Today’s essential question: How can I integrate a class blog into my instruction?
Reasons to start a class blog:
- Communication with students, parents, and administrators
- Creates a record of curriculum taught
- Resource for differentiation (link to tutorials and bonus articles) and way for students who missed class to catch themselves up
- Can be accessed from anywhere
- Saves time
- no more time spent at the copier – everything is online
- can copy and paste blog posts from year to year
Reasons for students to have their own blogs:
- Document evidence of student growth
- Easy method of formative assessment for teacher
- Way for students to communicate with the teacher and each other (via comments and references in blog posts); we refer to it as our “art class social media”
Pages vs Posts
There are two ways to add information to your blog – posts and pages.
Pages are accessible through the navigation bar, which is either at the top of your blog or on a sidebar.
Use pages for information you would like to reference throughout the school year. Useful page topics include:
- Curriculum Overview
- Page with Links to Student Blogs
- Contact Page
- Links & Forms Page (upload PDFs of important documents that students seem to constantly misplace, such as course criteria sheets, permission slips, flyers for enrichment programs, reference tables/cheat sheets)
You can organize pages and streamline the appearance of your blog by stacking multiple related pages under one heading. For example, under my “Student Websites” category, I have the current school year’s student websites, and all of my past years’ student websites listed below it. I follow the same organization system for my “Project Gallery” pages.
Posts are accessible on the home page, but only the most recent 1-3 posts will be immediately visible.
Use posts for information that you update on a frequent basis. Information that should go in a post includes:
- Essential Questions
- Learning Objectives
- Step-by-Step Instructions for the day’s task
- Expanded Learning Opportunities/Differentiated Links Relevant to the day’s task/topic
Here are some sample blog posts for high school. Notice how it is written for high school students, but will work for the purpose of parent communication or to give an administrator a quick overview of the day’s lesson.
- Introducing a new project and its requirements (9th grade)
- Step-by-step Photoshop tutorials (9th grade)
- Integrating Art History/guiding students through how to write an Artist Statement (9th Grade)
- Formative Critique (12th grade)
Here is a sample middle school blog post. It follows a similar structure as my high school blog posts, but is simplified for age-appropriateness:
Here is are some sample blog posts for elementary school, courtesy of Cassie Stephens. What are some ways she keeps families and administrators up to date on what is happening in her classroom?
When in doubt, create a post rather than a page. You can always link directly to the post if you want to reference it in the future.
Creating Your Class Blog
Part 1: Setting up a WordPress account
- Click here to set up a WordPress account. (This will be your Foundations 1 class blog.) You may choose any free template you like, but keep in mind that you will need to post both text and images, so you should pick a template that supports both of these requirements well. Use your school Gmail address (890….@rcsd121.org) – you will have to verify your email in order to publish blog posts.
- Log into your school email account, open the email from WordPress, and click on the link to verify your email address.
Note: Once you set up your WordPress account, you will have the ability to create multiple blogs under that account. This is handy if you teach several different courses.
Part 2: Publishing your first blog post
- Post an image by following these steps:
- Go to images.google.com
- type in what you are looking for (ex. “cutest kitten in the world”)
- click on the image you want to download
- control +click -> save images as
- save the image to your desktop
- Click on the “add media” button
- Click on “upload files”
- Click on “select file”
- Select the image you want to insert
- Note: You can also use the “Add Media” button to upload PDFs! It will display the name of the PDF as a link, and when students click on the link, it will load the PDF. This is a great way to share handouts, permission slips, flyers for enrichment programs, etc.
- Write any relevant text for your blog post. Ideas include:
1. Welcome students to the course and introduce the curriculum, rituals, and routines.
2. Create a sample daily blog post. Include an essential question, learning objectives, and any relevant instructional pieces.
- Add at least one interesting link.
- Click on the link icon at the top of the screen.
- Copy and paste the website address in the URL section, and write what you would like the link to appear as (ex. biography of Kehinde Wiley) in the “link text” section. Check the box to “Open link in new tab” so students don’t accidentally lose your blog.
- Click “add link”
- Click “publish” at the bottom of the screen to publish your post.