10 Blogging Tips for Students and Teachers

As I work with students and other teachers on setting up blogs, I find myself giving them lots of little tips that I have picked up over my own blogging journey.

Many of these ideas have originally come from some of my blogging “mentors” such as Linda Yollis and Sue Waters.

Here are 10 12 Blogging Tips for Students and Teachers

Post frequency: Find a balance. Don’t post too often (ie. daily) otherwise you will not be able to generate much conversation through commenting. Post too infrequently (ie. monthly) and your readers might start to forget about you. I advise my students to post once or twice a week.

Reply to comments: I am often disappointed at how many student and adult bloggers there are who do not reply to their comments on their own blog. I feel that it is basic blogging etiquette to reply. Acknowledge your readers’ comments and they will be encouraged to comment again.

Have an “about” page: The first thing I do when I visit a new blog is look at the About page. I am always disappointed when there isn’t one! Don’t keep your readers in the dark about who you are.

Theme changes: Students love playing around with the different themes available when they first start blogging. I encourage them to explore for a week or so but then advice them to find a good theme and stick with it. Readers may be able to identify less with your blog if it looks different every time they visit it.

Fun widgets: Young bloggers love widgets! In my opinion, it is advisable to limit “fun” or “novelty” widgets. Too many widgets take away from the actual content of the blog posts and can slow down loading time! I suggest my students have no more than three “fun widgets” such as virtual pets, Christmas countdowns, jokes, tips, music clips etc.

Add a search box: Early on in the year, I teach my students how to use the search box on blogs to find content. I find it frustrating when blogs don’t have the search box. This simple tool allows readers to find what they’re looking for and means when your posts are no longer on the front page, they won’t be lost.

Subscribe via email: While I also use Google Reader and Twitter to keep track of blogs I like, I love having the ability to subscribe via email to my favourite blogs. Adding this feature could bring more regular visitors to your blog.

Add links to blog posts and comments: Links help your visitors gain a deeper understanding of what they’re reading. Links in blog posts can also be used to acknowledge or compliment others’ work. Links in blog comments can add extra information to a conversation. If you don’t know how to add a link to a blog comment, check out Linda Yollis’ excellent blog post and quick video.

Visit other blogs: You can’t expect many people to read and comment on your blog if you don’t read and comment on others’ blogs. You have to be part of the blogging community to get the most out of blogging.

End with a question: On my class blog and this blog I like to end with a question to stimulate and direct conversation in the comment section. My Grade Two bloggers are learning how to ask “broader” questions that will appeal to more readers (eg. if a child writes a post about a holiday to Noosa, instead of simply asking “have you ever been to Noosa?” they could ask readers to leave a comment and describe a holiday they have been on).

Don’t lose your comment: All my students now know how to copy (Control C), their comment before they hit “submit”. This allows them to paste (Control V) the comment if something goes wrong when they hit the “submit” button. This happens fairly frequently with young students due to the wrong spam word being entered etc. Read Grade Two student Millie’s post about this here.

Left align your writing: I used to be guilty of centering all of my text until I realised this is not easy on the eye and not what professional writers do (always good to look to the professionals for guidance when in doubt). Style guides usually suggest that centred text is best for invitations, posters, headings etc.

Are any of these tips new ideas for you?

What other blogging tips can you think of? There must be lots more!

Why I think Blogs Should be Public

I have had a number of educators have asked me in the past about my privacy guidelines for my class blog. Recently, an educator contacted me for advice when their principal would not allow their class blog to be public. That is, the principal would not allow blogging unless the blog was completely password protected.

I disagree with this for a number of reasons.

I believe in educating, not blocking.

Cyber safety is an extremely important issue and one that I have blogged about in the past. There are many ways to teach about cyber safety and in my own experience, blogging has been the ideal avenue to teach my young students about this topic and appropriate online behaviours.

Through blogging, all my students know not to publish their surnames or reveal other personal information about themselves including passwords. They also know that what they publish on the internet is forever and cannot be taken back. My students are becoming aware of correct netiquette.

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If my blog was password protected, these sorts of guidelines would not be as relevant and would be more difficult to teach.

It is important that we give our students experience using online technologies in a supervised environment. Technology is not going away. If we do not teach the children how to use technologies like blogs safely and appropriately then we are doing them a disservice.

It my opinion, it is more harmful to “protect” students through a closed blog than it is to open their eyes to the real world of online technologies through open blogs.

To me, having a closed blog feels like “pretending to use technology” and the full benefits of blogging cannot experienced.

One of the most rewarding experiences my class has had through blogging has been making connections with classes all around the world. The learning that has taken place through these experiences has been priceless and a closed blog would not have allowed for this. Read about just some of these collaborative experiences here here and here.

What do you think about the issue of public/private blogs?

New Blog: Teaching Literacy in the Early Years

This year I have been team teaching with Kelly Jordan. Combining our two grade two classes has so many benefits and we are finding we are really meeting the needs of our students this year.

Our open plan classroom is a fantastic place to teach and learn!

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Kelly has recently started a blog called Teaching Literacy in the Early Years. If you or someone you know teaches in the junior primary area you should definitely check this blog out.

Kelly posts about Literacy sites, ideas, thoughts, resources and strategies with others.

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Drop by “Teaching Literacy in the Early Years” and leave Kelly a comment!