since, taking up this challenge on Edublogs I already cut the ribbon of entering the world of Tweets. It’s amazing how much you can learn online via blogs, without someone in front of you. I just hope it doesn’t cross the line of eliminating teachers in a classroom.
    This week’s challenge is to blog and I don’t have a blog website nor do I plan on starting one anytime soon. I like to take baby steps and since I just opened a Twitter account I’m still getting use to commenting, posting, and reposting stuff. I’m glad I partaked in this challenge, I don’t think I would’ve made any new accounts had it not been for edublogs 😁 so thank you! Maybe your next challenge could focus just on ‘how to start a blogging page’s for people like me 😊

    • Sue Waters
      October 20, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Hi Ria

      Great to hear that this challenge has helped you venture into new areas. Baby steps is the best approach. A good place to start is by reading posts from blogs and leaving comments on blogs.

      When you reach the point where you do want to start a blog we do have two different series on blogging that you can work through. You’ll find the series on personal blogging for educators here –

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  2. Ms K Kauffman
    October 14, 2014 at 12:41 am

    I have not actually started my own professional blog yet (beyond Twitter), so I would like to comment on the Voicethread advice for first time bloggers. I noticed that many educators suggest not waiting – “just dive in.” This advice has given me the courage to start a professional blog, but I think I’d like to start by sifting through some of the library blogs that are already out there. I want to find my place in the blogging world and create something meaningful and helpful. One educator suggested that quality over quantity is key in professional blogging, and I tend to agree. I’d like to put something out there that’s worth reading. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that blogging can help an educator to make connection, blogging doesn’t have to just be for advice. I look forward to connecting with more educators, especially teacher librarians or teachers involved with ed tech. I also love the Edublog awards – I’ve been bookmarking a number of the nominated blogs in my Live Binder so that I can check out some of the awesome things that educators are doing around the world!

    • Sue Waters
      October 20, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      Hi Ms K Kauffman

      “Just dive in” is common advice because too often as educators we want everything to be perfect. Blogging doesn’t need to be perfect; think of blogging as work in progress. Quality is more important than quantity however I would also not stress too much about worry about readers. My personal advice is to blog for your own personal needs; use blogging to reflect on what you want to learn more about or to share what you have learnt. When you do that your passionate comes through.

      Thanks for sharing your reflection and let us know if you need any help!

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  3. Cyndi
    October 13, 2014 at 8:52 am

    I like the advice in the VT to stuff your blog with current, relevant info, as well as “just write.” I looked at both Feedly and Flipboard, and decided that I’ll probably give Flipboard a try. It appeals to how I compartmentalize things. Here’s my blog’s addy: :)

    • Sue Waters
      October 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Hi Cyndi

      Flipboard works for me because I do most of my reading on my mobile devices and it allows me to quickly curate the links I want to share into Flipboard magazines. It might be possible to have too many magazines ( )?

      But I also use Feedly because it helps me quickly read blogs I subscribe to.

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  4. rkorte78
    September 5, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Hello All!

    Sorry that this post is so incredibly late! I lost the email from edublogs for challenge number 5! Please take a look at my page and let me know what you think. I am new to this world of blogging and am trying to keep up with everything!

    Any input would be great!

  5. Chelsea-Catherine Cobb
    February 27, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Great post!
    I am currently in the process of starting up my own blog, but I am having a great deal of trouble with it. I think I, too, am in that questioning phase, and I am needing a bit of advice. My blog is, and I would appreciate any sort of feedback.

    Thank you!

  6. Emmie Nickerson
    September 18, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    I’ve never really seen many educational blogs until I started taking this education tech class, and I’m really starting to like it!

    • Emmie Nickerson
      September 18, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      I would use it in my classroom to keep in touch with parents, and other teachers, since I will be teaching younger kids.

      • Roxanne
        September 8, 2014 at 1:09 am

        I am using my blog to as a way to communicate with my parents. I am also teaching a 4K class and would like to use the blog as a place to access the resources that I find.

  7. Gavin Reid
    November 27, 2011 at 5:37 am


    I’ve never written a blog before and have just discovered this strange universe of PLNs. I hope to start using this in the future as it seems to have a lot of potential.


  8. kyle redford
    October 6, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Miss W,

    THank you for all your support. Apparently, I couldn’t respond to both you and Tracey at the same time. Here is the URL:

    I would love any feedback. The students are so excited about their blog! Next they will start their own blogs.



  9. kyle redford
    October 3, 2011 at 4:48 am

    Wow, I just lost my entire message…bummer. Anyway, thank you for your helpful guide. It helps to demystify the blogging world for people like me (I used to consider myself “non-techy” but I can’t afford that lazy moniker anymore, at least not as a teaching professional). I am wading in slowly, both as a blog consumer and a creator. My 5th grade class is creating a blog about our Global Citizenship Study. Your guide will be helpful. If anyone has any tips, cautions, or ideas about how I can most effectively facilitate this project, please do not hesitate to weigh in. I am still trying to crack the blogging code. Thanks again. Kyle Redford

    • October 3, 2011 at 10:22 am

      Hi Kyle,

      The best advice I can give you is to follow the Edublogs Teacher Challenge on Blogging with Students. You can see them on the side bar if you scroll back up on this page.

      Kind regards,
      Tracy Watanabe

      • kyle redford
        October 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

        You are too good to me! Thank you both for your support! We have a few entries into our blog (we just started). There will be more as we move through the study (probably one or two a week). The students are SO excited about it. I have never seen them this excited to volunteer to do work :-) Next…they will start their own blogs, but we will learn together with this one first. Here is the URL:

        Thanks again for your support!



        • October 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm

          Hi Kyle,

          You are off to a great start. Thanks for leaving us your URL so we can visit. I left you a comment on one of the posts you wrote.

          Kind regards,

    • October 5, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      Like Tracy said, check out the Teacher Challenges here on this blog. Can you give us the URL of your blog and we will visit as well?

  10. July 28, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I am way behind in these task for the challenge but I feel that is because having to blog so much for school and now for this it is like I have parallel lives running. Aim finding the challenges good as something you find out is that you don’t know everything you thought you know about these. It is the little ideas and the suggestions that can make your experience with these tools so much more effective. Thanks everyone for the great suggestions.

  11. July 27, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Better late…isn’t that what they say?

    I started blogging with my class at the beginning of the Australian school year, after lurking around many class blogs, and participating in the ‘Kickstart Your Blogging’ Teachers Challenge – an extremely invaluable process!

    I now have my Class Blog, which has just reached 2000 visitors, and my own teaching blog PrimEd, which isn’t updated as frequently as I would like. Insert sad face here.

    Through blogging, I’ve learnt so much about the blogging process, and even myself as a teacher, trying new things I’ve seen posted on Blogs, more professional reading, bring back ideas to my own colleagues, and expanding my PLN beyond anything I thought was possible, coming from a small school!

    It really is an amazing process, giving learning such authenticity for students!


  12. July 23, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Inspiring post. I am a new blogger and i hope this will work for me just like most of you here. Thanks in advance.

  13. Ellen
    July 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Ok. In the spirit of blogging, I have left my comments for challenge #5 on my edublogs at

  14. July 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Great tips for a beginner! I have posted a response on my blog:

    • johart1
      July 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm

      Hi Jessica

      Am always so impressed by people who reflect consistently in blog posts – not something I am good at! I have left a comment on your post.


  15. July 12, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I just started my first blog two days ago! I’d live some readers to hold me accountable and to give feedback :)

    • johart1
      July 14, 2011 at 9:14 pm

      Hi Kristy

      So well done for making a start with blogging.

      I have written a more complete comment on your post. I remember so well how excited I was (still am) when I get comments on my posts rather than tweets or other feedback. :)

  16. July 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Here are some of my thoughts on Challenge #5!

    • johart1
      July 14, 2011 at 9:43 pm

      Hi Sarah

      I have left a proper comment on your great post!


  17. July 11, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Thank you so much for kicking me into gear! I’m still overwhelmed by all that’s out there but at least I have a way to start getting a handle on it! A small group in my district are trying to get a tech-assisted PLN going. Wish us luck!

    • johart1
      July 14, 2011 at 9:48 pm

      Good Luck Gail and your group!

      With Twitter and Blogs and the community you are building I think your PLN is off to a great start


  18. July 11, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Hi, I too have been changed this past year through blogging. I owe my PLN to the Edublogs community! I, like so many others, lurked about for over a year, just blogging obliviously with my students and me.

    Then I joined the teacher blogging challenges and have joined with so many wonderful people in conversation about important educational topics. My blog is Dare to Care

    • July 11, 2011 at 5:24 am

      Ditto! I second your thoughts about owing your fab PLN to Edublogs!
      Kind regards,

      • July 11, 2011 at 5:37 am

        Thanks, Tracy, for stopping by and reading my comment! See what I mean, everyone, about our Edublogs-inspired PLN?

  19. July 10, 2011 at 1:17 am

    I hope that everybody is well. Here I my post for challenge 5: 30 Day PLN Challenge #5: Using Blogs as Part of Your PLN.
    -Mrs. Berry

  20. Heather Peretz
    July 10, 2011 at 12:10 am

    I have just started my own blog and stumbled upon this site. What a great resource with great advice. My goal this summer is to create a PLN and I hope I am on my way to reaching it. Last year I started a blog for my middle school’s new advisory program. It served as a resource page and was supposed to be a place for the advisors to share ideas and experiences. It turned into a place for me to post ideas sent to me by others and for me to comment on my successful experiences. I will continue to manage and use that blog. Reading all of the wonderfully written blogs out there is quite intimidating and very inspiring for me. Despite my shy nature I’ve put myself out there anyway. Her is a link to my blog and my advisory blog
    any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    • johart1
      July 14, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      Well done Heather!

      As a painfully shy person who has learned to hide it I know how hard it can be! Although I do find I am less shy “online” and would be really intersted to know whether this is so for you also?

      |I have also left a comment on your blogpost


      • hperetz
        July 15, 2011 at 2:35 am

        Thanks Jo!
        I appreciate your feedback. My shy nature mostly exists “online.” I am self conscious about what I write when I know that others will read it. I guess I worry too much that I will not look as intelligent as I view others that post and tweet and blog. It is interesting that in person I am not as reserved, I teach staff development classes within my district and I have almost 20 years of teaching experience K -8 general and special education. So, I guess hiding behind a computer doesn’t make me less self-conscious.
        Thanks again,

  21. Maureen Langsford
    July 10, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Thank you for the post. The link was just sent to me by my tech ed instructor because I am learning about blogs, how they can be useful in the classroom and to the educator. I see lots of excellent tips here in the original post and in the comments and I will be reading them all through their links. I am excited about the possibilities and fearful of the time commitment. However the professional development potential is huge and worth persevering. thanks again,

  22. July 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Three suggestions for blogging I have followed off and on:

    1. Develop a morning and evening personal learning algorithm. In other words set up your internet search into a daily routine. Mine is centered around Google Reader, Tweetdeck, Diigo, Google Mail, and several curation sites. I get inspiration from them.

    2. Use an annotation tool like Diigo to highlight and extract information.

    3. Experiment with different ways of gathering and filtering information on your blog like VoicePress–a way to blog via speech to text.

    Lastly, you can adapt a comment post into a blog post like I did here:

  23. July 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    My reflections on this post can be found at

  24. July 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Another motivating and reassuring post. I started blogging about 6 months ago and just started a personal blog for this challenge. Many of the steps I took along the way are listed in this post. I am encouraged to keep on with the journey. I am really enjoying hearing from other educators and am getting better at commenting on the blogs that I am reading. Every time I read a blog I get a new idea. It is always a positive experience. Sometimes it is difficult to know what to share but I found that if a set the goal for myself to blog at least once a week then I took more time to reflect.

    • July 6, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      Hi Ms. Kirwin,

      I realized that I only want to post one time a week around Sunday(ish) give or take a day. That way I can spend my other efforts learning from others, reading their posts, commenting, and reflecting. I believe Michal Graffin said it in the VoiceThread above, quality over quantity. Thanks for reminding me of that!

      Kind regards,
      Tracy Watanabe

  25. July 6, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks for another inspiring post! I’ve posted my own little reflection here.

  26. July 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    This is a really helpful post! I’ve been blogging for about six months now and am only just beginning to feel ready to start making links with other bloggers and educators – I’ve had no idea what I was doing for most of the time! But I’m feeling much more confident now, so here I am!
    I once attended a PD where we were all asked to share our ideas for activities to do with grades during garden classes… sadly most people just looked at each other blankly as they seemed to have nothing to share or didn’t seem to think their ideas were worth sharing! So, I’m trying to start the conversation with our blog, and hopefully give other people some ideas and also the confidence to see that their ideas are great too!

    • July 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Michelle,

      Your blog looks fabulous! Only six months? Nicely done!

      It sounds like you’d like to have more collaboration of ideas through your learning community (physical and connect in the digital community). Is that one of your goals?

      Have you thought about connecting through the Class Blogging Challenges? Theresa Allen posted about it.

      Kind regards,
      Tracy Watanabe

  27. July 6, 2011 at 4:28 am

    Thanks for the great post. One of our bloggers asked a question in a comment on my blog — see how effective our conversations can be— so I created this post on how I organize to build my PLN from my blog learning/reading:

    Build PLN with Organization Tools

    This blog links to Sue Waters info on RSS readers and to the social bookmarking platform, Diigo.

    Blogs connect you to other social networks (like Diigo mentioned in my blog) on which you further connect to your PLN. It truly does become a network.

    If you join VoiceThread to leave a comment (which I did), that is another way to connect to your PLN — through shared VoiceThreads.

    And I second the idea of adding blogfeed to your sidebar. I need to update mine.

    Thanks all, for helping me learn. Sheri

  28. July 5, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Great post! I’m always looking for ideas to improve my blogging. I have only started blogging in the last year.

  29. July 5, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Hi Sue,
    Great post. I’ve left my reflections on it here

  30. July 5, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Great post! I’m always looking for ideas to improve my blogging. I have been started blogging since last year.

  31. July 5, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Hi Sue,

    This is such a great post! You’ve asked for advice/tips for building PLN with blogs. Here’s mine:

    The main thing to remember is it takes time to build readership and community. It honestly reminds me of moving to Arizona 13 years ago, away from everyone I knew (I’m a California girl). I found that making friendships took time and energy. Some of those relationships ended up being my closest friends, while others are still only at the acquaintance level. That’s normal. — I find parallels in building friendships in my physical world to my online world. — It takes time and effort. So, stick with it!

    Kind regards,

  32. lisastoll
    July 5, 2011 at 2:17 am

    Thank you for the great tips and suggestions.
    I just opened a Google Reader account to access all the blogs I am following and added FlipBoard to my iPad. FlipBoard was confusing but I will keep trying to figure it out. I added a comment on the voicethread but I don’t think my voice is coming across?? any suggestions?

    I just finished a new post on my PLN blog about the book
    Classroom Instructions That Work – I would love to have your comments about the book and hear about instructional strategies you’re using in the classroom.

    This PLN challenge is wonderful and I’m learning so much from each of you!! thank you

  33. Mrs. Schmidt
    July 5, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I have had a classroom blog for a year and I because of this challenge, I started a personal blog last month. Thanks for the tips. I am very excited about using Flipboard on my iPad. But I am having a problem adding my own blogs to Flipboard. Everytime I search on them, then just come up with Twitter or Flickr mentions. Any suggestions?

  34. Chelsy Hooper
    July 4, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Great tips, I would add to designate time for your blog or for your reader, such as always posting on Fridays or whatever works for you. I had a great first year blogging, then got too busy at the end of my second year.

  35. Denise Rawding
    July 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Thnak you for these tips. I recently began to blog and to read blogs. I’m excited about the possibilities.

  36. Vicki
    July 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    This could not have come at a better time! I’m just now setting up my blog that will reflect on the every day life of a middle school teacher, and I needed some constructive advice to help me get started. Thanks for all the great tips!

  37. July 4, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Thanks for another great post. One thing I find really useful on my edublgos blog and blogspot one is to have a feed widget on the side bar that shows the blogs I am following. It gives the title of their latest post and the date. In that way I have a quick nifty way to identify a new post.

  38. July 4, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Great post! I’m always looking for ideas to improve my blogging. I have only started blogging in the last couple of months. I feel that keeping a blog post relatively short and too the point helps. Blogging is an extremely useful tool encourages reflective practice. Hopefully at the same time I am contributing to the wider teaching community as well.

  39. July 4, 2011 at 7:44 am

    I started my first blog with this blogging challenge last year. Now, I have 4 blogs! It’s a great experience and I’ve learned so much and met so many talented educators.

    I will send a link to my post when complete.


  40. July 4, 2011 at 6:32 am

    I’ve been blogging for a year and love it. It is a great way for me to reflect on my job, share my thoughts and (hopefully) help other librarian out there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *