5 Steps to Starting a Teacher's Blog
Today's teachers are no longer limited to writing on the blackboard and sending home paper notes. As educators embrace the benefits of technology, more and more teachers are capitalizing on blogs to stimulate learning and effectively communicate with parents and students outside of the classroom walls. Teachers use blogs in a variety of ways, from updating parents to clarifying lessons. Some teachers also invite their students to contribute their thoughts and ideas in blog form, either for the purpose of discussing specific topics or to share their ideas and areas of interest. The opportunities to use blogs in education are infinite, and you may find that your students may actually enjoy blogging! Not only is blogging a creative way to encourage your students to write, but it will also help them learn more about using information technology simultaneously.
Step 1: Choose a Blogging Website
There are many blogging websites available for teachers to use. Most options are free, but some charge a monthly fee. Many services, such as Class Blogmeister and Edublogs, are specifically designed for educators, and these may offer more benefits for a teacher's blog. For example, Class Blogmeister employs safety precautions that filter content that is inappropriate for children accessing the blog platform. Some of the most popular blogging platforms include:
- Class Blogmeister (free and education based)
- EduBlogs (free and education based)
- Blogger (free)
- WordPress (free)
- MoveableType (free)
- TypePad (monthly fee)
- LiveJournal (free)
Step 2: Set Up Your Blog
All of the listed blog platforms allow you to choose a template style and formatting elements that suit your specific blogging needs. Thus, you have some control over the format of the title, sidebars, main body and footer sections of your blog. Consider playing around with the formatting of your blog to specifically suit your classroom's needs. For example, in the sidebar section, you can create different sub-sections of links. Some of these links may be for parents, while others are great research resources for your students. In addition to the design elements, you can also customize the administrative components of your blog. For example, do you wish for comments to be automatically published? Or would you like to read and approve the comments before they are published on the blog? Take a moment to scan the customization elements you have available in the blogging backend to create the right administrative controls.
Step 3: Write Your First Blog Post
Once you have finished creating the format of your blog, it is time to compose your very first post! Your first post sets the tone for the teacher's blog, and it can be a personal introduction, stimulate a topic discussion, or outline how you intend to use the blog. Be open to the different ways in which a blog can evolve. You may want to brainstorm some ideas about how you want to use the blog before you start, but open yourself up to the possibility that your blog may take on a life of its own. Your students may be very proactive and have great suggestions to incorporate into the blog, and by including their ideas, the teacher's blog will stimulate pride of ownership for your students.
Step 4: Include Images and Videos
Another fantastic feature of blogs is the ease with which you can upload images to illustrate a point or enhance a specific topic with visual imagery. You can also imbed video, so long as you aren't infringing on copyrighted material. The following short list of websites provide blogging teachers access to free services for creating slide shows, post cards, online presentations, forms, photos and more.
Step 5: Invite Students to Participate
It is, of course, a personal choice whether or not to invite your students to participate in your blog. You may find, however, that having your students participate enhances the blog and makes it more interesting for them and others to read. You will need to add students as team members or guest bloggers within your blog account settings. Blogging has the potential to connect people to the larger global community. However you choose to use your teacher blog, be creative and have fun with it! It is intended to enrich the education experience for both you and your students.