10 Blogging Tips for Students and Teachers

As I work with students and other teachers on setting up blogs, I find myself giving them lots of little tips that I have picked up over my own blogging journey.

Many of these ideas have originally come from some of my blogging “mentors” such as Linda Yollis and Sue Waters.

Here are 10 12 Blogging Tips for Students and Teachers

Post frequency: Find a balance. Don’t post too often (ie. daily) otherwise you will not be able to generate much conversation through commenting. Post too infrequently (ie. monthly) and your readers might start to forget about you. I advise my students to post once or twice a week.

Reply to comments: I am often disappointed at how many student and adult bloggers there are who do not reply to their comments on their own blog. I feel that it is basic blogging etiquette to reply. Acknowledge your readers’ comments and they will be encouraged to comment again.

Have an “about” page: The first thing I do when I visit a new blog is look at the About page. I am always disappointed when there isn’t one! Don’t keep your readers in the dark about who you are.

Theme changes: Students love playing around with the different themes available when they first start blogging. I encourage them to explore for a week or so but then advice them to find a good theme and stick with it. Readers may be able to identify less with your blog if it looks different every time they visit it.

Fun widgets: Young bloggers love widgets! In my opinion, it is advisable to limit “fun” or “novelty” widgets. Too many widgets take away from the actual content of the blog posts and can slow down loading time! I suggest my students have no more than three “fun widgets” such as virtual pets, Christmas countdowns, jokes, tips, music clips etc.

Add a search box: Early on in the year, I teach my students how to use the search box on blogs to find content. I find it frustrating when blogs don’t have the search box. This simple tool allows readers to find what they’re looking for and means when your posts are no longer on the front page, they won’t be lost.

Subscribe via email: While I also use Google Reader and Twitter to keep track of blogs I like, I love having the ability to subscribe via email to my favourite blogs. Adding this feature could bring more regular visitors to your blog.

Add links to blog posts and comments: Links help your visitors gain a deeper understanding of what they’re reading. Links in blog posts can also be used to acknowledge or compliment others’ work. Links in blog comments can add extra information to a conversation. If you don’t know how to add a link to a blog comment, check out Linda Yollis’ excellent blog post and quick video.

Visit other blogs: You can’t expect many people to read and comment on your blog if you don’t read and comment on others’ blogs. You have to be part of the blogging community to get the most out of blogging.

End with a question: On my class blog and this blog I like to end with a question to stimulate and direct conversation in the comment section. My Grade Two bloggers are learning how to ask “broader” questions that will appeal to more readers (eg. if a child writes a post about a holiday to Noosa, instead of simply asking “have you ever been to Noosa?” they could ask readers to leave a comment and describe a holiday they have been on).

Don’t lose your comment: All my students now know how to copy (Control C), their comment before they hit “submit”. This allows them to paste (Control V) the comment if something goes wrong when they hit the “submit” button. This happens fairly frequently with young students due to the wrong spam word being entered etc. Read Grade Two student Millie’s post about this here.

Left align your writing: I used to be guilty of centering all of my text until I realised this is not easy on the eye and not what professional writers do (always good to look to the professionals for guidance when in doubt). Style guides usually suggest that centred text is best for invitations, posters, headings etc.

Are any of these tips new ideas for you?

What other blogging tips can you think of? There must be lots more!

21 Comment

  1. murch says: Reply

    Great post Kathleen. Blogging is a 21st century literacy and more teachers, students and classes need to be encouraged to use and indeed, must take up this great tool.One more tip that I would add, is that bloggers need to actively read other blogs that are out there, leave comments etc. This further develops their learning network and ensures that they also have an authentic audience. By reading other blogs, we get ideas for posts, interesting widgets and other engaging elements.

    1. @ Anne, very true – to be a true blogger you can’t just write, you need to get involved in the blogging community. I’ve been having many of those discussions with my students about “borrowing ideas” lately (and knowing when you need to acknowledge that it wasn’t your idea).

  2. Thank Kathleen! As someone fairly new to blogging there are some great tips here for me (just added a search box to our blog) and my Preps. I particularly like the one about copying your comment – I have been caught out a few times!
    Thanks again
    Marie

    1. @ Marie, your blog is looking terrific! I have passed the link on to our Prep co-ordinator.

      I’m sure you and your readers will find the search box very useful!

      I know what you mean about being caught out when you lose your comment. Linda Yollis told me that tip and now it’s just become a habit for my kids (and me) to Control C before hitting submit.

      Thanks for your comment!

      1. Thanks Kathleen.
        Can I ask is there any way once someone has commented on your blog – and you have replied to them (on your blog) – of letting them know that you have responded – or do they just have to keep checking back to see?
        Marie

        1. Hi Marie, I thought I had a tick to receive notification via email button when you leave a comment? Maybe it disappeared when I changed themes? I will check now! 🙂

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Zlata and Pavlína Hublová, Kathleen McGeady. Kathleen McGeady said: New post: 10 Blogging Tips for Students and Teachers http://bit.ly/cqTvGT #edtech #blogging […]

  4. Gr says: Reply

    Useful post with lots of great ideas – well done, Kathleen! I particularly like the one about considering the frequency of new posts – I have good intentions and seem to be formulating posts in my head all the time but struggle to get them onto the computer. Shall have that as my goal this term!

    1. It is so hard to keep up the posts sometimes isn’t it! I know what you mean about formulating ideas in your head. I’m always doing that. Sometimes sitting down and writing can take longer than expected!

      With the students, I have seen some young bloggers who start posting every day and they are really poor quality posts (ie. one sentence). Therefore, before my students even begin blogging I like to have a chat with them about goals for post frequency and also let their parents know that part of the responsibility of having a blog is striving for one quality post a week.

      I also like to let the children know that being a blogger isn’t for everyone and it might not be for them. If they find that they can’t do a post a week, reply to comments and keep the blog going then they don’t need to stress about it. Blogging is an extra activity, not a requirement. There are many elements to being involved in blogs and if they would prefer to be a reader and commenter of blogs rather than a writer of a blog then that is okay.

  5. Dear Kathleen,
    Thank you for another very valuable post. I have been blogging for a year or so but I know I really have a lot to learn and do to get more out of blogging and to help my students get the most out of blogging. It’s easy to fall into habits about using a blog the same way rather than continue to develop and improve. All my students have blogs but I need to rethink that approach as clearly, as you say, blogging is for some but not others. Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. @ Michelle, thanks for your comment!

      I’m still learning all the time about blogging which is one of the things I love about it so much. Being part of a blogging community I am always picking up new ideas and discovering better ways of doing things.

      When I first started blogging three years ago there was little structure to it. A prime example of this is I didn’t show the students how to write a quality comment and got them writing posts on our class blog straightaway. This meant there was never good conversations happening in the comment section because the students just wrote comments like “I like your blog” “Your blog is cool”. When they visited other blogs, they also had nothing much to add!

      That experience made me come up with a more structured approach where we spend a good term just focussing on commenting skills. From this, we’ve got so much more out of blogging!

      You’ve just got to try things to know what does and doesn’t work I guess. Maybe next year if you tried the strategy of students earning their blogs it would work better for you. Or maybe not! The learning never ends! 🙂

      1. I think the key message I’ll take from this discussion is to “be part of the blogging community”. I have tended to be all one-way traffic, uploading to my own blog, and reading others’ posts but not joining in discussions. So my new goal is to be more of a two-way participant.

  6. Fantastic tips for blogging! Commenting is one that I am particularly passionate about, blogging just isn’t as much fun when it isn’t part of a conversation!

    1. @ Kelly, thanks for your comment. I agree that it is so much for fun for everyone when the conversation happens!

  7. Ed says: Reply

    Great post, Kath. I especially love how blogging becomes a conversation between bloggers, once one starts reading, commenting, responding…
    Can’t wait for you to share with our teachers just what’s possible with class blogging!

    1. @ Edna, thanks for your support. I’ve had many teachers ask me how I’ve found the terrific overseas classes that my class has worked on a few projects with. They are sometimes surprised when I say these connections started from just one comment and we took it from there! Blogging sure is a powerful tool.

  8. Great post. I’ve been following your blog for a while along with others. I’ve just plucked up the courage to have a go myself.
    I’m sorry to say that until now I’d been one of those guilty characters who read other blogs and never left comments. As you can see, all that has changed!!
    Thanks for the advice in this post, along with all the others I’ve read by you in the past. Keep up the fabulous work.

    1. @ Karen, so nice to hear from you!

      I know exactly what you mean about not commenting. I read a statistic somewhere that said only 5% of blog readers comment (or something like that). I’m still trying to get into the habit of being a commenter and not just a reader!

      Thanks for your support and hope to hear from you again 🙂

  9. junior2m says: Reply

    Hi Kathleen,
    Thanks for your great post, my children are now using the Control C before they comment and it’s made it much easier for them when they come across any problems?
    I am also new to blogging this year and your site have been very helpful.
    I was wondering if you could help me with embedding files from u tube into my blog as u tube is one of the many sites blocked at our school. I normally download the files into keepvid so I can view them with the students/ staff but then once embedded into the blog they cannot be seen at school.
    Thanks heaps
    Samara

    1. @ Samara,

      So glad your kids like the Control C trick – it’s so handy. I wish I thought of it sooner.

      The You Tube issue is tricky. The only way I have found to get around that is to download the video like you’re doing with Keep Vid (or a similar site), then you need to upload that file to a site that isn’t blocked at your school – maybe Teacher Tube, Vimeo or School Tube? Then just embed it in your blog.

      Hope that helps?

      Kathleen

      1. junior2m says: Reply

        @ Kathleen. Thanks heaps- I’ll download them on to teacher tube. i didn’t think of that.
        I’m also following your advice with the about page, which is currently under construction for my blog. Your tip help alot- so thanks again.

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