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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Blogging Teacher: Setting Up Your Classroom Page

Blogs ("web logs") are an effective way to communicate with parents and the school community about the learning and events taking place in your classroom. As a teacher, using a blog page as a method of sharing news and information can be helpful to parents (and students) by allowing them access to these things online - rather than by paper handouts and agenda writing.

By customizing features of your blog page, you can ensure that this blog page functions just as you intended and does not bring more grief than good. This is my current classroom blog page (grade 8 class). This post will describe how to get started blogging as a teacher.

Here are some simple steps to creating and using blogs as a teacher (using

1. Create a "google account" if you do not already have one (
2. Once activated, choose "create blog" to initiate the blog.
3. Once you have chosen a web address, title and background - you are ready to blog!
4. As a communication tool for parents, you may want to enter the "Settings" area and change some of the default options. For example:

* Change default so your blog is not added to the blogger listing
* Change default so search engines cannot find your blog

* Change default in Timestamp format so the time posted is not shown - only the date (no one needs to know when you are posting to your blog)

* Change default so "Hide" is chosen for comments
* Choose "Only members of this blog can comment" - that way you can email people that you would like to participate in your online blog experience by posting comments.
* Choose "Always moderate comments"
* Choose "word verification" needed.

* If you share a classroom or would like another teacher to be able to post writing to your blog page, you can "Add Author" by sending them an email and requesting to be an author of your blog page.

5. In the "Design" area, you may wish to remove the "Followers" gadget which is included on your blog page by default. You may also wish to remove the "About Me" page if you would like to avoid needing to give a personal description of yourself on your site.

6. I would recommend adding the "Pages" gadget to your blog page which will allow you to add new pages that deal with different subjects or areas in an organized way (e.g. News, Student Assignments, Forms and Letters, Calendars). To do this, go into "Design" and click on the "Add a Gadget" option directly below the title header. Scroll down and choose the 4th option "Pages."

7. If you create your class calendars in Microsoft Publisher, you can add them to your class page by saving them in Publisher as a "jpeg" file not a .pub file. In your blog page options, choose "New Post" and find the "Add Image" icon at the top of the post and find where you saved your calendar as a .jpeg file. You can then alter the size and alignment. This is the same process if you want to add a picture from the internet into a blog post.

You now have a blog that is setup to communicate with parents. You may wish to send home a letter describing how you wish to use this internet resource. In this letter, you will definitely want to include the blog's web address, so parents know where to find it. If your school can link it to the school's webpage that is an even better way to directing traffic to your site.

If you have any questions about this process, please comment to this post and I will do my best to steer you in the right direction. Thanks and enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Hey Fin Man,
You are a great and patient teacher when it comes to supporting people with their understanding/use of technology. Your info on this site will continue to help me with my BLOG.

Mr. Finney said...

Thanks so much, "Anonymous." I hope you enjoy the journey and find the use in this approach to communicating with parents. Keep up the innovative work and you'll reap the benefits in how you carry out this job.

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