Monday, August 5, 2013

A Few Widgets To Consider Adding To Your Classroom Blog

I've been fortunate to have been invited to lead quite a few blogging workshops over the last couple of years. In nearly all of those workshops there are a few widgets that I generally recommend adding to classroom blogs and websites.

SpeakPipe is a service that allows visitors to your blog to leave you voice messages without picking up a phone. With SpeakPipe installed on your blog anyone can click on the "send voicemail" button and leave a message for you. When a visitor clicks the "leave voicemail" button she will be prompted to allow access to her computer. Then the visitor can start recording a message for you. Visitors can, but don't have to, enter their names and email addresses for you. You can listen to and download the messages left for you in your SpeakPipe inbox. SpeakPipe has easy-to-install plugins for Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr. It took me about two minutes to install SpeakPipe on a Blogger blog. For use on other blogging platforms SpeakPipe has a script that you can install manually.

Google Voice is an alternative to SpeakPipe that I used in the past. You can read about that here.

DropItToMe is a service that integrates with to allow students to upload files to my Dropbox account without seeing the contents of my account. DROPitTOme works by synchronizing with your Drop Box account. After connecting the two services DROPitTOme provides a url that you can give to others to upload files to your Drop Box account. You must specify a password that has to be entered before an upload can take place. Give the url and password to those people you want to be able to upload files to your Drop Box account.

Your classroom blog doesn't have to be all business all the time. Consider adding a fun, educational game to your blog. Having a game on it could make your blog a little more appealing and hopefully help your students get in the habit of visiting your blog on a regular basis. Novel Games offers more than 200 games that you can embed into your blog, wiki, or website for free. Most of the games are simple logic games, basic mathematics games, geography games, and spelling games like hangman. Novel Games also offers Sudoku and Mahjongg games.

Create a public Google Calendar and embed it into your blog to share all kinds of helpful information. In my Google Calendars events I include links to public Google Documents that include outlines of upcoming lesson plans.