Welcome to the sixth step in our free professional learning series on class and student blogging!
- Explain why it’s important to help parents and students connect with your class blog.
- Show common problems parents and students have locating class blogs.
- Suggest 21 ways you can help parents and students find and use your class blog.
Why help parents and students connect?
All teachers know that family involvement in schooling is a key predictor of a child’s success.
With many families juggling full time work and other commitments, we need to come up with new ways to keep up the levels of family involvement. Blogging is a great way to do this.
- Class blogs are an excellent way for parents to find out what is happening in class and what their child is learning.
- Students love seeing their work published online and adore getting comments from people. Comments motivate 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.
If you want to get the most out of your class blog, you need to help parent and students easily find your blog and engage with it.
For those of you who are teaching young adults, one of your main aims might be discovering ways to get your students actively engaged with your class blog.
Education is key when aiming to get families to join in your blogging community. We can’t assume that parents (or students) bring any blogging knowledge or skills with them when they join your classroom.
While it can be easy to educate students about blogging during your face-to-face time (or learn with them), it’s important to come up with different ways to educate parents. Family members won’t be willing or able to get involved in blogging if they don’t know anything about it.
You want your message to be clear, easily accessible, dynamic, and ongoing.
Like students, parents have different learning preferences and it can be a good idea to offer parents a range of different ways to learn about blogging. We offer lots of ideas further on.
Finding your blog on the internet
If you want families to connect with your blog, it’s important that they know how to find it and return to it. This is an important step that can’t be overlooked.
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. There is too much room for error with these approaches.
Searching for a teacher’s website using Google can be a very frustrating exercise. There can be millions of Google search results and many teachers across the globe with the same name as you.
It’s easy for students (or you) to write 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.
Mistake 1: First part of the blog URL incorrect
If the first part of your blog URL is typed incorrectly they are redirected to the 404 not found error page.
Mistake 2: Edublogs.org spelled wrong
Missed the s in edublogs
Forgot the l in edubogs
Mistake 2: The URL is written as an email address
What you need to do
Most experienced educators use several different methods to help parents and students:
- Understand what is a blog and how they can participate.
- Easily find the class blog online.
- Feel encouraged to get involved throughout the whole year. Having regular opportunities in place for education and involvement will ensure a steady pattern of engagement throughout the year.
21 Ideas To Help Educate And Involve Families And Students
The most important tip is to make sure 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 incorrectly — copying/pasting your blog URL ensures you get the URL correct every time!
1) Include Your Name In The Blog URL
Your blog in the URL name allows you the flexibility to keep the blog if you change subject areas or year levels in the coming school years.
Simple is always best!
http://mrswaters.edublogs.org/ is easier to remember than http://mrswBPSRoom 124.edublogs.org/
Here are some examples of class blogs that have the teacher’s name in the URL.
- Mrs. Hamman’s Class Blog – http://blogs.goaj.org/mrshamman/
- Mrs. Mooney’s Class Blog – http://mrsmooney.edublogs.org/
- Ms. Saltau’s Class – http://sarahjane.edublogs.org/
- Mr. Cartlidge’s Science Blog – http://mrcartlidge.edublogs.org/
2) Business Card Magnet
Create and distribute “business cards” as the start of the year with your class blog URL and email address (plus any other important information such as school phone number, term dates, school website etc.).
You could create business cards with a free template from a site like Canva or Adobe Spark.
After printing and laminating, you could attach a strip of self adhesive magnetic tape on the back which you’ll find at many discount stores.
3) QR Codes
A QR code is an excellent shortcut to access a website. You simply create one online using a tool like QR Stuff or QR Code Generator.
People simply open the photo app on their phone or tablet and scan the QR code to be directed straight to the website.
- Add a QR code to your business card above
- Have students create their own QR code and print it for a note to go home about the blog
- Add a QR code to the footer of all your classroom notes like in the example below.
4) Newsletter Links
Include the link to your class blog in the school newsletter or send home your own newsletter (you could even have the class create a dedicated blogging newsletter).
At the start of 2018, parents were told about the class blogs at Beaconsfield Primary School in the school newsletter.
Regular reminders can help! You can mention specific blog posts that families could visit.
5) Add Links To Your School Website
Many schools set up pages on their school website with a directory to class blogs. Take a look at the example from Berwick Lodge Primary School.
If you have your own teacher blog, you might like to add the link to your class blog there as well.
6) Explain Browser Bookmarks
It’s a good idea to teach students or families how to bookmark a favorite website. This might seem simple to you but could be a skill that’s new to others.
Computer Hope offers some really easy to follow instructions for bookmarking in different browsers. You could even email something like this to families or older students.
7) Add A Link To Your Email Signature
This simple idea reminds colleagues and parents to check out your class blog whenever you’re in touch with them.
Below is an example from Linda Yollis.
8) Create Detailed Parent Handouts
There is a lot to know about effectively navigating the class blog so you might consider creating a handout for parents.
You could cover information such as:
- Blog jargon
- Subscribing to email updates
- Leaving and replying to comments
- Using the Google calendar
- Searching the blog
- How to become part of our wider blogging community
Here’s an example from Kathleen Morris.
A guide to navigating your class blog is even something students could create themselves. And of course, it doesn’t have to be a paper guide. A digital or email version might work for your families.
Sheri Edwards’ class in Washington State also created a handout for families which you can find on their blog. It’s designed to help parents know what is a blog, the blog URL, and why they blog.
Want to learn more about consent forms and blogging? Check out our guide to obtaining permission to blog with students.
9) Add Information Pages To Your Blog
Pages are the ideal way to publish static information on your blog. You might choose to help educate your families about blogging through information on a page.
A “learn about blogging” set of pages on a class blog can explain to all readers (including parents) what a blog is, the benefits of blogging, and how to comment.
Kelly Jordan, used these pages on her 2017 class blog if you want to get ideas.
For readers who prefer a more visual description, a video tutorial can explain how to comment. This can be posted on a page of the class blog for easy reference.
Below is an example created for Miss Jordan’s class blog.
Tip: This video was created with a Chrome extension tool called Screencastify but there are many screencasting tools available.
10) Hold Parent Information Nights
Many classes hold these events at the beginning of a school year. Why not put blogging on the agenda?
When Kathleen Morris’s old blogging buddy in California, Linda Yollis, held a back to school information night, she skyped in to discuss the benefits of blogging with her families.
Maybe you could get a former student, parent, or colleague to help you with your presentation?
11) Parent Email Newsletter
Sending a regular e-newsletter to parents can be a great way to offer blogging news or tips (along with other classroom news and reminders).
A newsletter can also be a platform to thank the parents who have been commenting, and invite parents to comment on particular posts. Being specific on what you want parents to comment on can increase participation.
12) Posts For Parents
This idea was originally inspired by Henrietta Miller. You can achieve a big increase in parent participation when publishing a post specifically based around a question for parents.
Miss Jordan’s class have an example post on their blog where parents were asked about old technologies.
13) Host A Family Blogging Afternoon
This is a concept Kathleen Morris created where family members were personally invited into the classroom by the students. Students would teach their special guest about blogging through a scavenger hunt type activity.
You can find a post about this event on her class blog.
14) Host A Family Blogging Month
Encouraging parents and families to comment 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. This is a concept Linda Yollis came up with.
During Family Blogging Month, students try to get as many family members as possible to comment on their class blog. 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 (e.g. a donated voucher and/or a guest post on the class blog).
As Linda noted on her blog,
Mrs. Yollis created the idea of Family Blogging Month back on April 1, 2010. The participation, the quality of the commenting, the interaction and learning that transpired via this classroom blog makes Mrs. Yollis beam with pride.
Not only are her students and their family members becoming superior writers, but they are also honing important digital skills like how to communicate and contribute online, how to limit personal information on the Internet, and how to develop a dynamic digital footprint.
Students look through the archive of the blog to find posts that might interest specific family members.
Visit Mrs. Yollis’ class blog to find out more about Family Blogging Month.
15) Students Letters To Parents
Organize for your students to write a letter to their parents to introduce the class blog and explain how the class will use the blog.
Here are student letter examples from Land of Year 4’s Class blog.
16) Virtual Volunteers
Linda Yollis has shared the idea of having parents act as virtual volunteers on a roster basis. Rather than helping students in the classroom, they can assist online by replying to students and engaging in conversations.
17) Parent Blogging Rep
Some classrooms have a parent representative to assist with various tasks and events. Would a blogging rep work in your class?
The rep could organize your virtual volunteer roster, invite families to read and comment on posts, respond to comments, or, depending on skills, assist with tasks like photography and the creation of multimedia.
18) Blogging Homework
Depending on your homework policies and procedures, you could incorporate blogging into homework tasks that involve family members.
Example task prompts could include:
- Show a family member a blogging buddies’ site and leave a comment together.
- Write an invitation to a friend or family member to comment on a specific post.
19) Parent Guest Posts
Parents bring a wealth of information to your classroom community.
Traditionally, some parents might present to the class on their career or hobby from time to time. Why not adapt this format by having parents write guest posts for your class blog?
Alternatively, you could have students interview parents or community members for posts.
20) Don’t Forget Grandparents And Other Family Members
Your ready-made audience doesn’t only consist of parents, of course. There may be other family members, including grandparents, who would love to become part of your blogging community but just need guidance or encouragement.
Linda Yollis has had great success with some grandparents becoming particularly interested in her class blog. Bubbe, a 92 year old great-grandmother guest posted on her blog and Nonno, an Italian grandfather was once a regular contributor.
The role these community members played in the students’ development was priceless.
21) Set Up An Email Subscription
Add an email subscription widget so parents can subscribe for notification of new posts.
Our tutorial walks you through the simple set up process.
Note: This feature is only available on Pro blogs and CampusPress blogs.
Get Parents Involved Infographic
This infographic might be handy to help you come up with ideas throughout the school year. Perhaps you have a colleague you could share it with too?
We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about student blogging by completing the following tasks:
- Read through our 21 ideas above and choose one or more of these 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.
- Read through the most recent comments in reply to this step and leave a response to another person’s comment.
325 thoughts on “Step 6: Help parents and students connect”
Thank you for all the great ideas. I can’t wait to implement some of these ideas on my blog.
I believe that the Parent Blogging Rep is an interesting and easy way to organize things such as tasks, events, rosters, and invitations to parents/guardians. This grasped my attention and I think it would be beneficial to use in my classroom as a future educator
I liked the business card idea with a QR code. I think that was very easy and accessible for parents.
Those are some good choices! I liked the link to email signature and posts for parents.
So many great ideas! QR codes are a really good way to give families a way to instantly go to a learners blog. I create a
fridge magnet to send home to families and include a QR code.
I created the QR code as well, I didnt know it was that easy to create.
I’ll be adding a QR Code to newsletters and a link below my email closing so that parents can easily find the class blog. I think if students also make bookmarks with a QR code to their blog, it would be really easy to give some to family. All in hopes of reading the work and leaving comments for the student bloggers.
P.S. #12 and 13 links in Edublogs 21 ideas no longer work.
I will be adding the blog site URL to my monthly newsletter which can also be accessed online from the school website. I will also like the idea of adding the link to my email signature. The parent/family handout is also a great idea and would be something that I could pass out on Back-to-School Night. Finally, it was already in the plans to use the blog for students to post to at the very least once a week, so the blog homework fits in perfectly with that.
A link in my email and including it on my syllabus seems like a great way to alert parents and students about the blog.
mlindley, agreed! I am going to start out by including a link on our Google Classroom to make it easy for students to find and a link in my email for parents and community members to see it easily as well.
Mainly I would use blogging homework in my blog to ensure participation from students.
I agree that using it as homework is a great way to ensure participation.
Really cute idea is a magnetic business card that way they know just how to get in touch with me all the time.
Completely agree! I love the idea. I’ve done this to promote our classroom Twitter and it’d be perfect for blog sites too.
I created a QR code which will could be emailed to the parents
I love that Idea…
I thinknit would be great to include my school website since some of them were able to access it already.
I agree with you about the school website and I also believe utilizing blogging hw would be helpful it getting students to participate.
I love the idea of a QR code on a teacher business card. I also think it’s a fun idea to have parents invited to create guest posts. It helps them feel special and involved.
Parent guest posts would be fabulous. Perhaps a follow-up activity after visiting the classroom or the activity itself to generate questions and discussion. Love it!
For my blog I will put my name in the url, add links to my school website, add a linking my email signature, and set up an email subscription.
My name is in my title!
I included my name in the blog title on my page.
There were a lot of good ideas for connecting with families. I would use a variation of a few ideas. I would create a scavenger hunt for the blog with my students. Creating the scavenger hunt would help students explore the blog and become familiar with its contents and build excitement. Then I would email the scavenger hunt to the parents with a link to the blog. The parents would then use the questions on the scavenger hunt to investigate the blog and answer questions. Finally, parents would comment on the blog to indicate they had successfully completed the scavenger hunt. I am adding a temporary page on my blog so I can share an idea of what the scavenger hunt may look like.
That is such a good idea, it’s a fun way to get the whole family involved! Let us know how this works out, we would love to hear the results.
I decided to make a contact/business card. It looks very neat on my class blog and easily accessible!
This looks so good! I think I may do this in the future… thanks for the inspiration!
Hello guys. After reading through the ways to connect students with parents, I chose to create a business card. I created a new post with my business card and helpful information for parents. I am also sending my students home with a magnetic business card as well so they will be able to hang it on their fridge/ and view it online. Take a look and see what you think.
Your business card looks great! You’ve done a really beautiful job with your blog. What theme did you use?
I would like to try to include my blog information in my syllabus as well as in an info graph. I think the syllabus is a great way to share it with everyone who needs to connect to it. The info graph is a fun way to physically give the parents every step to finding the blog and it goes more in depth than just leaving the link in my syllabus.
I like your idea about the info graph! What a great tool to get information out to the parents.
Even though I love the “Blogging Volunteer” idea, it wont work with my demographic, although it would be amazing! The one thing I did make sure to do is add an informational page for parents to learn about blogging, and what I’m trying to accomplish with my class.
I love so many of these ideas. I will have a link in my email as I’m always emailing parents about things. I will need to draw their attention to it though. I think the QR code is great too, but has its limitations as papery things often don’t make it home. If we continue with blogging into the new year I will definitely talk about it at the information evening that we have for parents and have cards printed up with the QR code and address of the blog to hand out then.
That’s a great idea having cards printed up with the QR code and address of the blog to hand out to parents. Making it quicker and easier for parents to get access will go a long way to encouraging parent participation.
Great choice! As a teacher your main form of communication with parents is through email. It’s better to be safe than sorry and add it just incase!
I totally agree with you, there are lots of great ways to communicate with parents. I think you have a great idea by emailing the parents. This way information doesn’t get lost. I decided to create a business card with information. I posted it on my blog, and also am sending the students home with a magnetic business card with all my information.
Does anyone know of a FREE QR Code provider? I know that most of them have freebie options to get started, but i want to use multiple QR codes to link to YouTube playlists. At this stage it seems very expensive to get a subscription so i would really appreciate some help if you have any tips or recommendations here please!
I have posted a link to the classroom blog on Google Classroom giving my students and their families permanent access. I also added a link with my email signature to give parents access.
I am going to try a QR code as well as adding a link to my email signature. I think the QR code is something parents are familiar with. I also communicate so often through email, if they see my link in an email, I am likely to have them click on it. In addition, maybe additional audience members will join and benefit from the postings. 🙂
I think a parent blogging introduction is a must to make them feel more comfortable with the concept of blogging. I think this could be done during my curriculum night presentation. I also like the idea of having grandparents get involved with blogging.
I like this comment. We have a difficult time getting parents to attend curriculum nights, school events, etc. I would love to host a night personalized for their child- I think sometimes parents don’t attend school wide events because they think it is just routine and not beneficial or the same info repeated time and time again. If I personalize it for their learner and themselves, I think we could have more buy in. And hey, if I get excited, they will probably get excited too!
There are several different things that I want to try. I would definitely add a link to the blog in the weekly email. I would also have a link on our schools digital management system. I think it would be a great idea to host an information night as well as have some required assignments on their blog. Another thing that I would like to do is require parents to comment on one of their child’s posts. I think that would be motivating for both the parent and the student. My goal is to make student blogs seem like a completely normal part of their schooling. It should be second nature for them to want to post their learning and look at and comment on their friends’ posts. I think my biggest hurdle is going to be to remember to go slow and be consistent.
I like your idea of having parents comment on their child’s posts as part of a homework assignment.
Parental comments would be a huge boost to the confidence of my students. I am looking forward to their involvement.
I like your idea of linking to the blog in your weekly email. Slow and consistent is the key but, like you, I have so many things I want to implement.
Have you thought about what would happen if a parent didn’t have time or was disinterested in commenting? I know it’s not ideal but sometimes not everyone is as enthusiastic as we are, especially as a child gets older and progresses through the school. Maybe you could start the blogs up and guide parents through commenting at an information night with computers ready to use so they can try right away.
I think your idea of parent participation will be very encouraging for your students. I hope it works out.
There are a lot of ideas I want to try as well. I think it is a good idea to have some mandatory assignments for students to do on the class blog. I think it will also be hard to be slow and steady when introducing blogging to the students.
I am taking the idea of creating a business card to share with parents at Open House night. I don’t think mine will be a magnet though, to keep the cost down. Does anyone have a recommendation for the best way to get these printed?
Maybe you could print small individual cards and laminate them? I do that with a lot of things especially password cards for all of their different sites that we use. It’s cheap and it works. You could even add magnet dots to the back.
The ideas I really liked include the following: business card magnet, QR code, parent guest post, family blogging afternoon, and the grandparent idea. These are all really creative! I think it is great to get parents and extended family involved in the lives of the students.
I introduced the idea of using blogging as a learning tool in a parent – teacher meeting, most of them were interested, I also tried to answer all their questions about safety on-line etc. We watched videos and I showed them the blog that I am creating. I also find the idea of writing letters to parents appealing.
Great work! We also just published some new resources on The Edublogger last week to help teachers introduce blogging to colleagues and families. This might help at a later stage.
Edublogs Community Manager
I agree with you. I think it is paramount to discuss digital citizenship with students in class.
I added an email subscription to my home page. I also like the idea of having students write a letter home to their parents/guardians and one to grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other relatives. I like the idea of getting more families involved. I may need to add a translate widget as many of our families do not speak or read English.
From the ideas above I used QRCode, I find it simple and amicable. I also posted the URL to the school’s Facebook, Webpage and my Teacher Web Page. At the moment, a week in the project, even though parents have approached and congratulated on the idea, they have remained on the sideline.
Same here! Parents approve of my ideas, but they don’t want to be involved in it.
Considering all possibilities, Add Information Pages To Your Blog would be the one to use in the class blog.
I’m going to talk about not forgetting grandparents and other family members because it’s important to understand that all students don’t come from a “complete”family. Some are raised by their grandparents or siblings or aunts or uncles or guardians and it’s important to acknowledge this.
I completely agree with you. Recognizing and supporting students who live with someone other than their biological parents is important. It creates a safe environment for all of our students. I also am going to extend writing multiple letters to family who live elsewhere, like a favorite aunt or uncle.
I am going to try to do the student letters to parents because this is a great way to introduce the class blog to the parents by the students writing a letter to them and explaining how we are using it in class.
Hi Ms. Musa,
I agree with you. This is a great way to introduce the class blog to parents and it will give them a better understanding of how we are using it.
I am going to try emailing the newsletter to the parents. I believe that is more beneficial than sending home paper copies. Some parents do not bother to read the paper copies so digital copies saves the environment.
Hi Ms. Coleman,
I believe that is an effective way for parents to learn about the class blog like you said she parents do not look at paper copies.
I am really keen to upload homework tasks on the blog
I added a link to our school’s Facebook Page. https://www.facebook.com/roseburghighschool/
I suggested that my student can add their parents/guardians if they wish but that they don’t have to; their blogs should be their blogs, not just another school assignment.