Edublogs Teacher Challenges

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Step 6: Help parents and students connect

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Welcome to the sixth step in our free professional learning series on class and student blogging!


The aim of this step is to:

  1. Explain why it is important to help parents and students connect with your class blog.
  2. Show common problems parents and students have locating class blogs on the Internet.
  3. Provide 11 simple ways you can help parents and students find and use your class blog.

Why help parents and students connect

Class blogs are an excellent way for parents to find out what is happening in class and what their child is learning.  While students love seeing their work on the Internet and adore getting comments from people. Comments motivates students 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.

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.

If you want to get the most out of your class blog you need to help parent and students connect with, understand how to use your blog and easily find your class blog.

Finding your blog on the Internet

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 are bad approaches and decrease the chances parents or students find your class blog.

Here’s how frustrating it can be searching for a teacher’s website using Google:

Frustration of Googling a blog

Here is how annoying it is if the student (or you) writes down the wrong blog URL.

In the examples below the correct URL is mrswaters.edublogs.org. Each example is a common mistake we see in blog URLs sent to Edublogs support.

First part of the blog URL incorrect

If the first part of your blog URL is typed wrongly they are redirected to the 404 page not found error page.

urlwrong

Edublogs.org spelt wrong

Missed the s in edublogs

Spelt as edublog.org

Forgot the l in edubogs

Forgot the l

Or writes it as an email address:

Writes as email address

What you need to do

Most 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 on the Internet.

11 Simple Ideas to help

The most important tip is make sure you go to your class blog URL and then copy/paste your blog URL from the address bar of your web browser into any information you share with students and parents!

It’s really easy to type your blog URL wrongly — copying/pasting your blog URL ensures you get the URL correct every time!

Copy URL

#1.  Business card magnet with your class blog URL

Business card

Example of a business card

#2.  Include the link to your class blog in the school newsletter or send home your own blogging newsletter

Here’s an example of a blogging newsletter by 34MK 2012.

Example of Blogging newsletter

Example of blogging newsletter

#3.  Post link to your class blog on your teacher or school website

#4.  Include your name in the blog URL

Here’s examples of class blogs that use this approach:

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

Examples of email signatures

Examples of email signatures

#6.  Create a QR Codes for your class blog URL

Student holding a QR code

Example of a QR code

#7.  Create detailed Parent handouts

Here’s an example of Eagles Writes handouts designed to help parents know: what is a blog, the blog URL and why they blog.

Parent Handout

Example of Parent Handout page 1

Parent Handout

Example of Parent Handout page 2

Here’s Kirsten Tschofen’s parent consent form and parent handout.  If your school or school district doesn’t have a consent form then we recommend you discuss what needs to be included if you develop your own form.

Parent consent form

Example of a parent consent form

Here’s  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. Host a family blogging month

Encouraging parents and families to comments makes it more meaningful for students.   It also helps familiarize family and students with how to interact with your class blog.

One way to do this is to have a family blogging month that focuses on a commenting challenge by family members.  How it works is students record the number of comments by each different type of family member on a class blog chart and the student with the most comments at the end of the month wins a prize.

Check out Miss Jordan’s Class blog Family Blogging month post to learn more and here is a post designed to encourage family members to respond.

#10. Students write a letter to their parents

Organize for your students to write a letter to their parents to introduce the class blog and how the class will use the blog.

Here are student letter examples from Land of Year 4’s Class blog.

Student letter 3

Example 1: Student letter to parents

Student letter 2

Example 2: Student letter to parents

studentletter3

Example 3:  Student letter to parents

#11.  Set up email subscription for notification of new posts

It’s as simple as:

1. Go to Appearance > Widgets

widgets

2.  Add the email subscription widget to your sidebar.

Adding email subscirption

3.  Go to Subscriptions > Settings

Settings

4.   Click on Mail Template and personalize — if you want to customize the look.

Customizing the email

Here’s example of part of a full post email notification:

Full post email

Full post email

5.  Click on General Settings and customize your settings (optional).

General Settings

6.  You can even add email subscribers using Subscriptions > Add Subscribers!

Add subscribers

Your Task

We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about student blogging by completing the following tasks:

  1. Read through our 11 Simple ideas to help and choose one or more of the ideas to use with your students and parents.  Leave a comment to let us know which ones you are going to try with your class or share a link to any resources you’ve developed.
  2. Read through the most recent comments in reply to this step and leave a response to another person’s comment.

117 comments for “Step 6: Help parents and students connect

  1. Dominie Paterno
    May 21, 2015 at 6:47 am

    I am really looking forward to setting up a blog challenge month for all grade 3 and 5 students at my school. Thanks so much for the idea!

  2. Mel Hicks
    April 26, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    I think the little business card is a good way to promote the blog and I can add blog address to the school newsletter. My blog is open to whole school community so it takes longer to check talent release forms and general whole school event posts. My next one will focus on the Anzac Day display we have built in the Library and that will be the chance to put it in newsletter!
    I have to go back and add more details in guidelines but will do that soon!

  3. Barbara
    April 25, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    I haven’ used my blog yet with my class. I want to experiment with it first and know how to use this tool in the class.
    This means that I haven’t shared it with any students or parents, but this guide was very useful.
    Will use the QR code probably as I know many language teachers use them too.
    Thank you

  4. Miss Wells
    April 11, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Hi Sue,

    My class blog is currently private (as directed by Executive) therefore students are unable to search for or receive comments from other people/students. Bit of a shame because I think the idea of including it in the school newsletter is an easy way to share with the wider school community.

    I liked the 10 steps. Previously I had the students and parents sign a consent form before launching the blog. I have spoken about the blog and its purpose at ‘Meet the Teacher’ in Term 1. Parents are thrilled to be able to see into the classroom. The QR codes are interesting, I have read a little bit about how other teachers incorporate them into their teaching and learning programs. Think this might be my next challenge.

    Thanks for the idea!

  5. mrskoudelka
    April 4, 2015 at 4:53 am

    I like the idea of sharing the information with parents. I have our students blogs set as private with password access and share the password with parents. That way they don’t feel like their children are everywhere, but it still gives them limited public access which has helped their motivation when writing. I like the QR codes – definitely going to add that too!

  6. DeRoxolyn Spencer
    April 3, 2015 at 2:16 am

    I read through the 10 steps to Blogging. I will add my blog to the business cards I already make for parents. I make it into a magnet so they can keep all my contact information on their refrigerator. I plan to add it to my weekly newsletters and on my school teacher page.

  7. March 24, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    I enjoyed seeing all the examples(liked the business card) but as I’m blogging about a central shared library learning centre it would be easier to add the link to our school newsletter that is emailed out each fortnight to all families. I’ll need to finish all the stages and then have it checked by leadership as its going out to the school community.
    The Student Voice page I’m building has a passcode for school members only as it’ll have student work and photos on it.
    There are so many photo opportunities but we have such a strict privacy code that adds a lot of filtering work to publications.

  8. Alicia
    March 23, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    At my school all of our class blogs are found on our school website and that’s our main form of communication. During our beginning of the year Parent Teacher Child Interviews I introduced the parents to our blog and got parents to subscribe if they hadn’t already. When I eventually get around to creating some sort of header image on our blog I’ll have to play around with the email settings, hadn’t realised that I could be change those settings!

  9. Dr. Lue
    March 21, 2015 at 3:35 am

    Since I’m a college professor, there’s not much call for educating parents :)

    I will definitely post the URL on our course website, and list it in the syllabus!

  10. Mrs. Adamson
    March 18, 2015 at 4:44 am

    I love all the ideas in the example blogs you show. It demonstrates how blogging can contribute to a vibrant learning environment. And supplies excellent ideas. I will most likely put a link to my class blog in my email signature as well as on our school’s website.

  11. Carrie Carr
    March 17, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    After reading thru the 10 steps — I will start leaving the blog address in our weekly newsletter. I also plan to add it to my email signature. These are great ways to involve parents in your class, and help them know what their children are learning in my subject area.

  12. Carrie Carr
    March 17, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    I found quite a few useful resources from the list that I will be incorporating into my class blog when I introduce it for next school year. I especially liked the business card idea, the linking of your blog to a school newsletter, adding the blog link to your email signature line and the QR code for the class blogs. These ideas I felt were the most applicable to my middle school settings. A lot of the ideas, I felt, were geared more towards an elementary school setting.

  13. woodsscience
    March 11, 2015 at 8:33 am

    I hope that my parents take advantage of the blog. I am revamping my teacher website and will include my blog link on that site as well as in newsletters and notes homes. I will also incorporate a short lesson about blogging at the beginning of the year to teach the parents how to utilize the blog and answer questions. Along with that I will give them a handy guide to follow.

    • Jason Teitelman
      March 11, 2015 at 8:36 am

      A parent lesson and a take home guide…love it. As a parent I don’t know how many times something has been mentioned at back to school night that I promptly forget because it’s so much info in such a short time. Taking the time to walk them through the site and send home instructions for how to do it on their own is a marvelous idea. I think it will definitely have a positive impact on the participation level.

  14. April Grant
    March 11, 2015 at 8:17 am

    I sent a parent permission letter and also sent an email with the link included. Next year, I will probably add it to my brochure for meet the teacher night.

    • Jason Teitelman
      March 11, 2015 at 8:24 am

      I love that you have a brochure for your class; would love to see it. I think adding the link is a great idea and including it in meet the teacher night is great as well.

  15. Tracey Ferguson
    March 11, 2015 at 3:58 am

    I am looking forward to connecting with parents.
    I will email them with the link, and encourage them to subscribe so they are kept up to date.

    • Jason Teitelman
      March 11, 2015 at 8:25 am

      Good idea. It is probably worth including the link in any emails you send home. You never know which opportunity a parent will choose to connect.

  16. Shane Boland Harrison
    March 9, 2015 at 4:37 am

    I have added the email notification / subscription to my blog page sbharrison.edublogs.org. I also have a link to my blog on my email signature page so every email someone gets from me has my link. What I may do is add a sticker with my blog address to the back of my business cards. I teach at a private school and at this time of year we have lots of tours. I always tell people to check out our class blog by instructing them to get to it through our school website. I think that actually handing them the address would be better. I also plan to get better about emailing parents and reminding them to comment on their students blogs. I think it is easy for parents to forget that their student has a blog. We also send out enews at our school on Mondays and Thursdays – I am going to ask that our blog be included in the news at least once a month. I like the QR code idea but may not get to that anytime soon!
    Thanks, Shane

  17. Mrs Packer
    March 7, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    I will need to add a subscription link. We often have open nights/ afternoons so could incorporate information about the blog into this. I think it would be a good idea for parents to have written information as well. Hopefully the excitement from students will encourage parents to be involved too.

    • March 7, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      Sounds like a plan! I hope you do manage to get the parents involved!

  18. Mrs. Sandora
    March 7, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Since my Third Grade National Park Blog is project based, I plan on sending out an email to parents at the end of our work describing our project and inviting them to view the students’ presentations and posts. I plan to also invite them to add comments and feedback as well. In addition to providing a direct link in the email message, I will also add a link to my Third Grade Teacher Page on our school website. I will refer to my Teacher Page in my email message to let them know that the link will be there for future reference.

    I loved the business card idea! While I’m not sure if I’ll use it for either my third grade blog or my first grade blog, I’m thinking that it would be a great use for my fourth grade digital photography unit. Each student creates a Weebly website using photographs that they have taken with their digital camera during the unit. The business card fits right in since the students act as “professional” photographers while they go “on location” around the school to take photographs. Our unit already takes quite awhile, so I’m not sure that I have enough time to have the kids create their own design, (even though I love that idea!) but I think the kids will still love having their own business card!

  19. Daniela
    March 6, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    I think it is quite useful to copy and paste the URL in a newsletter. If the whole institution backs up the use of blogs in the community (parents/ teachers/ students / authorities), this can be duly informed in a parents’ meeting as well, and a page could also be created to explain why we use the blog.
    For the teacher challenge I created a blog having my primary school students in mind, but I also have a wordpress blog for secondary. There’s a “main” website that belongs to the school that centers all the teachers’ blogs. That’s another way to find the blog easily. We also have facebook groups with students, so every time we post something on the blog, we inform it via facebook by pasting the link on the group’s wall. That helps students and parents a lot.

    Here go the links to both the school and my blogs.
    School’s main page: http://cumbresblogs.com/
    My blog: http://dbarra.cumbresblogs.com/

    See you soon!

  20. Ms. Votaw
    March 5, 2015 at 3:52 am

    Since I maintain the school website, adding the url to the site will be easy–I will add it to both my class website and the links for parents page. For next school year I would like to make a parent information page to include the blog url on. Open House would be a great time to send that out with parents since I have all students in grades K-6 in my class. When I get a little more “meat” on my blog I will have my students who work with my school news broadcast that I film weekly do an advertisement for it as well.

  21. Sherrie
    March 4, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    I have copied and pasted the website into a newsletter about starting the blog. I like the idea of the QR code as well as a reminder at the end of the month’s newsletter.
    Your advice about comments has been very valuable and my class have used a few ideas and we plan to do more.
    One question I have is for the widgets. Do you need the pro subscription to be able to use the map widget of who has visited your site?

    • March 4, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      Hi Sherrie,

      I’m glad to hear you’re getting some good tips from the challenge!

      You would need Pro status to use “embed code” in your posts or sidebars, and the ClustrMap widget is a form of embed code, so for that particular feature you would indeed need to upgrade to Pro.

  22. Ms. McFadden
    March 4, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I am definitely going to post the blog url on my teacher website and I’m considering using QR codes as well to show off student blog work.

  23. Swiseman
    March 2, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    There are really great ideas in the readings for this session. I think it is important to use a variety of methods to share the link to the blog. The more places that parents and students can find the link the more likely they will visit the site and be able to locate the blog when they want to read or post something.

    I plan to send a flyer explaining the purpose of blogging and a permission slip for parents to allow their child to participate at the beginning of the school year. I will include the blog address in my email signature and on the library webpage. I also think it would be a good idea to make bookmarks with the blog address to stick in the kids’ books when they check out.

  24. Mrs. Kelly
    March 2, 2015 at 5:37 am

    Lots of great ideas here! I love doing a blogging month. Since I teach middle school and have five different blocks, I could see picking a different month for each and letting them post work and have parents comment. Currently, I have a homework board where I could post my blog address. I could also include it in the class syllabus. I used a QR code for the supply list this year, so I could do that, as well.

  25. Mrs. Ludvigsen
    March 2, 2015 at 5:32 am

    I sent out a newsletter to the parents this past week and hyperlinked my blog URL so it would be easy for them to go to it directly. I like the idea of creating a handout with pictures. Most of my parents are not English mother tongue speakers so having something visual would be helpful. I’ve also placed a link to my blog on my page on the internal school website.

  26. March 2, 2015 at 5:09 am

    I love the business card idea! It might be something the students can create and share with their parents along with teachers developing this as a project in class.

    For now I settled on creating a headline on our school webpage. You can check it out here:
    http://www.tangischools.org/imms

    In addition our students watch a school broadcast daily, so I will have the address included in an announcement next week.

    • Sue Waters
      March 3, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      Hi swatkins

      Great idea about students creating the business cards! Had not thought of that! If you do decide to do this I would make sure you check the URL they add to the business card. You would be amazed at the number of incorrect URLs we received daily into Edublogs support.

      The link on your school website looks good!

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  27. Adele Ellis
    March 1, 2015 at 7:36 am

    I will add the blog address to my email signature and on my school webpage. I will add it as a link and a QR code.

  28. Marie Simons
    February 28, 2015 at 10:18 pm
  29. Ms. Holley
    February 27, 2015 at 8:10 am

    After reading through the 10 steps to help parents get connected with my blog, one of my favorite ones was including my link to my blog in the class newsletter. I send home weekly newsletters, so this will definitely help me to “get the word out” about our class blog. I also like the idea of including my name in my URL. Thankfully, it mostly already is and it isn’t a difficult URL to remember. I also like the idea of having a parent information night. All of my students have a meet and greet at the beginning of the year and it would be a great idea for me to actually have my blog pulled up on my smart board and make sure it looks catchy enough that the parents want to visit it on the own. A little bit of salesmanship on my part will also help to encourage my parents to visit the site as well. I was also thinking about making a flier to send home whenever I make a large update to my blog. Finally, I will definitely be setting up email notifications to let me know whenever a new post has been made.

    • Heather Davis
      April 24, 2015 at 6:57 am

      We are just beginning to engage our students with looking at commenting guidelines, not yet at the stage where they will have their own blogs. However parents have subscribed and we do get quite a few comments so we know our parent community is engaged with our posting.
      Once the students have theri own blogs we might do a bit more promotion so girls are clear about access.

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