Monday, December 5, 2011

Make a Blog or a Web Site - Free!

Want to communicate more with students & parents? Kids asking you to “tech it up a notch?” Try making a blog or Web site – It’s super easy!

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Clicking the link or image above will take you to a Web site I use to teach a class for educators on blogging. What a lot of people don’t realize is that you can use a blog like this to create and maintain your own classroom web site in the same way! Generally you can have up to 10 (or more) “static” or unchanging pages, along with a blog page, so… 

  1. Outline your class with up to 10 general units or topics. Have a 9- or 18-week class? Then outline it with 1- or 2-week chunks, with a Course Syllabus, Outline, or About Your Teacher page.
  2. Create up to 10 static pages and load each page up with text & content for each unit, topic, or time period. The “Posts/Pages” and “Images/Videos” steps in the class web site will help you learn how to do this. (You don’t have to fill up all 10 pages – do what fits best to your class needs & teaching style.)
  3. Help kids stay on-track by creating a post for each unit, topic, or time period that explains the tasks you will be asking students to complete and the timeline for each stage of your course or unit. Make sure your post includes a link to the static page that covers the unit or time period. (Don’t worry – All this is explained in the “Posts/Pages” step.)

Here’s the only tricky part: A blog generally places your most recent post at the top of the page, with the older stuff pushed to the bottom. If you want to publish things for the whole year/term chronologically from top-to-bottom, you’ll need to post in reverse-order. This will allow the last item you cover in the term to be pushed to the very bottom of your home page and the first item you cover will remain at the top of the blog page, etc.

Here are 2 easy ways around the tricky part: 

Type out all your posts and save them in draft form. Then schedule your posts to magically appear at a date & time that you choose.  So, once everything is typed out, you then schedule the posts to appear in the order you wish.

Or, if you like kids to say with you and not work too far ahead, schedule your posts to appear at some unreasonable hour of the morning the day you start into the unit, topic, or time period. Your students will be impressed that you appear to be working on preparing their class at 3 AM the day they arrive in your class! So while they are marveling at your dedication, only you will know that you were actually sleeping like a baby at the time! (Don’t worry – How to pull off these tricks is also explained in the “Posts/Pages” step.)

I want to learn how! Each year I offer teachers in our District several opportunities to attend classes and learn new tech skills. Blogging With and For Your Students is one of our frequent offerings. Click the image to link to the class! You can wander through it at your own leisurely pace.

I highly recommend Blogger, EduBlogs, and Weebly for free blog & Web site hosting and design tools. Blogger and EduBlogs are blogging engines. Weebly focuses more on Web sites that include a blog page and allows online storage of documents that you can then embed into pages so students can access assignments, etc., from a lab or home computer. For the class, I use Blogger, simply because it is more widely recognized and many already have Google accounts when they arrive in class. However, I’ve used all three of the above before and, like our students, each is excellent in its own unique way.

Those who have taken the class have told me they never realized how simple it would be to create a blog or a Web site of their very own. The class is about an hour long and is open to any District #205 or KWSED teacher. Register with your school email here! (Out of District and non-school emails will be considered spam and will be ignored & deleted.)

DISCLAIMER: Helping teachers teach is my mission, my job, and one of my joys in life. I don’t get paid extra to teach these classes – You’ll find no ads on the class site. I’m not getting paid a penny for recommending any of the sites mentioned above or anywhere else on this site. These are all free resources intended to help you help kids. ‘Nuff Said.

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