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Creating classroom blogs

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Classroom blogs let kids learn new skills, share their creations online
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Creating classroom blogs gets students excited about writing and computers

A classroom blog is a wonderful way to showcase your students' talents. 

Family members across the globe will be able to see what's happening in your class, what the kids are learning, and how creative they are.  And you'll be able to use the classroom blog to teach a variety of skills such as planning, basic HTML, creative writing, photography and more. 

Not sure where to start? Here are the basic steps you need to take to create classroom blogs, and keep them running all year long.

Decide on theme

The best classroom blogs have a theme.  It could be lessons the students are learning, an art blog where student creations are showcased, or creative writing where students share their newest stories and poems. 

If you can't narrow it down to just one theme, consider using categories to allow readers to find the kind of posts they want to see.

Get a free site

One of the best things about classroom blogs is that setting them up is free. Sites like Wordpress and Blogger allow PC or Mac users to create and personalize your class's blog site for free. 

If you have or want to buy a personal domain name for the blog (instead of having it listed with the Blogger or Wordpress URL), you can purchase and register most URL's for under $20 per year.

Choose a layout

Even the free blogging sites have a number of layout and design choices you can select for your blog.  If you're using Blogger, do a Google search for "free blogger layouts" -- you will find hundreds, and installing one is as simple as cutting and pasting the code into your site's page. 

If you've selected the free Wordpress blogging site, your choices in custom layouts are a bit more limited.  They have quite a few on their site, so odds are you'll find something you can use.  But the free templates you can find online are for the program...also free, but a bit more complicated to get started.

Make sure the layout you choose is easy to use and is a good match for the type of classroom blog you want to create.  For example an art blog should use a layout designed for larger images, while one with multiple categories will work better with a tabbed or indexes layout.

Create a schedule

One of the biggest mistakes new bloggers make is to spend a lot of time building the blog, and then neglect posting on a regular basis. 

Classroom blogs should have some kind of post every couple of days, although posting something new every school day is a great way to keep the excitement going, while teaching students planning and follow-through skills.

Encourage students to use their talents

Classroom blogs are a great way to allow each student's talent to shine.  The mixture of writing, art or photography, computer skills and social networking savvy needed for a successful blog means that everyone in your class can contribute. 

Use your blog as opportunity to teach

Your class blog is also a chance to teach or reinforce a variety of skills and share new information with students.  For instance, the basics of journalism can be taught while students learn how to research and write posts, or details about what someone can or cannot write about other people.

Older students will appreciate lessons in marketing, communication, demographics or how to build an appealing visual layout.

Decide on summer plans

One of the big differences between classroom blogs and regular blogs is the the summer vacation, when there are no students around to write or post pictures.

It's a good idea to decide in advance what will happen to your blog over the summer.  Will you keep it going with summer posts?  Will students continue to post from home? 

And in the fall, will your new class build on what the previous class created, or will you start a new blog for each year?  One idea is to let the new class choose a new design, but keep the old year's classes' posts to build upon.

Making these choices in advance will make it easier to deal with that last post of the year, when students can their work from the whole school year.

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