Blogging First Steps

So, you asked the district to give you a blog. Now what?

Here’s how to get started:

  • Learn a little about what a blog is
  • Understand the benefits of blogging
  • Decide how you want to use the blog (will the teacher write the posts, or will students write the posts?)
  • Set up your profile
  • Customize the theme
  • Create an About Page
  • Add a few key widgets
  • Write your first post

What is a blog?

Why blogging?

Some reasons and benefits of educational blogging are:

  • Sharing learning with others, including parents/guardians and families.
  • Writing for an authentic audience.
  • Motivation that occurs when others respond to the post and comments.
  • Learning Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship by applying it as they blog, instead of a separate lesson out of context.
  • It addresses Common Core Writing Standard #6: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. Note, the Kindergarten Common Core Writing Standard #6 states, “With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.” — Blogging is a fabulous way to address this standard.

 Tagxedo – Tag Cloud with Styles

Examples of Class Blogs

This list was adapted from Sue Waters’ list to include mainly AJUSD blogs as examples. When there wasn’t an example at that grade level, I used the one she suggested.

  1. Kindergarten Duckling – Kindergarten
  2. Miss Mewhorter’s Class – Grade 1
  3. Mrs. Miller’s Class – Grade 2
  4. Mrs. Moore’s Class – Grade 3
  5. Mrs. Renzulli’s Class – Grade 4
  6. Mrs. Hamman’s Class – Grade 5
  7. Mr. Avery’s Classroom Blog – Grade 6 (More math geared)
  8. Mr. Miller’s Classroom Blog – Grade 6 (More Social Studies geared)
  9. Year 6RC​ — Grade 6 class in Australia
  10. Huzzah – Grade 6/7

Customize Your Username 

Your username is the same as the district’s username. This cannot be changed. However, you can change your display name. For example, my district username is twatanab, however, I could change my display name to Mrs. Watanabe.

It’s important to change your display name to something students and your audience will connect with, such as your name.

Customize Your Blog Theme

This is how you customize the look of your blog. Go to Appearance > Themes in your Dashboard.

Setting Up Pages

Go to Pages > Add New and create the following:

  • About Page (to introduce visitors to you, your blog, and what you’ll be blogging about)
  • Guidelines (for commenting norms)

See this post from Mr. Shipley’s blog for ideas of how to get students involved in sharing ideas for your About Page.

See this post for tips on writing Guidelines.

You may also want to include commenting procedures such as:

1) After typing your appropriate comment, proofread it to make sure it:

  • makes sense
  • is spelled correctly
  • follows our grammar rules
  • has correct punctuation

2) Have a partner in your group read it back to you out loud. Edit and revise.

3) After your team agrees that the comment is ready to post, copy the entire comment.

4) Last step:

  • Write only your first name for the commenter.
  • If you have an email address, you can enter this, or enter your teacher’s email, or leave the email blank. It does not show on the screen.
  • If you have a website you would like people to go to, please type that in. Otherwise, you can leave the website blank.
  • Raise your hand if you are in class before submitting comment. If you are at home, please get parental approval before submitting comment.
  • Click “Submit Comment” when your comment is ready.
  • You will need to wait for the teacher to approve your comment, before it is actually published on the blog.

Must-Have Widgets

Go to Appearance > Widgets and drag these recommended widgets to your sidebar:

  • Pages
  • Categories
  • Recent Posts
  • Recent Comments
  • Archive
  • Search
  • ClustrMap
  • Subscribe by email

Resources

Here are two resources that helped me write this post:

Final Thoughts

This post focused mainly on setting up your class blog. Some of the next steps are to think through when you’ll have students engage in blogging, and how to manage that… But it always goes back to the why — which is for student learning.

  • Think about the examples of blogs listed above. What was strong about them? What did they mainly blog about? Who wrote the posts? Who commented?
  • Will your class blog’s posts mainly be written by the teacher or the students?
  • What will you blog about?
  • What questions do you still have?

This post was written for SMES Professional Development.

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