Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Three Elements I Always Add to Classroom Blogs

As the new school year approaches many of us will be setting up new classroom blogs or revamping the ones we've used in the past. If you're setting up a classroom blog for the first time, here are the three elements that I always add to classroom blogs.

1. Google Calendar: I embed a Google Calendar into the right column of my blog. It doesn't matter where you place it as long as it is prominent. I'm a big fan of using Google Calendar as a place to write agendas for each class. I write the agendas into the events on the calendar so that students and their parents can see them. I also attach any documents or other files needed for that day's lesson to the calendar event. In this post you can learn how to create Google Calendar events, how to add attachments to them, and how to embed Google Calendars.

2. Static pages for frequently referenced materials: I like to have a static page rather than a post about classroom norms. The page is linked in either the header or the top of a side column where students and their parents can easily find it. As the year goes on, I may add pages for things like review guides and assessment rubrics.

3. An easy way to contact me: Over the years I've used SpeakPipe and Google Voice widgets to provide an easy for students and their parents to leave voicemail messages for me by simply clicking a widget on my blog. Both services provide text transcriptions of the voicemails left for me. I can read those transcripts in my email. Google Voice may soon be phased out by Google in favor of Google+ calling so at this point my recommendation is to use SpeakPipe. If SpeakPipe isn't your thing, at least put a direct link that students and their parents can click to email you.

I'll be covering these topics and much more in my next Practical Ed Tech webinar series Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders.