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If you’re active on social media or enjoy reading blogs, you will no doubt be aware of the popularity of quotes.

There’s something about quotes that many people find inspiring, motivating, and shareworthy.

Perhaps they’re a good pick-me-up when times get tough, or maybe they remind us of the deeper meaning behind our everyday routine.

Sometimes quotes might offer a burst of insightful learning for the time poor.

Whatever the case, quotes can be powerful.

Six Reasons To Weave Quotes Into Blog Posts
  1. You can back up your thoughts and make your writing more credible.
  2. Student voice can be incorporated into a blog post written by a teacher.
  3. You can provide alternative viewpoints or encourage readers to reflect.
  4. Quotes can help you begin or end your blog post with impact.
  5. The research involved in finding quality quotes is a solid learning experience.
  6. Quotes can make your posts easier to read as they break up the text.
How Do You Put A Quote In Your Post?

You can just type your quote into a post and put it in quotation marks, but to really make it stand out and break up your text, try blockquotes.

Using blockquotes is easy. When you’re in your visual editor:

  • type the quote
  • highlight the words in your quote
  • click on the quotation mark icon

It will then display like this…

Learning is not done to you. Learning is something you choose to do.
― Seth Godin, Stop Stealing Dreams

Note: The way the blockquotes display depends on your theme.

Where Can You Find Quotes?

You might already have some favorite quotes stored away that have never left you.

You might do a Google search for articles on your topic and find quotes from others.

Otherwise, you may enjoy browsing an online collection of quotes, such as the following:

The Legalities And Etiquette Of Using Quotes

We know we can’t just take images that we find online, and we certainly can’t copy others’ writing and publish it as our own. So, many people might wonder about using quotes.

It’s fine to use quotes from others but there are a few things to be aware of:

  • Make it obvious which words are your own, and which words belong to someone else (by using quotation marks or block quotes).
  • Make your quotes brief. There are no universal rules here. Some larger organizations have guidelines around how much your can quote (eg. Hubspot’s rules are 75 words). If you’re unsure or think you might be using too much of someone’s article, contact them to ask permission. Never copy the whole post.
  • Always include the person’s name, and link to their site, article, or book if you can. Obviously if you’re quoting someone like Aristotle or Mother Teresa, hyperlinking is not as straightforward!
  • If you’re using blockquotes, the attribution could be before the quote, inside it, or below it.
  • If you shorten a quote, use an ellipsis (…) in place of the missing words.
  • If you’re adding any words or corrections to the quote, use brackets.
Make Your Quotes More Visual

There are many online tools where you can turn your quote into writing on an image. These can make your blog posts look more visually appealing, and are great to share on social media too.

Here are just a few free online tools that might be useful for students or teachers:

Canva

This is a really popular tool to make all sorts of graphic designs and documents. There is an adequate free version and it can be used by students under 13 with supervision.

Here is an example of a quote I made with Canva.

Adobe Spark

Similar to Canva, this online drag and drop tool allows you to make social posts and graphics. The free version is functional but has a watermark. According to a recent Adobe announcement, the premium features will soon be free for teachers and students. Handy!

Here is an example of a quote I made with Adobe Spark.

Pablo

This is a user-friendly tool from Buffer (a social media scheduling tool). While Buffer is no longer updating Pablo, it seems to work well, and is fast and free.

You simply add your text to a Creative Commons Zero image and save your work.

Quozio

This is a really simple tool which doesn’t require any sign up, so it’s ideal for young students to use. You simply add your text and choose your background before saving your image.

Note On Accessibility

Vision impaired visitors to your blog may be using assistive technology like screen readers to read the page out loud.

If you put words on an image, write the actual words from the quote in the alt text section.

 Five Ideas For Using Quotes In The Classroom
  1. Quoting young students: If you teach very young students, you could put the students’ quotes about their learning in a different color on your blog. This makes it easier for them to go home and proudly share their blue/red/green writing with their parents.
  2. Exploring a quote in a post: If you have student bloggers, why not have them choose a quote from a fellow student’s blog post as a topic for a post of their own? They can explore the quote in detail and add their own thoughts and opinions.
  3. Posts full of quotes: You or your students could create blog posts that are a compilation of quotes. For example:
    • If you were studying World War Two, you could put together a collection of important quotes from this time in history.
    • If your class visited the museum, you could add quotes from all the students about the day.
    • If you were studying a divisive topic, like animal testing or closing a local library, you could interview members of the community and include their quotes in the post.
  4. Quote library: You or your students could start your own library of interesting quotes as you come across them. You could add them to a Google Doc and then refer to them when writing blog posts in the future, or house them on a page on your blog. Tip: BrainyQuotes allows you to set up a quote library with a free account (over 13s only).
  5. Quote of the day blog: Some people have a photo of the day blog. What about a blog where a quote is published each day? This could be a mix of quotes from members of the school community, or well known identities or historical figures.

Bringing in the voices of experts or giving your students a voice through the use of quotations could have a big impact. Why not consider ways that you and your students could integrate quotes into your blog posts?

We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

― Walt Disney Company

Do you use quotes in your blog posts? Share a favorite quote in a comment.

Or perhaps you can share a website to find quotes or tell us how you display quotes as images. We’d love to hear from you.

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It may be a poor business decision to discuss such controversial topics on a company blog. But this is too important to stay silent.

Earlier today, yet another tragic shooting took place at one of our schools here in America. As our leaders offer up more thoughts and prayers, precious lives continue to be ended in such horrific and unthinkable ways. Our hearts break for the Parkland, Florida community.

I write this post mostly because I often hear that all Americans love their guns. We have an international audience here on this blog, and I want the truth to be known: the majority of Americans do not own guns. The majority of Americans support increased gun control. And the rate of gun ownership is decreasing. [1]

Yet here we are, more of our kids that went to school this morning didn’t come home. It is hard to even think about the fact that there have been 18 school shootings in just the first 45 days of 2018. [2]

We are nearly 20 years since Columbine. More than 5 years since Sandy Hook. With dozens and dozens of shootings at schools each year. It isn’t just in schools, with mass shootings in the US occurring at more than 11 times the rate of any other developed country. [3]

There was a shooting in my hometown at the Junior High when I was 9 years old. I can still remember how it shook up the community, with terrified students (myself included), parents, and teachers for years after. And in this case, thankfully, nobody died. But for some reason, a 14-year-old boy had access to a gun and brought it to school.

Outside of the school, access to guns by kids is astonishing. Nearly two million American children live in homes with guns that are not stored responsibly. [4]

And 91% of all children who die from firearms in high-income countries across the world come from the United States. Guns are the third leading cause of death for all children between ages 1 and 17. [5]

Every day, 46 children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police intervention. Every single day. [6]

We will continue to hear the thoughts and prayers from those that can affect change. With this most recent shooting, the new talking point seems to be “see something, say something.” This will be peppered in with vague mentions about the need for better mental health services. But these words are all meaningless without real action.

Please, no more thoughts and prayers. It is time for action on how we can stop a 19-year-old, who had been suspended from school for bringing a gun, from walking into a store and purchasing a military-style assault weapon. [7] We must work to elect those to office that will make this happen.

For decades we’ve done nothing while our kids are dying. We are ready for real change and real action.

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/29/american-gun-ownership-is-now-at-a-30-year-low/
  2. http://abcnews.go.com/US/18-school-shootings-us-year-group/story?id=53091125
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/02/us-gun-control-ownership-violence-statistics
  4. https://everytownresearch.org/notanaccident/
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2017/06/19/american-denial-about-facts-on-guns-continues-to-kill-children/
  6. http://www.bradycampaign.org/key-gun-violence-statistics
  7. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/14/585908507/what-we-know-about-the-florida-school-shooting-suspect
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One of the great things about blogging is how versatile it is. There’s no right and wrong way to blog. A good blogging program will be molded to best meet the needs of your students and school community.

However, it’s always interesting to see what others are doing to get new ideas and perspectives.

Last week we shared Becky Versteeg’s story of blogging with young students. It was an inspiring look at the many benefits that blogging can offer students in their first few years of schooling.

For educators who are working with older students, we want to provide a case study for you too.

Roslyn Green kindly allowed us to interview her recently for our Better Blogging With Students Course. We’re cross posting this interview here on The Edublogger to share her excellent insights with a larger audience.

Roslyn is a secondary school (high school) teacher from Melbourne, Australia.

She uses Edublogs and a CampusPress platform to blog with a number of her classes in different ways.

Let’s hear from Roslyn…

My Life as a Blogging Nerd

Although I had actually completed an Applied Diploma of Science in Computing in the years before gaining a full-time teaching position, I don’t think that really helped me with blogging. Perhaps it made me believe that I could figure out how to solve problems along the way. I was pre-wired to be a total nerd, even back then!

I finally gained an ongoing position at Box Hill High School in 1990. It was there that our librarian, Dee McQueen, initially mentioned the concept of blogging to me. She had decided to create a blog for the library and I was immediately taken with her idea. In fact, permanently hooked!

At that time, in 2008, blogging was much trickier: the software was far less intuitive and the options relatively limited. My aim initially was to help my history students find their way through the labyrinth of the internet by recommending worthwhile sources to them and directing their research.

You now have four blogs for various classes. Could you tell us about them? History

https://year7historygr.edublogs.org

The first blog I set up in around 2008 was for History (basically Year 7 and 8), because I found it to be a useful platform from which to guide students to the most reliable and worthwhile websites.

English

http://booksliveon.global2.vic.edu.au

My English blog is only a year old, but I have really enjoyed developing it. I have tried to upload all my handouts and internet activities to it, so that students and other teachers can find them and use them.

Many of my students have also written very thoughtful comments on various topics. I had a wonderful Year 8 group in 2017.

Psychology

http://psychologyrats.edublogs.org

My Psychology blog is rather inactive at the moment, though I devoted many hours to adding posts in 2016 with the new course for Year 11. Since then I’ve just made a few little adjustments but haven’t changed much.
The blog is called “The Rat Pack” and my original byline was “No rat was harmed in the making of this blog”. There are links to the whole course that I have taught, including to all my handouts, online activities (such as quizzes and Kahoots) and explanations of various topics.

German

http://germanisland.global2.vic.edu.au

The name for my German blog “German Island”, derived from a German word that translates in English to “Language Island” and refers to a little group of people who speak a particular language.

I started to learn German in the middle of 2009 and created the blog about 3 years after that. I quickly realised that students would only visit it if they could undertake interactive activities on it, so I built it like a website, with a page devoted to each unit, each grammar issue, etc.

Eventually each unit page included a downloadable PDF booklet, essential links, online activities related to that unit and sometimes audio clips as well. This is an example of a unit page for an accelerated Year 7 class.

My colleagues and I also built in a podcast, which can be found here: http://germanisland.podbean.com

How do your blogs operate? How do you encourage commenting?

At the start of the year, I ask my students to find and save the address of the appropriate blog.

During some (but certainly not all) classes, I direct them to particular activities or questions on that blog. This varies significantly from subject to subject.

  • For History, the blog is often a springboard to research, videos, and quizzes.
  • For German, I spend almost the whole time with students in face-to-face interaction, so the blog serves as a place for students to go later to consolidate what they’ve learned in class. Sometimes I create Wikis of class notes that they can read through to revise. I often place a link to the material they should visit on “Compass” (our school’s internal network).

Student comments are more appropriate for History and English than for my two other subjects.

For History, I might ask students to read several web pages to which I have provided links and then write a paragraph on a tricky, challenging or intriguing historical question, such as: Which factors might have contributed to the dying out of the Neanderthals? OR: In what ways did the development of farming enrich humanity? What kinds of disadvantages can you also identify?

Sometimes I ask students to comment on an activity that we have completed, which is an ideal way to gain thoughtful feedback.

I moderate ALL comments and usually correct the most heinous English errors.

Requesting a comment on a particular issue or in response to precise questions definitely helps to focus students, because they try harder to write carefully when they know that others might read what they write.

Last year I asked students in my English class to write a farewell comment to our retiring principal, and many of their comments were mature and touching.

My favourite comments, however, were the ones that I never intended to elicit, from my little History class last year, who wrote me comments at the end of Semester 1 to thank me for teaching them.

I always ask students to draft their comments in Word, because sometimes a comment can be lost in the ether; if they have spent a long time drafting it, this is naturally upsetting for them. They require quite a bit of time to write thoughtful comments. This is not a quick five-minute activity.

How has your approach to blogging changed since you first began?

My blogging has changed significantly since it became possible to create more interactive content through quizzes and the like.

I am always searching for potential quiz-making options so that the students can do more than just read and click. In this way, a blog post or page can evolve into a multi-layered worksheet, with embedded quizzes, videos, links to activities and sites, requests for comments and so on. (See suggestions for embeddable interactive content below.)

I try to write in a personal way to students, but I remind them not to be too personal in their own comments.

They are only allowed to write their first name and I rarely if ever have photos of students on the blogs. I used to include photos early on, but I soon abandoned this idea, since publishing photos became a charged issue over time.

I’m wary of putting anything on my blogs that might identify an individual student. Sometimes I upload pictures of their work after trimming out family names.

Are there any particular tools that you could recommend to make content more interactive?

There are several:

https://www.learnclick.com – Cloze activity maker, along with other types of quizzes. You can embed pictures, audio and videos in the quiz and then embed the whole quiz in your blog.

https://kahoot.com – Online multiple choice quizzes → I place links to the class and the preview version of the quiz on my blog. Students need a membership with Kahoot in order to play the preview version.

https://quizizz.com – Another online quiz-making site with the possibility of adding teacher-made memes (a built-in time waster for teachers!).

https://www.sugarcane.com – Create a data set and then make up to 18 activities based on it (excellent for revision and differentiation).

https://edpuzzle.com – I have just found this one and can’t wait to begin using it. You can create simple quizzes based on YouTube videos.

https://www.proprofs.com – Another quiz maker, but relatively expensive; search for the education package, which is cheaper.

https://tinycards.duolingo.com – I make a set and place a link to it on my blog. This is also an excellent activity for students. The flashcard-making software is built around the Duolingo program.

https://www.podbean.com – You can create a podcast and embed episodes in your blog or put links to your episodes (or those read by students) on your blog.

https://learningapps.org – Create your own activities (e.g. crosswords) and embed them in your blog. Use the HELP function to ensure that students can find possible answers even when you’re not present.

I sometimes make my own pictures (such as my avatar) on Keynote (an Apple presentation product). This takes a fair bit of practice, but is strangely soothing and infinitely adaptable.

My favourite sites for finding free pictures are:
http://pixabay.com
https://www.wpclipart.com
http://www.clipartlord.com

(Note: Check out Where To Find Free Images For Teachers And Students for more suggestions of royalty free and Creative Commons Zero images).

Do you have any other tips you could share for high school teachers who want to get started with blogging?

Students need to be directed clearly on what to do with your blog materials. Don’t believe all the drivel about them being “digital natives”: they need explicit and precise advice, because they are nowhere near as savvy with this kind of site as with mobile phones and the like.

I give them specific step-by-step instructions and nearly always have to repeat them for some students. Students tend to view the internet as a playground, rather than as a serious learning environment.

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If you’ve been blogging for a while, no doubt you would have heard of Linda Yollis?

Linda is a third grade teacher from Los Angeles, California. She began blogging with her students in 2008.

Linda has impacted countless members of the educational blogging community over the years. She willingly shares her insights and experiences via Twitter, conferences, and on her blog.

Personally, Linda has been a huge influence on my own blogging programs. She inspired me to set a high standard for writing and actively teach and promote quality commenting. This lead to a very noticeable improvement in student outcomes.

We have also worked on many global collaborative projects together over the years.

Linda has come up with so many catchy ideas, such as Family Blogging Month. This concept has been borrowed by many others (myself included) as a way of encouraging family participation in blogging.

A time I will never forget was when I met Linda in person!

New Video: Tips For You And Your Students

Linda recently created a new video with her students called Tips To Ensure Quality Blogging.

It’s part of a post she prepared on teaching and promoting quality writing.

This fabulous short video is well worth watching and sharing with your students.

It outlines the students’ rules for participation in their classroom blogs and the agreements they make when publishing on the blogs.

Tips to Ensure Quality Blogging - YouTube

If you enjoyed the video, you might like to check out some of Linda’s other videos that she’s created with her students over the years.

The Benefits of Blogging

How to Write a Quality Comment

Blogging is Learning

Leave a comment and share what you think of the video.

Are there any ideas that you could implement in your own classroom?

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Many bloggers, both new and experienced, enjoy hearing stories and tips from others in the educational blogging community. Understanding the obstacles and successes that others have experienced can be so powerful, whatever stage of your blogging journey you’re at.

In our Better Blogging With Students Course, we’ve had a few teachers who’ve blogged for a while kindly share their stories with the group.

We’d like to share some of these case studies with our wider community in the hope that they might provide you with a little inspiration or new ideas.

Teachers often ask about the best way to blog with young students. Some might wonder if it’s feasible at all. The good news is, it is! There are many ways you can incorporate blogging into the first few years of schooling.

This week, we bring you the story of Becky Versteeg. She is a Grade Two teacher from Listowel, Ontario, Canada​. Most of Becky’s students are 6 and 7 years old.

Becky’s fantastic blog is called Team 2 Eagles. Her students also have their own blogs. They blog on their iPads using the Edublogs website.

This class uses a CampusPress platform (this is basically Edublogs that her school district set up for the whole district to use).

Enjoy Becky’s insights and feel free to leave a comment with any further questions you might have for her.

About Becky

Pencils and paper were the only ‘technology’ that Becky was confident with when began her career with the Avon Maitland school board in 2006.

Old habits die hard, and she still does not own a television. This aside, she has thoroughly embraced the challenge of turning her physical classroom into a place where digital natives can thrive, and has enjoyed every minute.

Becky is discovering that the educational blogging community is a place where she learns, shares, and hopefully, models for educators how to take risks themselves by embracing their fear of technology and failures, and turning it into a success.

Becky’s current personal inquiry project is an Instagram account (@justanotherclass) used to connect with primary teachers around the world.

Everyone who meets Becky remembers her laugh, and Becky remembers just about everybody…

​Why did you start blogging?

I started to blog because of grant I applied for: creating student digital portfolios was the condition for getting 10 iPads for my classroom!

I had an old classroom website and I remember being reluctant to change, and even more reluctant to manage all those student blogs. I think I was overwhelmed — I’d never used an iPad, and just figuring out how to manage 10 of those seemed Herculean!

However, I had seen the difference iPads for learning had made for district colleagues, and… I was beyond inspired. I told myself ‘If it makes you uncomfortable, it probably means it’s good for you. Learning isn’t supposed to be easy!’ and I applied for the project.

Looking back, if I had to choose between what I’ve gained from blogging and what I’ve gained from having classroom iPads, I would choose blogging in a heartbeat.

When did you start blogging?

​My first post is dated October 23, 2013.

Fun facts:

  • I’ve published 631 posts since then
  • Together these have received 1372 comments.
  • I have created and moderated over 100 student blogs. (They aren’t all here, I didn’t think of creating this page until I’d lost a set of URLs.)
  • My ‘flag counter’ today tells me that the blog has had over 63 000 page views. This isn’t accurate, since I tend to accidentally delete it every few years when I’m teaching students to add their own. It’s the greatest little widget for inspiring social studies inquiry — the numbers and flags change daily and I field all kinds of questions about countries around the world.
​​Where do you get ideas for your daily posts and how do you integrate blogging into your classroom?

The Ontario Curriculum

My blog drafts act as my daybook. My day plans double as blog drafts. At the end of the teaching day, I edit my day plan to decide what to trash, what to publish and what to cut and paste into the top of the next day because I didn’t get it finished.

The Calendar

My audience is my six and seven year old students, and to them every birthday/holiday/school event/weather event is a big deal. These things get written about.

I also try to include my ‘star student‘ of the day in my daily posts. (The kids have to present some kind of project or oral presentation).

TIP: My class does not present in alphabetical order. I use birth order. I just started this idea this year, and I think all primary teachers should do this! The oldest kid, not the AA kid goes first – they are after all, a sixth of a life older than the youngest!). This means that their projects and presentations are also assessed in birth order. My December babies have had time to figure out what to do by the time it is their ‘day’ and are far more successful than they often are otherwise.

Friday Check Out

This is my version of a weekly class meeting except I take notes and publish at least one thing that each student shared. Parents love it and kids love seeing their name.

My ‘notes this week’ take different forms — straight typing, photos of student sticky notes, voice recording,..

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There are many benefits to having a blogging program in your classroom. One advantage is that blogging can be the perfect avenue to teach digital citizenship.

What is digital citizenship? Not so long ago “cyber safety” or “cyber bullying” were key terms associated with our “internet safety” programs. Now as our world becomes increasingly digital, our associated challenges, rights, and responsibilities are changing.

Digital citizenship is used as more of an umbrella term for our goals to help our students to be safe, happy, productive, and ethical online. These same goals that we have for our students’ online experiences also apply to their offline world.

Common Sense Media’s curriculum identifies eight topics under the umbrella of digital citizenship including: internet safety, cyberbullying, copyright and more. They describe digital citizenship as,

empowering your students with skills to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly online, allowing them to connect and collaborate in meaningful ways.

All teachers know how important digital citizenship is.

Students don’t always have the life experience or brain development to navigate technology safely and effectively. So, like many other areas of life, they need guidance from trusted adults.

We also know what a big role technology plays in our students’ lives. Even if students are not online very much during the school day (or online on “protected” platforms), many begin connecting, sharing, viewing etc. as soon as they walk out the school gates.

As educators, we can’t ignore this fact or waste the opportunity to tap into students’ interests and help steer them in the right direction.

But how do we teach digital citizenship?

There are many stand-alone lessons or units of work out there. Some schools “tick the box” by covering digital citizenship in the first few weeks of the school year and then move on.

I believe digital citizenship education is most beneficial when it is ongoing and authentic. A blogging program offers this.

I also believe that digital citizenship education should begin very early on, as soon as children begin accessing the internet. Blogging allows a simple awareness of digital citizenship to start being developed at any age, even in kindergarten classrooms. Then, students can progressively build on their knowledge and skills.

Blogging can offer not only a safe space to practice digital citizenship, but also authentic dilemmas, discussions, and interactions. And hopefully blogging is something that’s weaved into your classroom program so it’s ongoing throughout the year.

Let’s look at eight ways blogging can be used to teach digital citizenship.

1) Netiquette

Netiquette, or online etiquette, describes the positive standards we set for online behavior. Like many aspects of digital citizenship, the same standards you’d set for offline encounters apply to online interactions. So, being courteous, polite, responsive, friendly, respectful etc.

Commenting on other blogs is a fabulous way to practice and discuss netiquette.

When deciding what makes a quality comment, classes can discuss things such as:

  • giving compliments
  • delivering feedback constructively
  • using positive language
  • asking questions and engaging in conversation
  • being a reliable online friend
  • staying relevant and on-topic
  • avoiding ambiguous communication (eg. ALL CAPS could be interpreted as shouting)

A one-off lesson just wouldn’t have the same impact as ongoing authentic communication through blog comments.

2) Digital Footprints

The whole concept of digital footprints or online reputations is becoming more important than ever.

Publishing on a public blog means putting yourself out there for others to see. While this might seem scary at first, blogging can offer the ideal opportunity to learn and practice the skill of managing your digital identity.

We must consider if we’d rather our students:

a) are guided in the process of publishing online on an authentic yet “less risky” platform, or

b) go it alone and publish online without guidance

We know that having no digital footprint at all is no longer an ideal option. Potential employers and higher education institutions increasingly consider individuals’ online profiles and search results when making selections. Who knows how else digital footprints will be used as our students grow up.

3) Content Curation And Creativity

A big part of being an internet user is being able to effectively research, curate, and share information. This involves critical thinking and creativity.

Students could practice this skill randomly. Or, they could develop their skills over time through a blogging program.

John Spencer explains how content curation is a vital part of the creative process in his post, “Getting Started with Content Curation in the Classroom”. 

..if you watch people engaged in creative work, they are often critical consumers of the same type of work they create. There’s this ongoing cycle of critical consuming, inspiration, and creative work. As they create more, it leads to a deeper ability to consume critically, where they find more inspiration, and the cycle continues.

Image: John Spencer, www.spencerauthor.com

Creativity is a skill that’s always going to be in high demand. How amazing would it be if all our students graduated being able to confidently and fluently follow this cycle of critical consuming-inspiration-creative work?

4) Methods Of Communication

Blogging is a popular method of communication. But when you break it down further, you can see that there are many elements to using a blog for communication. These could be:

  • written posts
  • audio posts
  • written comments
  • video
  • multimedia and embedded content
  • RSS and email subscriptions

Then when you begin to form connections through blogging, there might be new opportunities for communication. For example, skyping or emailing blogging buddies, or collaborating on Google Docs.

A blogging program offers an amazing way for students to learn and practice various forms of communication. Not so long ago, students had limited choice in how they could communicate. It was basically pen and paper, or Microsoft Word if you were lucky.

Now there has been an explosion of tools for online communication and the biggest dilemma is often now finding the right tool for the job, and learning how to communicate clearly and responsibly.

As students progress as bloggers they can begin to make their own choices about communication. This independence and experience will certainly benefit them both as students and members of society.

5) Copyright and Creative Commons

Bloggers quickly learn that they need images to enhance their blog posts. But where do they find images?

Blogging is the perfect way to teach students that the can’t just rely on Google Images and they need to either create their own pictures or use Creative Commons work.

Through blogging, students can learn how to become fluent at sourcing, using, and attributing images. These sorts of lessons would have little meaning or impact without a real purpose.

Our Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons is a popular resource with more advice on this topic. I have also published a guide on my own blog to finding free images with a breakdown of some websites you mind find useful.

6) Health And Wellness

Encouraging children to be healthy both physically and mentally has always been a key concern for educators and caregivers. With mounting (real or perceived) pressure to be constantly connected comes the need to set up healthy habits.

Through blogging, there can be classroom discussions about taking breaks from digital devices (for example, you can set boundaries as to when you’ll reply to blog comments).

Another interesting topic is staying focused Vs multitasking. It’s easy to multitask when you’re writing blog posts. You have the distractions of the internet at your fingertips. Even if you put aside email and social media, it can be tempting to switch between researching, writing, finding images, and all the other things you need to do to put a post together.

Research shows that true multitasking just isn’t humanly possible. Being able to stay focused is certainly a healthy habit and also seems to be a desirable attribute of our future workforce. This is something that can be practiced through blogging.

7) Passwords

The divisions between our online and offline worlds are blurring and many of our most valuable possessions and information are now housed online. Students need to learn to use passwords/passphrases. This can be practiced through blogging if students have their own blog or have user accounts for the class blog.

Through blogging, students can seamlessly learn:

  • what a strong password is
  • how to create a strong password
  • how to remember passwords
  • how to keep passwords safe.

If you want to learn more about passwords, we have a post with advice for teachers and students.

8) Digital Access

Digital access is often an invisible issue in education. There are all sorts of barriers to equitable access to technology for students.

These barriers might include:

  • physical or learning challenges
  • having limited access to devices or internet
  • living in rural areas
  • being part of a low-income community
  • gender or ethnicity

The list goes on!

What does this have to do with blogging? Firstly, blogging can be a way to raise awareness about digital access. Students could also help come up with some practical ways to make technology more accessible. This could include anything from lunchtime or after school clubs for those without technology at home, to finding ways to make blog posts more accessible to the vision impaired.

When connecting with other classes globally, I personally found that we were connecting with a lot of classes from similar “wealthy”/first world/English speaking backgrounds. Once aware of this, I began making a concerted effort to broaden our horizons. Sometimes an awareness is a good spark to initiate change.

You might introduce students to a website like Internet Live Stats which presents live data on internet use worldwide. It’s easy to live in a bubble of your own community. Students might be surprised by some of the data on this website, including the fact that only 40% of the world’s population has internet access.

When we get going with technology in the classroom, the gap between the “have” and “have not” can widen. It’s important to not only keep this in the back of your mind as an educator, but raise the issue with students as well.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many ways that blogging can be a useful catalyst for bringing digital citizenship into the classroom. Sometimes, stand-alone lessons or even mini-lessons on digital citizenship are useful and necessary too. But if you’re looking for something that provides authentic and ongoing opportunities for teachable moments, blogging is ideal.

Also remember, digital citizenship education is not just about protecting but also about empowering. Blogging is an excellent way to begin empowering students with the skills, knowledge, and practice they need to navigate their evolving digital lives.

What do you think? Have you taught any elements of digital citizenship through blogging?

What other strategies do you use to cover digital citizenship in your classroom?

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Dear blogger,

You have such wonderful ideas to share!

Your content is excellent; it’s just that I find myself skimming your posts, because, to be frank, your posts are … kind of hard to read.

It’s not that your writing isn’t “correct”, it’s just that things have changed since you learned to write.

In fact, it might be time to forget a lot of what you learned about writing at school.

Can we chat about making your blog posts easier to read?

With thanks,
A hopeful reader

Getting a blog post together isn’t easy, is it? You have to put all the distractions on your computer aside and focus on one task: tapping away at the keyboard and organizing all your thoughts until your post takes shape.

So, of course, you want people to actually read your post. Whether your audience is students, parents, or educators, you have an important message to share.

There are many personal benefits to simply writing too. Many bloggers describe how writing helps them organize and develop their thinking. However, if this is the only reason you’re writing, you probably wouldn’t be publishing on a public blog, would you?

So how do you encourage your visitors to not only start reading your blog post but also stick around to the end?

Maybe the solution isn’t changing your words. Maybe it’s simply changing your styling and post layout.

Here are ten tips for making your blog posts easier to read. I hope you’ll share your ideas in a comment too.

1) Paragraphs and Sentences

Is there anything more off-putting than clicking on a blog post and seeing a great big block of text?

You want to read it but there is nothing for your eyes to grab on to. Try as you might, you find yourself skimming and not fully comprehending the content.

The truth is, a digital paragraph is different from an analog paragraph. The way we consume media online is different to the way we consume media offline.

There was a popular post on The Slate a few years back called “You Won’t Finish This Article“. It shares data demonstrating that most people don’t even scroll down after they arrive on your post; they leave your blog almost immediately. The data published in The Slate estimates that most visitors read about 50% of your content. 50% might even be optimistic when looking at similar statistics from other sources.

Short paragraphs make your posts more readable.

Instead of starting a new paragraph when the topic changes, consider keeping your paragraphs only a few sentences long and play around with length and rhythm. Sometimes you’ll have slightly longer paragraphs, and sometimes you might have a paragraph that’s only one sentence long for impact (that’s not what your teacher taught you at school, is it?).

When it comes to writing online, paragraph structure is more of an art than a formulaic science.

The same rhythmic variation works well for sentence structure and length as well.

Gary Vorst demonstrates,

2) Fonts

There is a lot of debate and research out there about typography or font choice. Personally, I find a common issue is bloggers using a font that’s too small.

Professional bloggers generally opt to use larger sized fonts now as it enhances the readability of online text. Some bloggers haven’t caught onto this. Combining a small font with long paragraphs is a sure fire way to have readers skim a post and close their tab, no matter how good the content is.

If you’re using Edublogs, there is a handy plugin called Supreme Google Webfonts. It allows you to change the type and size of the fonts in your post. Have fun playing around but obviously look for a font that will be easy to read. Another useful tip is to stay consistent with your font choice.

3) Headings

Sub-headings are an excellent way to break up the text while enhancing the readability and comprehension of your post. This sounds like something we covered at school now, doesn’t it? Or maybe not?

I admit, it wasn’t until last year (after many years of blogging) that I discovered I was using headings all wrong. I thought the idea was to pick a heading based on size and appearance.

It turns out, there is another layer to heading choice on blog posts.

Heading tags not only enhance your blog post visually but help organize the content of your blog. This helps search engines like Google scan and categorize your information.

If you want to follow blogging best practice, you technically aren’t supposed to skip a heading level.

Heading 1 will already be used for your blog post title. When you’re writing posts (or pages) you should use Heading 2 for post sub-headings. Then if you nest other sub-headings under that, you’d use Heading 3 and so on. You probably wouldn’t have a need for Heading 5 onwards.

Structuring your post with this hierarchy can also assist blind readers who rely on screen readers to access your content (find out more about accessibility issues in point ten).

4) Lists and Bullet Points

Most writers know the value of bullet points. Listicles, or posts with numbered lists, are hugely popular too (hey, this whole blog post is a listicle!).

Here are five reasons why numbered lists or bullet points are great:

  • They make your content easier to digest
  • They break up information and offer more white space on the page
  • They offer your eyes something to grab onto
  • They keep you moving through the content, rather than skipping over a paragraph
  • Readers can easily chunk or categorize information

Need I say more?

5) Links

Hyperlinks are one way that digital writing is very different from traditional writing. In fact, this is a topic that we could really invest a lot of time in exploring with our students. If you’re interested in learning more about hyperlinked writing, check out some of the posts by Silvia Tolisano (Langwitches).

From a visual point of view, hyperlinks or bold words are another good way to make key pieces of information in your post stand out. It draws you in when you’re skimming or scanning the page.

Of course there are other reasons why hyperlinks enhance your post:

  • It’s polite and ethically correct to acknowledge your sources
  • It can add depth to your topic if readers can go elsewhere to learn more
  • Linking to credible sources can back up what you’re saying
  • Your readers will hang around your blog longer if you link to other relevant posts you’ve written

Here are two things to remember about using hyperlinks:

  • Try to make your links descriptive and weave them into your sentence, rather than saying “…click here, here, and here“. (Yep, I used to be guilty of the latter once upon a time).
  • Don’t go overboard with links. Stay relevant and focus on quality over quantity.
6) Images

When you’re scanning posts, no doubt your eyes are naturally drawn to images. Breaking up your text with some visuals can definitely make your blog posts easier to read.

But not all images are created equal.

Firstly, make sure you’re not using copyright images. I’m sure you know, you can’t just use anything you find on Google Images. We have a post all about copyright, Creative Commons, and fair use if you’d like to learn more.

Also, make sure your images are enhancing your post and helping your readers to gain an understanding of what the post is about. Too many decorative or abstract images might be confusing.

Finally, remember that you can use more than simple pictures. You can embed all sorts of media in your blog posts such as comics, quizzes, polls, videos, social media, and more. We have a help guide about embedding media if you need more information about this.

7) Color

Color in blog posts is a contentious topic. Certainly on professional blogs, you’ll generally just see bloggers sticking to the traditional black fonts.

But what school teacher doesn’t like color? I used to use color a lot on my own class blogs.

Some teachers of very young students use different colors to type their students’ responses in a blog post. Then they could tell the student to show their parents the “blue comment” when they get home, for example.

Sometimes color is used for tasks on student blogs. For example, Zehra responded to a news video by using color coding for summary, facts, understandings and questions.

If you do use color, remember:

  • Be consistent: For example, I used to always use red for my closing questions on a class blog post. It helped students know what to look out for when responding to the post.
  • Choose colors wisely: Clearly darker/contrasting colors are going to be best. Yellow or aqua on a white background is not going to enhance the readability of your post.
8) Alignment

I’ve shared with you a few of my “mistakes” from my early years of blogging. Here is another one: I used to center align all of my text. Oh dear.

When I look at blog posts with center aligned text now I find them very hard to read. The starting point of each line constantly changes, so it’s hard work to keep track of where you’re up to.

Left aligned text is best as demonstrated below.

9) Widgets

In my experience, students love widgets! Many teachers do too.

Some widgets add a lot of value to your blog. They help visitors find relevant content and related blogs. They can offer families the chance to subscribe to the blog or stay up to date via a class calendar.

There are also a plethora of fun widgets out there: jokes of the day, virtual pets, music widgets, weather widgets, random facts … the list goes on.

If you want visitors to be reading your blog posts, you probably don’t want them distracted by too many widgets on your sidebars. Furthermore, excess widgets can slow down the loading time of your blog.

Like many aspects of blogging, it’s worth considering how you can strike a balance. Maybe less is more.

10) Alternative Text And Accessibility

You want to make your blog posts readable for everyone, including visitors who are vision impaired. This is an issue that is overlooked by many bloggers.

You might not realize that vision impaired visitors to your site may be using assistive technology like screen readers or other software which reads the page out loud.

This software will read the alternative text (alt text) instead of the image.

You can see how it would be difficult for a vision impaired visitor to take in your content if it is full of images that they can’t access.

Adding the alt text is easy. When you upload an image, there is a box where you can write your description before pressing ‘Insert Into Post’.

You can describe what you image looks like. Or write a brief description of the content if it’s a graph, chart, or other visual.

Alt text is just one way you..

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You might have read about the benefits of blogging, or admired what others are doing with their class blogs, but have no idea where to start?

If you’re brand new to blogging, this guide is for you.

What Is A Blog?

First, check out this video that describes what exactly a blog is and how it works.

What is a Blog - YouTube

Permission

The next step if you’re blogging with students is to make sure you have all the permission you need. This post will help. It outlines a three step process we recommend and includes sample notes you can use too.

Starting Your Blog

This new 15 minute video tutorial walks you through setting up your blog. It’s like a quick start guide to get you going if you’re totally new to blogging.

Getting Started With Edublogs - YouTube

Want to go over some of the topics covered in this video again, or in more depth?

Here are the links to the specific written tutorials.

Note About CampusPress

Before signing up with Edublogs, you might want to check if your district or state already has a CampusPress subscription. This is Edublogs with your school’s own branding and some premium features.

If your school or district does have a CampusPress subscription, instead of going to edublogs.org to get your blog, head straight to your CampusPress site.

Help And Support

Now it’s time to explore our help and support site further. This is the place where you can find everything you need to know about setting up and customizing your blog.

Make yourself familiar with the search function and the user guides.

Note: All the Edublogs help resources also apply to CampusPress blogs.

Further Reading Contact Us

Need more help? You can email our support team any time. 

Conclusion

It can sometimes feel overwhelming to look at established blogs with lots of content and attractive features. Comparison paralysis or fear of imperfection is common when starting something new. Please don’t worry!

At the end of the day, the best way to learn is to start. Your first blog posts probably won’t be perfect but that doesn’t matter. Demonstrating to your students that you too are a learner and willing to give new things a go is an excellent trait.

So it’s time to jump in and start blogging. Have fun!

Please comment and let us know if you found these resources helpful or if there is anything else that would be beneficial to help you start blogging.

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