Why blog? Blogs allow users to communicate about a variety of different subjects. In a school library or classroom, blogs allow students to share information about what they’re learning or reading, making them active participants in their own learning and the learning of others, not just in their schools but in the larger world around them. Students are going to communicate via blogging, social networking, and any other way they can find, with or without our influence. Why not use those tools for an educational purpose? Along the way, we may just teach them how to communicate
Before you start blogging… Consider what you want the mission of your blog to be. Do you want to only focus on reviewing books? Do you want your blog to be a promotional tool for your library or classroom? Do you want it to be used primarily as a communication tool for parents? Think about what you want out of your blog and who your target audience is before you start. Explore the different blogging programs. There are a lot out there, and some are blocked in schools. Make sure you don’t start a blog that people in your school will be unable to use. (In Greenville County, we are limited to the district blog server.)
When you’re ready to Enter the Blogosphere… Share your ideas for your blog with your administration and teachers. If they don’t buy in and get excited about what you’re doing, your students won’t either. If you’re a school librarian, work with a few classroom teachers on some blogging lessons. Teach students about how blogs work, netiquette, how to post comments, writing book reviews, and any other skills you deem important. If you’re a classroom teacher, work with your school librarian. I promise you that he/she will be helpful in using this Web 2.0 tool! Look to other professionals for ideas if you get “blogger’s block.” When you’re teaching lessons on blogging, have at least ten posts ready to go so that students have options when learning how to post comments.
Things to consider Make sure you keep the safety of your users in mind. If you or your principal are uncomfortable using real names, have your students create pen names. (They have a lot of fun with this, too!) It’s vital to instruct your students on the rules of netiquette. You may have to re-teach these rules quite often. Post to your blog often (at least once per week)!!!! If you neglect your blog, your users will, too! Have fun with blogging! Let your students know that you love what you’re doing. Your enthusiasm will be contagious!
How can you promote your new blog? Place a link to your blog on your email signature, your website, and on your school’s website. Send out information on the blog in your newsletter. Let the local media know that you’re doing something new to promote reading (or whatever else you may be blogging about). Share the information with your colleagues at meetings and conferences and through email and listservs. Provide incentives to students and teachers who comment on your blog. (I got permission from my principal to do this for our summer reading program.) Tell all of your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest!
My blogsKnight ReaderFork Shoals Reads!Knight Reader JuniorAdventures in Library Land
Highlights of my life as a blogger Comments from authors Comments from readers around the world People who use my reviews to create their reading lists Students getting excited about communicating with others about books, libraries, and reading
For Book Review and Author Blogs… Visit Knight Reader at http://knightreader.wordpress.com, and go to the “Book Review and Author Blogs” page. Please add any other blogs you find in the comments, and I’ll add them to the main page.
Comments and Questions Don’t be afraid to try something new. If it doesn’t work, adapt and try something else. Remember those all-important words—monitor and adjust. If you’d like any of the lesson plans or materials I’ve used to teach blogging at the elementary level, you can email me at email@example.com. You can also email me with questions, concerns, gripes, and anything else when you’re starting your own blogs. I’ll do whatever I can to help you create a successful blog!
Now…who’s readyto get started increating their ownblogs?!
Step One Go to http://blog.greenville.k12.sc.us. Click on “Create a new blog.”
Step Two Enter in a username. (I use my district username) Enter in your preferred email address. Select “Gimme a site!” Click next.
Step Three Type in your blog’s domain (the web address you want). This can be your name or something specific to the blog you’re creating. Select a title for your blog. (This can be changed later.) Select “yes,” and click Signup.
Step Four Activate your blog at your preferred email address. Click on the FIRST link in the email notice. You will be directed to a site stating that your blog is active. Copy the password listed there. You’ll have a chance to change it later.
Step Five Log in to your blog! Enter your username, and paste the password that was emailed to you. You should be directed to a site that looks something like the screen shot below. If you screen doesn’t go to this, don’t freak out! There’s probably a simple fix.
Step Six Before we get to the fun stuff, we need to set our discussion settings. Click on “Settings” and select the “Discussion” menu. Next to “Before a comment appears,” deselect the “comment author” option, and select “An administrator must always approve the comment.” Scroll down and save changes.
Step Seven Still in the “Settings” menu, click on “General.” Change (or delete) the default tagline. (You can also change the title of your blog or your email address here.) Scroll down and save changes.
Step Eight Now we’re getting to the good part…choosing your theme! Go to the appearance menu, and select themes. You can choose whichever theme you want. Just make sure you pick one that’s easy on the eyes! You can preview your theme before committing. Once you find one you like, activate and save that theme. You can change this theme anytime!
Step Nine We’ll now add a “Meta” widget to your blog. This will allow you to log in or out directly from your blog. In the appearance menu, select widgets. Drag the “Meta” widget to one of your sidebars on the right.
Step Ten Let’s write our first post! In the Posts menu, select “all posts.” There’s already a post there, so we’ll edit that one to fit our blogs. Change the title to something like “Welcome to our class blog!” Enter your first message. When you’re finished, click Update.
This is what this new blog lookslike right now…
Final stuff I haven’t begun to cover everything about creating your blogs. Play with it! (Don’t be afraid to press buttons!) I promise, if you make a mistake, it can always be undone! If you need extra help, you can email me or visit http://www.greenville.k12.sc.us/Departments/main.asp ?titleid=acad_techblogs for A LOT of instructions on setting up your blog. It includes some advanced stuff, like embedding videos or things from other sites, customizing your blog, and much more. There will likely be sessions at the UTC this summer on using blogs in the classroom. Make sure to attend! For ideas, go to http://blog.greenville.k12.sc.us, and click on some of the blogs that have recently been updated. Some of them are pretty awesome!