As previously discussed, class blogs can be of great use in engaging students, and fueling their success in and out of the classroom. I personally first started using a class blog in 2014 with my Geography students. I had already tried several blogging platforms for personal use, such as Tumblr, Blogger, and LiveJournal, but while initially impressed with their features and overall look, had since become disenchanted, when I stumbled upon WordPress. WordPress did have a learning curve, and I continue to learn new ways of interacting with it, and leveraging its tools, but it is well worth the time and effort because of all the customization you can do with it, and all the features available.
I created a class blog, and can’t now remember what I initially had in mind, but here are a few features that I used and absolutely recommend to anyone just starting out with a blog:
- Create a “Documents” page, where I uploaded any and all handouts given to students in class, for easy access (this saved students on a number of occasions!)
- After class, create a post sharing what was discussed in class, and any YouTube videos shown, as well as the homework assigned
- When students form groups for working a class project, post names of students in groups and assigned task/topic on the blog (for privacy reasons, I put only students’ first name, and last initial) for easy reference later
- Extra credit! This was a great way to get students using the blog often. I would randomly post extra credit opportunities (usually articles that expand on the lesson, followed by a related activity and/or questions) on the blog). The rule was, I would not announce it in class, so they had to be paying attention, because any extra credits I posted on the blog, must be turned in within a week of being posted.
WordPress may be tricky at first, but there are many many videos on YouTube giving you the basics. Additionally, WordPress has some articles on their website about how to get started.