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Add some bling to a blog
Add some bling to a blog

Our blog has a heart, brain, eyes,  muscles, nerves and now it needs to ensure that it has legs so it can ‘walk’ and train. The sidebar of a blog can be a dynamic addition and demonstrates the fitness of the blog.  It allows both the blogger and the blog’s readers to ‘walk’ a long way.

The blog sidebar can display

  • Categories
  • A Blogroll allowing the blogger to ‘walk’ through, click on links and check out other blogs
  • Commonly used resources with access via links.
  • A search bar
  • Badges and much more
  • Widgets (See beginners challenge #7 for another great post by Sue Waters)

Add some bling with widgets

Widgets  are pieces of pre- written code that can be grabbed from websites, copied and pasted into a text box that has been added to the sidebar from appearances>widgets in the dashboard. (See the beginner challenge for this week.) The widgets give the blog bling!

Notes: A blogger has to consider the problem of too much  clutter as opposed to sufficient information on the sidebar. See the beginnger challenge post on Getting More out of Widgets.

Challenges #6:  A blog with legs and bling

  • Read Beginners’ Challenge Getting More out of Widgets for more detailed information on widgets, categories and tags
  • Check out at least 5 to 10 blogs and take note of what is on their sidebars. You can search through some of shortlisted blogs for the edublog awards 2010 (See the end of this post for a list.)
  • Ensure that you have a visitor tracking widget to your sidebar
  • Go on a “widget treasure hunt”. Write a post, providing links to  at least 5 to 10 blogs (that you discover on your hunt)  each of which feature a different widget. Tweet out for help using your twitter network or
  • Spring clean your side bar. Tell us what you have done to clean it up and what you have added to it. Be as innovative as possible or
  • Take a walk through your blog sidebar and share some of your favourite widgets including justification, tips, hints etc. What are the must haves? Discuss in relation to an individual  blog, a class blog and/or a student blog or
  • Your choice of topic regarding the blog sidebar.
  • Tag your posts with #ksyb (Kick Start Your Blog) and other appropriate tags, add category(ies) See the current Beginners’ Challenge for more notes on categories and tags.
  • Read at least 5 other blog posts from bloggers in the challenge. Add a comment
  • Remember to always try and comment back on a commentee’s blog if you can.

Extension activity:

  • Design your own badge, add to the sidebar.
  • Search for non educational blogs based on your other interests.  Check out their sidebar content. Write a post comparing what you find here compared with educational blogs.
  • Add a QR code widget on the side of your blog. Here is one QR generator Fill in the fields that youmy qr codefeelcomfortable with. To read the code you need the iTag QR app from iTunes. Photograph the code with your iPhone  and the iTag will haul in the data and deal with it appropriately. How could we use QR codes in education? Have you used them before? What tips and advice would you give? What code generators have you used?

A big thank you!

A big thank you to all who have added their ideas to the

  1. blog pages google doc. Have you checked all the updates?
  2. an ” image in 6 words”  Have you added your words?
  3. to the voicethread with” tips on blogging“. Please share your tips.

Blogs shortlisted in the 2010 Edublogs awards

Legs and bling - blogs


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  1. I completed all posts except for this one on Widgets and Sidebars. It probably shows how I always put off big clean ups.
    So here it is finally.
    From Sock Drawers to Sidebars

  2. Hi everyone in this wonderful challenge, we are being challenged aren’t we? I enjoyed this widgets task, lots of room there for changing colours and advanced settings for shades, titles etc, feedjit is on one of my faves to see what countries people come from.
    http://plungingindeep.blogspot.com/ is my teacher challenge blog. Pls com and visit me.
    Did anyone get a QR code happening?? I couldn’t do it but I will try again.

  3. I edited my sidebar during the beginners challenge so I think I am better there. I don’t think I can ever say perfect because I feel that a blog is a living breathing animal that is always growing and adapting to new sources. I did check out some other blogs and will list them on my blog with notes. One of the suggestions was to add a QR code to your blog. So I did. I created my QR code using Google and posted a howto video on my blog. QR codes are a great discussion point in class. I have had stundts bring in QR codes that we explore together.

  4. Pingback: Widgets and Bling add Legs to the Blog | On an e-Journey with Generation Y

  5. Widget Wonders and Widget World — be clean and current — that’s simple and up-to-date.

    Great ideas on how to get your blog to sparkle, twinkle, and inform…

    Widget Wonders

  6. I have been tweeking my sidebar since I started my blogs a couple of months ago. I decided not to change anything for this challenge, but I did have fun analyzing my sidebar and created a slide show with my results (as well as those for my posts and pages). I also created a badge celebrating my involvement in this Teacher Challenge and published it in my sidebar.

    • That is a great adaptation of slideshare to share your findings and for many of us an engaging way of getting readers to read your reflections.

    • This is a great comment to read. A need to write a post has been perceived and is targeted at the blog’s audience. As one person has asked the question, there will be many who will also be interested in the response. Michael has used screen grabs and a slideshow to answer this question. Well done on a great application.

  7. This challenge has been a good opportunity to reflect on the sidebar. The minimalist approach seems to suit the ‘Classroom Blog Board’.
    I did open a feedburner account and added ‘subscribe by email’. Thanks to Sue W for the advice. I enjoyed looking at the sidebars of other ‘Challengers’ and have been inspired to learn more about QR codes!

  8. Hello, this was an important lesson for my blog. It was being bogged down with too many things in the sidebar. I hope you’ll check out my post and sidebar and give me a little feedback. Thanks so much in advance! Denise
    A Wall Full of Widgets

  9. Pingback: Widgets | Dare to Care

  10. Hi…I was wondering if you know how to resize a widget? I found a great one from http://wonderopolis.org/get-widget/ but its HUGE!! I’ve tried to change the width & height in the HTML code but it just cuts off the text.
    Please visit my site so you can see what I mean. Any help is greatly appreciated 🙂

    • I couldn’t resist your plea so I did a bit of research. You had to do a couple of things as it is no ordinary widget – it includes a flash file.
      (1) change the param scale from value=noscale to noborder
      (2) adjust the width and height to suit. Using percentages didn’t work for me.

      You can view how it looks on my blog. It’s not going to stay there for long (it’s just a test) so come by in the next couple of days. While there, you might as well read my latest post Reader, you are important to me

      Here’s the altered widget (it might actually be interpreted here as comments accept html tags). If this text embed “fails”, I’ll try and email you, ok?

        • Hi…thanks for trying! I did visit your sight & saw yours if formatted perfectly and I tried out your suggestions…and still not working…I left it up on my page so you can see what I ended up with.

          • I think you’re nearly there as it looks like it has scaled down. You just need to make it wider, e.g. 200 like in mine. The original width was 300. I think 200 will still fit into your left sidebar.

            good luck

  11. Pingback: Why Widgets? | Kevin's Meandering Mind

  12. Pingback: Sidebars can be helpful or confusing | I blog to share and to learn

  13. My widgets work like my mind: an educator with a mild undiagnosed case of ADHD. I am always looking for a happy medium; not too much and not too little. It is important that we have informative things on our sidebars: widgets for visitors, comments, pictures, badges, etc. but it is important that we do not overwhelm wisitors with lots of confusing items. Clean with some interesting tidbits are best.

  14. Pingback: Challenge #7: Cleaning Up My Sidebar | teach to inspire

  15. My post this week is on creating badges – I made one. It’s not my best work of art but it is a proof of concept.

    If you’ve got time, please do drop by and “leave some love”.

    Badge as Blog Bling Get mine or learn how.

    • Wow, Malyn, thanks for having a go at the badge. That was a really challenging activity.

  16. Here is my post on widgets after having done a little tour of blogs, with one eye on a cricket game on TV. The game has not got the attention it deserves so now I am going to turn the computer aside and watch some cricket!
    My post. Widgets

  17. I’ve cleaned up my blog and added a few widgets on the side. Because I don’t have the Pro version, I was limited to what I could add. I would like to have a feedburner widget, but I don’t think it’s possible on my site.

    Thank you to Britt Gow’s post on Clustr Map in her blog – Searching for Widgets: http://brittgow.global2.vic.edu.au/

  18. Hi, here’s my post about my sidebar and some other sidebars as well.
    The mystery of the sidebar

    I am still thinking about my own sidebar and how to organize it, I would welcome comments and ideas on that issue!

  19. Pingback: Add Bling & Legs Teacher Challenge #6 | The Groovy Librarian - Teaching in the 21st Century

  20. Pingback: A Widget Treasure Hunt | Vanessa's Journey

  21. I really liked this challenge. It made me take a closer look at my sidebar information. I still haven’t figured out how to add a portrait and a little bit of information about myself. I still have homework to do. So here is my attempt at this week’s challenge. I hope you enjoy. I also redid a the last challenge with some help. Thanks a bunch.

    Here is my attempt at trying to code my blog for this week. Hope this works.

    Little Bird Track

    -Mrs. Berry

    If not here is the link: http://berryart.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/little-bird-tracks/

  22. Pingback: Cartoons and Puffins, the Magical Media | Dare to Care