Creating a classroom blog: blog platforms and how to set up a blogger

Setting up your blog-01Yesterday, I introduced the one tool I implemented last year that saved my life -a classroom blog – so that you can create your own. Taking the leap to use a blog in my classroom was a no-brainer for me, but I promise you do not have to be a blogging expert to effortlessly set up and use your own classroom blog. A classroom blog is so effortless to use and doesn’t need to take a great deal of time on a daily basis. Regardless of my comfort level with blogs, there were a few hurdles I had to jump through in terms of deciding my blog platform, which company I’d use, and how to set it up. So today we’ll talk briefly about different platforms and then we’ll jump into creating a Blogger for your classroom. Let’s get started!

Platforms: There are many different blog platforms available to you today. Some of the most common are WordPress, Blogger, Weebly and Tumblr; all of which have free options. WordPress is my go-to for Pink Slip Inspiration because I can customize it to my heart’s desire and works much better for a business site. But when it comes to creating a classroom blog, Blogger is hands down the best choice in my opinion for several reasons.

  • Why Blogger is the way to go for your classroom blog:
    • It’s a simpler, easy to use platform that will make posting a breeze
    • It is a Google product and works seamlessly with Google Apps for Education (Docs, Gmail, Forms, you name it)
    • If your students already have a Google/Gmail email address, they already have access to blogger built in! Which means, once your students get comfortable using your blog, they can create their own. Super awesome… more on that later and how we transformed Literature Circles with student blogs.
    • It allows you to easily have a blog and stagnant website in one

So let’s get started and create your own Blogger Classroom Blog today! My students can set up their own blogs in two class periods… so imagine how much you could get done this afternoon 🙂

How to set up your Blogger. Follow this step by step process:

  1. Head on over to Blogger.com
  2. Click on “New Blog”
  3. Create a title for your blog (e.g. Blogging with Mrs. West) no stress, you can change this later as many times as you want
  4. Create your web address or URL. This cannot be changed after you’ve started. So try to find something that will be easy for your students and parents to remember. (e.g. mrsjwest.blogspot.com) All addresses will have blogspot.com unless you pay for custom domain name
  5. Don’t worry about selecting a template now, you can select this later in design mode.
  6. Click “Create Blog”!

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 9.53.57 AM

Your blog is now set up! And here is where the fun begins. It’s time to design your space. You’ll be directed to your dashboard next. This dashboard page will show you a preview of your blog in the center and the command features are all located in the left sidebar.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 9.51.48 AM

  1. Click on the “Template” tab in the left sidebar.
  2. When selecting a template, you’re selecting the general aesthetic and layout of your blog. Once you’ve selected your template you will be able to customize all backgrounds, colors, fonts, etc.
  3. Select a template: You can change it later if you dislike it.
  4. At the top of the template page click on “customize”
  5. Explore the “background,” “adjustable widths,” “layout,” and “advanced settings” to customize your blog.

While customizing your blog make sure to take advantage of all aspects of the page, especially the sidebar. In your sidebar you can add “gadgets” in the “layout” tab. These gadgets allow you to insert a place for parents to subscribe to your blog to receive daily updates of what’s going on in your class. You can add resources for your students. Fun images that speak to you and your class, etc.

Have fun and play around with the design of your page today. Make yourself comfortable with the site and how it all works. Come back tomorrow to see how to create a post on your blog. I’ll go over how it works in my classroom and you can come up with a vision that works for you 🙂

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