Blogging in the Classroom

The beginning of our hike!

Introduction:

  • Today my presentation is about blogging, because we already had to create our own blogs for this class I won’t start from the very beginning but I’ll show you a few ways to personalize and edit your blogs.

Brief History:

  • The first blog was created by a student, Justin Hall, in January of 1994.
  • The first free blog host sites were created 1999
  • In 2002 blogs really take off—the first incident of a person, Heather Armstrong, being fired for blog content, the first ads designed specifically for blogs, etc.
  • 2004 “blog” is officially the word of the year according to Merriam-Webster
  • At the beginning blogs were only available to those internet savvy enough to create them and were used mostly as a tool to share links and delve deeper into the internet.  When blog hosting sites were introduced and they became easier to create and thus more popular, the nature of them changed.  They became journals and a method to introduce whatever thoughts one liked to an immense audience.
  • http://nymag.com/news/media/15971/

Technical Tips:

  • After creating your blog, one of the first things you should do is personalize it to visually “restate” your theme, or purpose for that blog.
  • For example, a classroom blog featuring a lot of pictures might look nice with a dark background so that your pictures really stand out.  Or if you want a reader to focus solely on your posts, then you might want a simple 1 row theme that doesn’t have a distracting background or a lot of widgets.
  • It’s also a good idea to look for a theme that fits your needs technologically.  If you would like to have several “widgets” on your blog in order to feature a calendar, previous posts, images, etc then you would need a theme that can host several widgets.
  • Now I’ll show you how to change the theme, under appearance in your dashboard.
  • Once you’ve found a theme that you like, you can change it around even more.
  • You can change the background, either uploading a picture from your computer or you can just change the color.
  • You can also upload a picture to serve as your header, you can even upload a few and set it to randomly change them.
  • On a side note, if you are using multiple computers to post, then you can upload a bunch of pictures to your media library (also in your dashboard) and use them from wherever.
  • As I mentioned before, you can add widgets to your blog.  You can add an image, a message, a calendar, etc.  I found the image to be the trickiest one to use, mostly because you need a URL for the picture as opposed to loading it directly from your computer or media library.  But, after a few days, I discovered that once you put something in your media library it automatically makes a URL for that image and all you need to do is copy and paste that into the designated spot on the widget.
  • The settings section is also very useful to editing your blog.  When I started the most annoying thing was the “just another wordpress.com site under my blog name,” and you can delete it and/or change it to something else there.
  • You can change your “tagline,” the timezone, your blog icon, etc, in the general section.
  • Under the others, you can change the size of your images, videos, posts, etc.
  • Under Users, you can connect various social media sites to your blog (Facebook, twitter, etc.).  You can also activate Zemanta, which will help you find content related to your post, like websites and photos you can use.   Once you activate it, a box will show up on the page where you write your posts in case you need the help.
  • Here is a blog all about how to use WordPress: http://learn.wordpress.com/

Now that you’ve molded your blog into something more personal, you start writing.

  • Again, as I’m sure you all know you can start this in the Post section by hitting the “add new” button.
  • One of the best things I found doing research for this presentation was the “kitchen sink” button, as they call it on WordPress.  This expands the options buttons at the top and lets you indent, change the color of your text, and even put in fun symbols!
  • If you are linking to other websites to reference them or as a loose “citation,” then all you need to do is copy or write the site into your text. Highlight it and then hit the “link” button at the top of the “writing box.”  Then a box will pop up where you can create a short description your readers will see when their mouse pauses on the link.
  • If you would like the link to show up on the side of your blog, in your blogroll, simply go to the links section of your dashboard and add the link.  You can then choose blogroll for where it will appear and the link will stay there not simply be in one post.
  • To add a picture, again you can either load it from your media library or directly from your computer or from a URL, or the gallery.  You simply hit the button that looks like a photo above your writing box, and the menu will lead you through.  You can select where the picture will go in your post and whether the text will wrap around it or not.
  • To add a video you can find what you need on YouTube and copy the link into your post.  When it’s published the video itself will show up, but you won’t be able to see it as you’re writing.
  • If you want to add  your own videos, not through YouTube, you have to upgrade your blog which costs money, something ridiculous like $60 a year.
  • Adding music is not nearly as easy as an image or video.  Similar to adding an image to your widgets menu you need the URL of a sound clip, you can’t add an mp3 file to your media library without one of those expensive upgrades.  I added instrumental clips as an example from a website called soundcloud.com.  The great thing about this site is that it will let you record your own music/speeches/interviews/etc and upload them to the site, which you can then copy to your blog, twitter, fb, etc.  When you find a clip you like, or with one of your own, you just hit the share button on the clip and then you can select where you want to share it and even how you want the player to appear.
  • http://en.support.wordpress.com/audio/

Lesson Plan:

  • If I were to use blogging in my classroom I would do it with older kids who are more experienced with using the internet.
  •   There’s a great site, edublogs.com, that hosts free blogs.  The plus of this host site for educational purposes is that there’s no “adult content” allowed; therefore if you have a conservative principal/school administration/parents, you can have the kids blog without many complaints.  Some schools, as well as public libraries, block social media sites from their internet, but according to the edublogs site they are not blocked the same way.  There are a few other sites like this one (21classes.com, etc) or you can try a regular site with strong privacy settings.
  • I would like to substitute a traditional sketchbook project for a blog sketchbook.  The students would be able to share work they created, artists they like, and post art history assignments, and comment on posts made by those in their class.  It would also allow me to post assignments and updates from the classroom, which parents might appreciate.

Links:

  • Here are some helpful links, some of the sites where you can blog with your classroom, some blogs from art teachers, and a few others.  Unfortunately due to security reasons I can’t see/share any student blogs (as they are private), but I found a teacher’s blog where she writes about starting a blog assignment for her classes and then later shares some of her results.

Examples of Classroom Blogs:

http://missbellsartclass.wordpress.com/

http://www.sccart.blogspot.com/

http://indianajen.com/2011/07/11/blogging-in-the-classroom/

http://indianajen.com/2011/09/09/using-blogs-in-class-ap-art-history/       (the same teacher, but this post was made later and shows some of her results)

http://www.artprojectsforkids.org/

http://cmiraglia.edublogs.org/