The next step to getting students to blog after showing them the process with paper blogs and assuring students’ safety online is to get them onto their own blog!  I am using  Many of my PLN use this as well.  It is proven to be a safe site, is teacher friendly and can be used by students with ease.  Although, there are other options out there for use.

When I finally got my students into our Computer Clubhouse to log in for the first time, they were super excited!  However, I first needed to give them a tutorial on how to use a blog site.  I found it cute that because they were so excited, they were eager to hear every word that came out of my mouth.  I guess it partly had to do with the fact that none of my students had ever done anything like this before.  No one was disinterestedly clicking around the site.  Instead, they WANTED to learn all the features so that they could be successful.  Here is a list of the features I introduced to them.

  1. How to get to our blog site.  I put a link on the resources page of our class’s website so that students would be able to find it quickly.  I also gave them the url that they could type into the address bar.
  2. How to log into our blog site.  I made sure all students knew their usernames and passwords ahead of time.
  3. Once all were logged in, we went through the links across the top menu bar:
  • All Blogs shows the titles of all the posts from the class in order beginning with the most recent.  I showed the students how they can change how many posts they see at once and how they can change time frame as well.  We also took a quick tour of the tags.  (At this time there weren’t any, but it was a way to show where they will be housed.)  Finally, we saw how all of our names were listed down the sidebar.
  • My Blog brings you to the individual student’s blog page.  (The students can also get there by clicking their name from the side bar.)  Again, at this time, there were no posts to show, but it was a way for students to see their name in large font in the heading and see where their tags and comments will be placed.
  • Log Out  is found on the right side of this top menu bar.  I made sure the students knew where to click to log out and the importance of logging out after each session they spend writing.
  • The Control Panel was next.  This is a fun one!  This is the place where they can see all their post titles in list form and can click them to edit them even after a post has been published.  (This is very handy if you find you’ve made a mistake after your post has gone live.)  This is also where students can view and edit their comments.
  • What students are really looking forward to is creating a New Post.  That’s why I leave it to the end.  There are two ways to get there.  You can find the link to a new post in the control panel or click the words in the top menu bar.  Either way, you get to a new screen where students can type.

Once inside the New Post  screen, students were then introduced to the various tools they would use.

  • Where it says, Enter New Title, students should type in the title of their post.  Of course, they may not have a title when they begin.  They can type in a title whenever they think of the perfect one.
  • On the sidebar (or if you scroll down, depending on how the page is set up), you will see two smaller boxes.  The Publish box is where you can click a button to save your work.  This is a good feature if you find that you have run out of time and need to work on and finish your post at a later time.  There is also a preview button that allows you to see what the post will look like before it’s published.  And of course there is a publish button.  This should only be pushed after a student has checked and rechecked their work.  There is also a feature where students can schedule a time for their post to go live.
  • The other box is Post Tags.  Here, students can type in key words or phrases that go with their posts.  At some point, students will be able to do two cool things in this box.  1- They will be able to type the first letters of a tag word and, if someone has already posted a tag using the same letters, a list of words will pop up for them to highlight and choose.  This is good for keeping tags consistent.  In other words, a students writing about dance, may type in d-a- and find that there is already a tag for that and be able to choose it.  This also helps with typos.  2- Under the cell to type in tags, there will be a link that says, “Choose from most used tags.”  If a student clicks on this, a list of popular tags will appear and students will be able to just click on tags that apply to their post.

Finally, finally, finally, I get the students inside the post box where they can type up their post.  For our first time on the blog, I ask students to type up the same post they did for their paper blog.  When I did this with my students, no one had a copy of their paper blog, but were quick to redo it online with very few complaints.  I showed my students that there were features above this cell that are similar to creating a WORD document and that there are links that lead to uploading pics, videos, audio and files, but told them to just worry about writing for the first time.  I figured we would get to uploading fun stuff later!

And they were off!  I could hear nothing but the clicky clicky of typing fingers and the concentration of young minds.  Sounds corny, I know, but I was just amazed at how focused they were!  I sat back for a moment before writing a post of my own.  Little did I know just how much typing some of these students would do in the next days!