How to encourage blog visitors

It is great to see that again this year, so many people have been willing to give blogging a go! Some of you, especially those new to blogging this year, might be getting to the stage where you are disheartened because it appears like no one is visiting the blog and the work feels like it is all for nothing. It can be tricky to encourage involvement, and like everything, it takes a bit of work. Once the ball starts rolling, however, it soon picks up momentum!

So, what could you do to encourage visitors to your blog? Here are some ideas:

1.     Teach visitors how to use the blog.

Blogging is probably just as new for parents as it is for you. Do they know how to use your blog? You might like to send home some instructions on how to use the blog (for example, Perhaps you could invite them in to the classroom on an open afternoon and show them how?

2.     Encourage parents to become ‘blogging supporters’

Do you have parents who would like to help in the classroom, but can’t come in during the day? Surely being involved and communicating with the kids would be much more exciting for them than laminating or cutting. Ask these parents to become ‘blogging supporters’. Ask them to write one or two comments on the blog each week that the grade will respond to. This job could also be great for older siblings and grandparents!

3.    Show your visitors you care.

Make sure each visitor and commenter to your  blog  feels valued. If you don’t reply to them, are they likely to visit in the future? Use this as a whole class modelled writing opportunity, or pick some students to write a response on behalf of the grade. The kids love this opportunity and I can tell you it encourages them to get others to comment, as they love being the one who knows the person you are replying to. Kids will also tell their parents that you have looked at their comment in class.

4.     Promote discussion

How are you encouraging your visitors to become involved? End each post with a question or questions so that they have something to contribute. For example;

5.     Make it relevant

Be picky about what you post on your blog. Will your visitors return if it is just post after post of ads and forms? What content will they want to see? Don’t overload the blog; pick quality over quantity and post a few good posts.

6.     Give your students ownership

Your students will be the biggest champions for your blog and are much more likely to promote it if they have ownership over it. Give students the chance to write the posts for your blog, or take photos for your blog. Ask them for ideas for graphics or work. Ask them what work they are proud of and what they would like to share with their families on the blog. It’s a sure fire way to get them encouraging their parents to check it out!

7.     Remind them it exists

People leave busy lives, and may forget your blog exists. Remind them with an email summary every now and then of things they have missed on your blog, such as

8.     Make it a competition

If all else fails, bring out the competitive nature in the kids (and your families). Have a blogging competition between your students, your buddy grade or year level. Award points for each comment that is posted on your blog, with bonus points for interstate and overseas commenters. For example;

9.     Take your classroom global

Make a connection with another grade elsewhere in the world and become blogging buddies. Or why not give quadblogging a go! ( Quadblogging involves pairing up with three other classes from around the world, and spending a week visiting and commenting on each other’s posts.


 What else do you do to promote visitors to your class blog?

Have any of these tips worked for you?


Initial inspiration from this post on ‘Primary Tech‘. Thanks Kathleen! 

Investigating the Olympics

Sites of Use

The sites in the list below will be very handy for learning more about the London 2012 Olympics. You may also like to use some of these resources to investigate the countries participating in the Olympic Games.

  TIME for Kids: Olympics 2012
The TIME website has information about the torch relay, venues, sports, athletes and the history of London.
Athlete Profiles
Profiles of each of the athletes in the Australian Olympic Team.
Olympic Values
Videos with Australian athletes talking about the AOC’s Olympic values; Attitude, Sportsmanship, Pride, Individual Responsibility, Respect and Express Yourself.
Ancient Greeks: The Olympics
This website from the BBC talks a lot about the history of the Ancient Olympics in Greece.
  The Sports
Information and interesting facts about each of the sports Australia will be competing in at the games.
  Children’s Olympics
Test your knowledge of the Olympics, sports and science with this fun quiz.


Investigating Countries and Cultures

Here is a collection of resources that will be useful for investigating different countries and cultures. Use these websites as a starting point for your information before attempting to use Google to find answers.

Remember to look at menus, headings and for links on the sites, just like you would use a contents page or index in a book. Just because the information is not on the first page you look at, does not mean it is not there.

Starting Point

Start by searching for your country on Qwiki. Look and listen for key words about your country that may provide you with topics to investigate later on! For example, find the names of major cities, historical events and famous people so you can search for these topics later.

You may then like to look up your country on the Simple English Wikipedia. If you find this article to easy or simple, you might then try the main English Wikipedia. Again, look for key words and phrases. This is not your main research, but a starting point.

Remember, just because it is written on the internet does not make it a fact! Does the information on Wikipedia match Qwiki and the other websites you visit?


Sites of Use

Do you now have some basic information about your country? You are ready to go further using the following sites!

TIME for Kids: Around the World
The TIME website ‘Around the World’ has information on a wide selection of countries. It has great inforomation about national histories, entertainment, language and ‘a day in the life’.
National Geographic Countries Explorer
Use the arrows to navigate through this easy to read and understand website. Also has great videos, photos and maps.
  Global Trek
Enter a country to visit and you will be able to find information about the country and its people.
BBC Country Profiles
This website has more detailed information on each of the countries around the world.
  CIA World Factbook
The CIA World Factbook has statistics on all of the world’s countries.

Starting the search for information

It’s the start of a new term, which for many will mean beginning a new topic of study in class. Students may have no prior knowledge on the topic, so will be starting from scratch researching.

Beginning to look for information online is a daunting task! There is so much out there, presented in so many different ways. Often, the response is to just ‘google’ it. How useful is this though? How much do we gain from this? How much does a grade three student? A search for the keyword ‘London’ (considering is is the Olympic term) returns 2.1 BILLION results. Is this going to be a useful starting point for discussing London and the Olympic Games (which return a mere 287 million results)?

It is important to use appropriate keywords when searching, as this will greatly reduce the number of results and start to identify what you want (for example, adding ‘Olympics 2012′ to London reduces your results by more than half). It’s also important to consider the best took to search though. Here are three tools you may like to try as a different way of beginning to look for information this term.


My favourite new tool, which I think has great possibilities especially for students in primary classes. Qwiki uses a variety of sources, including Flickr and Wikipedia, to prepare a short, animated multimedia presentation on a topic. How much more interesting to use. For those students still developing their reading skills, how much easier is it to understand? Here is a Qwiki on London:

On the Qwiki website, you will notice there are related Qwikis for this topic as well. A great point for further research. Remember however, that this is just a starting point. Hopefully something that you see in the qwiki will get you started on the track to further information.

Tag Galaxy

Why does all research have to be text based? Tag Galaxy uses photos collected from Flickr to produce a photographic representation of the topic you’re investigating. Here’s some of London:

The globe is interactive so can be turned, regenerated and enlarged. How could these photos provide discussion and ideas for further research? What do they tell us about our topic without reading a word?

Simple English Wikipedia

Finding resources online at an appropriate reading level for primary students can be tricky. Many of us use Wikipedia as a starting point for research, but the language used in the articles is well beyond many primary students. Enter Simple English Wikipedia:

SE Wikipedia is designed to be written and understood with a vocabulary of less than 1000 words. This is well within the grasp of most primary students. The articles, on the whole, usually contain less information on the main page, which is far less daunting. Here is a comparison of the SE Wikipedia article on London and the regular English Wikipedia article. This shows the first two paragraphs of each.

As with regular Wikipedia, each of the blue words represents a link. You can click on these links to find the article for that word, and more information. Many of the large words or nouns are articles themselves; a perfect way to develop meaning and vocabulary too.

Obviously, the article contains less information, although this won’t necessarily be relevant anyways for a primary student. If you want more detail though, you can visit the same article on English Wikipedia. There are links between the two on the left hand side under ‘languages’. (Maybe you have an ESL student who may benefit from reading the article in their native language!)

Do you have any other tools you use when looking for information onlin?

Have these tools worked for you?

Including video on your blog

Assuming you have blogging permission for each student, the best way to place video on your blog is using the site Vimeo. You can create your own account and follow the instructions below to do it yourself. Alternatively, place your video files on the T:/ under ‘Digital Literacy/Videos’ then send me an email, and I will upload them to the school account for you.


Doing it Yourself

To start with, you will need to register a Vimeo account:

You can create your video using a range of different tools: Windows Live Movie Maker, Movie Maker 2.6, iMovie, PhotoStory etc. The files should be saved as MP4, MOV or WMV in order to be uploaded.

When you have logged in to Vimeo, go to the menu up the top and click on ‘Upload’.

When you are on the upload page, you will need to switch to the Flash uploader. The AJAX uploader will not work on our network (if your computer is like mine, the AJAX one works at home, the Flash doesnt… try it out). Please keep in mind the need to follow copyright law… do not use copyrighted music in your videos.

When your video is uploaded, it will need to process. This can take up to an hour. It will send you an email when done.

You will then be able to change the settings. Under ‘Privacy’, un tick the option ‘Allow other people to download the source video’ and ‘Allow other people to add this video to groups, channels and albums.’ Also, under ‘Who can post comments on this video?’ change the option to ‘Only my contacts’.

You may also like to change your Thumbnail, to make it something more relevant than the one it chooses.

Now, to get it in your blog.

To see your video on Vimeo, go up on the top menu to ‘Videos’ and then select ‘My Videos’. Select the video you want.

When you are viewing the video, if you hover over the clip you will see some options. One says ‘Embed’, as shown below. Click here.

This will bring up the embed menu which looks like this.

If you’re happy with basic settings, leave it as is. You can also customise the options by clicking on customise at the bottom of the menu. You may like to make it bigger… dont make it more than 600px wide though as this is as wide as most themes will take.

When you are ready to embed, you need to COPY the code from the textbox at the top of the above menu. This is then going to go into your blog.

To put it in your blog, create a new post. Write your introduction. You will then need to switch to HTML mode using the tabs at the top of the posting blog.

You can then paste your Vimeo code here (on a new line) and press Publish. Badda bing, badda boom, your video should now be on your blog. Pasting it in Visual mode will not work as it will not turn the code into code.

I hope that all made sense.. post below if you have any questions or send me an email :).