With the start of school upon us, many teachers may be considering setting up a class blog for sharing and disseminating information. Class blogs are becoming more common and teachers are finding them useful tools for posting assignments and keeping students informed of class activities. Blogs can also encourage better communication, collaboration and encouraging students to work together in meaningful and creative ways.
More and more schools are now using Google’s G Suite for Education that includes Google Classroom as a way to help educators increase opportunities for critical thinking, communication and collaboration; however, not all schools have these resources set up and some teachers prefer to have their own unique website/blog.
Having a teacher blog will allow you supplement your textbook by linking to updated, interesting content that is available online. You can also embed engaging Youtube videos relating to your topic to encourage student participation in a modern, digital way.
While there are many free blogging platforms to choose from such as WordPress, Blogger or Blog.com, WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform. WordPress has been around since 2003 and, according to Wikipedia, as of April 2018, is used by more than 60 million websites.
WordPress is an excellent platform for blogs as it is a free and an open-source content management system (CMS) which means you don’t have to pay for upgrades every time there is a new release of software. Also, once you know how to use it, you can maintain your blog yourself so you never have to pay anyone every time you want to make a change. There are actually two versions of WordPress. WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is free and and great for a teacher website as you can get started with a free site and be on your way to publishing in less than five minutes. It includes a WordPress.com subdomain, community support, dozens of free themes and basic design customization although it comes with drawbacks. Keep in mind that you do not own your website when you run your blog on WordPress.com. For example, if you want to use your name as your blog name, a common practice among teachers, your website URL will have a WordPress.com extension and will look like the following: MrsStellaBuntin.WordPress.com
WordPress.org is also free but in order for WordPress.org to work properly, it has to be installed on a web server such as Bluehost or downloaded to your local computer. While most teachers find wordpress.com sufficient for classroom blogs, it’s good to know the difference. So in our example above , our domain name for Mrs. Stella Buntin would be mrsstellabuntin.com vs mrsstellabuntin.wordpress.com if hosted on the WordPress.com free website option. If you’re interested in starting a blog with your own domain name, view my blog post on How to start a blog with WordPress using Bluehost. Otherwise, if you’d like to set up a blog for free on WordPress.com, follow the instructions below:
How to Start a Blog for Free on WordPress.com
- Go to wordpress.com and click on the Get Started button.
- On the Step 1 of 4 screen, fill in the form with your site name, what your site is about and what the primary goal you have for your site. Go to the Step 2.
- On the Step 2 of 4 screen, enter your site URL. This is your website address that your students and parents will type in when they want to view your blog. Remember that it will have a wordpress.com extension. In my example, I have chosen officeskillstraining so my website address with my free wordpress.com blog will be officeskillstraining.wordpress.com.
- WordPress.com will be happy to sell you domain names and hosting at this point so be sure to select the free option. There are better, more affordable options out there for you if you want to pay for a domain name and hosting. See my blog post on How to start a blog using WordPress.org and Bluehost. Go to step 3,
- On the Step 3 of 4 screen, pick a plan. Make sure you select the Free option by clicking on the Start with Free button.
- On the Step 4 of 4 screen, create your wordpress.com account. WordPress.com will send you an email to the email address you entered asking you to confirm your account.
- Click the Login to WordPress link in your welcome email and then login with the username and password you set up above. You will be presented with the WordPress dashboard telling you your WordPress site has been created and it will look something like the following:
Congratulations! You now have a classroom blog and you are ready to set up your blog. To learn how to select a theme, customize a theme, update your tagline, create a static home page, create a custom menu, set up your social media buttons and create and edit posts, view the WordPress.com tutorial below on How to Setup a Website in 5 Steps. Links to additional WordPress.com tutorials can be found here.
Tags: class blog, classroom blogs, classroom resources, create a blog, education blogs, educational blogs for teachers, free blog, free blog sites, how to start a blog, school blog, teacher blogs, teacher websites