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 9 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. 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.

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 they will be able to 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 will be redirected to the Edublogs sign up page where some parents and students have been known to try to solve the problem by signing up for a new blog.

Sign up for new blog

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.

10 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.  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 undertaking one or more of these challenges:

  1. Read through our 10 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. What are your tips for helping parents and students connect with your class blog?  Leave a comment to let us know.

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

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. Marie Simons
    February 28, 2015 at 10:18 pm
  9. 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.

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