Thursday, July 29, 2010

Setting up Classroom Blogs Lesson 1

This will be a series of posts designed to help teachers set up classroom blogs using  It is currently the middle of the summer break.  Time to stop totally thinking about relaxation and slowly start the process of getting ready for another school year.  It is at this time that I start putting the class blogs together for the next year. It is a simple process that takes a bit of time.  So I break it up over a few days.  I need to get back into the saddle slowly not all at once:)

Today I cleaned up my blogger dashboard.  For those of you that have blogs already you know what I am talking about.  I have over 30 of them so I need to clean up my dashboard.  This means that all old blogs get "hidden". 

When you click the hide button only the blogs you want on your dashboard will be visible.  All others will be available to you if you click on view all at the bottom of your dashboard.

Now that my dashboard is clean I choose
Here I now go into the process of making the 4 classroom blogs for the year.  It is a simple process.  Follow the instructions provided by blogger and there should be no problems.  I will give a few suggestions however for those of you that are new to this:)

  1. Blog Title.  Keep this simple.  I just call mine 817 Math (2010) This is just a room number and a year.  The title for the student zones does not need to be fancy (but it can be if you like)
  2. Blog Address.  It took a while for me to figure out a few tricks here.  I always changed the names of my addresses and forgot what they were called.  Now I use a simple url and change the last 2 digits to show the year.  spmath81710.  spmath817 is the room and 10 is the calender year. Next year it would be spmath81711 and so on.  It is a nice way to organize your blogs.
You now have a blog.  I always publish something as a first post.  Today it was titled Test in the body of the blog I simply typed TEST and labeled the post "first post".  This is so I can see what is going on when I preview the blog.

The new blogger offers new templates for beginners.  This is a nice touch.  I chose a template from the start menu but in the near future will change that design.  But for today the generic template will do. 

Next steps.

You need to go back to your dashboard and click settings
You are going to change a few things in the settings to suit your needs.  The first thing I change is under settings/basic I add a description.  This description is part of your heading at the blog.  Once again I keep this simple.

You then have to save.  Moving over2 tabs in the settings brings you to formatting.  Here you need to change the time to where you live.  This will provide you with an accurate timestamp on when people comment and post to the blog.  Handy when tracking student work. Be sure to save these settings.

Finally move on to commenting.  Here you have some choices.  I chose to allow all people to comment.  This is a bit risky for first time bloggers but in all the years I have been doing this there has been very little spam on current blogs.  If the spam becomes an issue I will add comment moderation.
My settings on the blogs are 
and until something happens I leave the comments wide open. You have many options from only allowing group members to comment to people with google accounts.  The problem with limiting comments is that you shut out audience.  Kids want to get comments from abroad.  If you allow comments from anyone you will be able to receive information for other students.  A way around this is to enable comment moderation.  I only use this on old blogs to prevent spammers.  But you could moderate comments to the blog. 
To moderate comments choose "always" and add your email address.  Now you get notified and get to read all comments before the arrive at the blog.

Click save setting on the bottom and voila you have set up your blog.  Now for the hard part but.......

that is a different post for a different day.