Category Archives: Blogging

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, http://sites.berwickfieldsps.vic.edu.au/6a2013/using-the-blog/). 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; http://sites.berwickfieldsps.vic.edu.au/6a2013/03/6a-news-edition-2/

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 http://sites.berwickfieldsps.vic.edu.au/6a2013/03/week-6-email-news/

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; http://sites.berwickfieldsps.vic.edu.au/6a2012/2012/05/05/blogging-challenge/

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! (http://quadblogging.net/) Quadblogging involves pairing up with three other classes from around the world, and spending a week visiting and commenting on each other’s posts. http://sites.berwickfieldsps.vic.edu.au/6a2012/2012/05/16/383/

 

 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! 

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: http://www.vimeo.com.

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 :).

Resizing Images

When you download an image from your camera to your computer, chances are the file size will range from 3MB to 10MB+. They also have a huge resolution, well beyond what is needed for the blogs or using on the school computers. The large photo size will cause the network to run slow if you are using them as a whole class. When blogging, the file size limit on the blog is 5MB.

There is a handy tool you can use however to resize your images as a batch in Windows. It is, funnily enough, called Image Resizer. You can download it here: http://imageresizer.codeplex.com/.

When you have downloaded the program and installed it, it adds an option to the menu when you right click on a photo, like the one below.

You can select multiple photos at the same time as well to resize, rather than just one.

When you’ve selected your photo or photos, click the option in the menu and a box like the one below will show up:

You can select which size you want your images to end up. The large option is more than sufficient for blogging or use at school. It will decrease file size from 5MB+ to about 250kb… about 20 times smaller!

When you have pressed resize, you will end up with the new resized files.

Use these files for uploading to the blog, or copying to the network, and you should find it a whole lot faster. It should also save you from running out of space on your blog!

Adding a ClustrMap

It’s great to see so many blogs up and running now across the school. So many of you have created posts and had students commenting on questions and what has been happening in the classroom. As we take small steps to grow our blogging knowledge, what might you do next?

One feature you may like to add to your blog is a ClustrMap.

What is a ClustrMap?

A ClustrMap is like a counter, that records the number of visitors to your blog and where they have come from. For example, here is the ClustrMap for our 56C blog last year.

On our blog, it appears as a widget in the sidebar like this. It shows the number of visitors to the blog as well.

Why would I want a ClustrMap?

There are many reasons why you might choose to install a ClustrMap on your blog. Some of these include:

  • See how many visitors are actually looking at your blog.
  • A point of discussion. Start the day or week looking at your blog (a great habit to get in to!) and seeing who has visited the blog. This also gets the students in the habit of looking at the blog and allows you to highlight what you have put online. It maintains their interest and excitement in the blog as something to check out at home too. Highlight comments they have posted the night before. Check out your map and see which countries have visited the blog. Identify the countries, continents and capital cities. If you haven’t got a visitor from a certain continent, why not find a class with a blog there and visit them – I am sure they will return the favour!
  • Maths discussion. Look at your visitor total and talk about how many visitors you have. What do the digits in the total represent. How many visitors do you need to reach 100? 1000? 5000? Predict where you will be tomorrow or at the end of the week. Great quick mental maths problems. Keep a track over a week and see what the difference is. (Thanks to Kathleen Morris’s post for ideas here)

How do I install a ClustrMap?

  1. Visit the ClustrMaps website: http://www.clustrmaps.com/
  2. In the ‘Create Yours’ box enter your blog’s URL (copy it from the address bar – it will be like http://sites.berwickfieldsps.vic.edu.au/6a2012.
  3. When you press submit you will be taken to an admin page. At the bottom of this page is a text box full of code (it says [A] Recommended Code].) Copy this code.
  4. Open your blog’s Dashboard. Go down to Appearance and click on ‘Widgets’.
  5. You will need to drag a ‘Text’ widget over to the side panel. See picture:


Paste the code you have copied into this text widget, like so:

Click save and then go to your blog. You should have a ClustrMap in your sidebar! Leave it a few days and watch the visitors start to roll in!
As always, if you need any assistance, just pop in and ask. Feel free to share below any questions, problems or ideas you find using the ClustrMap!