Write Your Own Blog First


Before you can expect your students to write and manage blogs, you must first truly understand
what blogs are and how they can have an impact on teaching and learning. The only way to do
that is to have your own blog first.

Getting started with your own blog


While there are many blogging tools available to teachers, one of the best is Edublogs.
The basic blog is free, easy to set up and manage, and well supported. Getting your own blog is easy.

NEW Gail Desler's FANTASTIC guide to getting and maintaining your own blog at Edublogs!

Follow these steps:

  1. Visit the Edublogs site and sign up. (See Gail's Guide, link above; Her directions are clear and easy to follow and she includes screen captures for a great visual guide).
  2. Record your user name and password and other pertinent information (like your URL). Your user name is part of your url. For example, my user name is dhogue, so my blog url is http://dhogue.edublogs.org. Once you establish the basic information, you will be sent a password and be able to log in and edit your blog.
  3. Think of what your blog will be used for and come up with a title. The title will reflect your goals and interests. Some typical purposes: self reflection, professional development, course management. Don't stress out too much about the name at first. Learn to manage and edit your blog and the title will come to you. The title can be changed at any time.
  4. Choose a theme. Edublogs offers a lot of cool themes to choose from. If you really want to customize the look, find a theme that has a customizable header (picture at top). Then you can insert your own image. Be sure you can create an image to fit, as blog headers are a specific size; mine is 970 x 140 pixels, which is very narrow and horizontal. You won't be able to just crop a 4 x 6 inch picture to fit. The image must also be low resolution (72 pixels per inch) for the web.
  5. Play with your widgets. A Widget ready theme (most of them are now) also offers opportunities for customizing. Be sure you always have the Meta widget in your sidebar (to make it easier to login to your blog). As you look at other teacher blogs, you'll get ideas for your own. The more you play the more you will learn.
  6. Get your Akismet spam tool working. Trust me, this is very important and worth the time it takes to set it up. You'll first need to get your Akismet key. To get the key, you must first get a WordPress account, just a user name, not a blog. In your Wordpress account profile, you will find your Akismet key. Then, back in your Edublogs blog, when you are ready to activate Akismet, click on the Plugins tab and click activate. There will be a space at the top for you to type in your Akismet key. Please keep your key recorded somewhere, as you can use it again on other Wordpress blogs.
  7. Add some links to your blogroll. Click on the Manage tab, then click links and add away. It would be good to have an idea first about some blogs or sites you want to link to. Blogrolls are kind of little "halls of fame." Yours will represent your opinion of good blogs you read. So it's almost like your blog review.
  8. After today: write, play, learn. To write, click on the Write tab and write. : ) You may want to save a draft and publish only after you have proofed and considered your post. Categorize your post. Go to Manage/Categories and add a number of categories you will likely use or add them as you think of them. Do add tags. Tags are little mini "headlines" that indicate the main subjects in your blog post. Tags help others find you through Web searches. So if you're writing about using video games to teach math, you might use tags "games," "math_lessons," "interactive," or whatever seems right to you.
  9. Read other educational bloggers. This is part of blogging, too. Making the connection to others who share your interest is part of the Read/Write Web. Your best professional development may come from the relationships you build through your online connections.
  10. Comment! Read Ryan Bretag's blog post about the transformative power of educational blogging.

Teach Students to be Responsible Bloggers


Make sure students
  • Have a purpose for writing
  • Link to worthwhile sites and respond
  • Research and support claims
  • Draft and proofread prior to publishing

Resources



Back to Technology &Teaching | Back to SITA 2008: Using Blogs and Wikis in the Classroom
NEW indicates links that are new since the SITA class, August 5, 2008.