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Blogging Resources and Best Practices – Rhonda Jessen.com

Blogging Resources and Best Practices

I have been blogging for about three years, but it has only been since I joined etmooc that I have blogged with any frequency. Last year I mostly blogged to share information and resources from professional development sessions and to share my photos. I am going to try to continue to blog on a regular basis, even after etmooc has ended.

I have been thinking a lot about student blogging lately. I haven’t had my students blog yet; until now I didn’t think I blogged enough to be able to support them. If I were in the classroom this year I would find a way to incorporate students blogs. The more I learn about project/problem-based learning and inquiry the more I see that blogging will be a great tool for Career and Technology Foundations teachers to use once our curriculum is implemented (which should be September 2014.)

There have been a lot of resources shared in etmooc about blogging in the past few weeks, here are some that I have found useful.

Here is a link to the etmooc participant blogs. As of this writing there are 499 subscribed blogs. I admit that it is too many for me to keep up with, especially with all of the connecting, tweeting, posting and rhizomatic learning I have been doing in etmooc. I will catch up on them once things slow down a little bit.

On January 31st I participated in T1S4 – Advanced Blogging etmooc session with the endlessly supportive Sue Waters. It was a fantastic session. In addition to Sue’s wonderful advice and resources there were many resources shared by the session participants. You can watch the archived session here, but I recommend viewing Sue’s blog post where she has summarized what was covered, included links to the archive and images of the slides where participants shared their ideas, and added videos and links to other useful resources.

I have already put some of Sue’s advice into practice, I now have a Creative Commons statement on the right-hand side of my blog. I have been a consumer of Creative Commons resources for years, but had not thought to licence my blog under Creative Commons so others would free to use the content if they thought it would be useful. If you’d like to learn more about Creative Commons and blogging this post from The Blog Herald does a great job of explaining it.

Sue also facilitated an Introduction to Blogging session. You can watch the archive here but I recommend reading Sue’s post about the session, which contains a link to the session, advice about reading others’ blogs and the value of commenting as well as information about blogging. You might also want to read her post Kick Start Your Blogging which is full of great advice and links for new bloggers. It is part of the Edublogs teacher challenge. I also recommend her post getting the most out of student blogging.

Lisa Sanderson has summarized Sue’s session and added some advice from her experiences blogging in the classroom. This post from the Tasmanian eSchool blogging site has a huge amount of resources about blogging in the classroom as well as excellent examples of student and classroom blogs from all grades.

For years I mostly lurked on the web. I rarely commented or shared my own writing. As I have developed my personal learning network over the past few years I have learned that conversations are important, and that the conversations can take place face to face, via email, on Twitter and by commenting on other people’s blogs. I now believe that I have a responsibility to contribute as well as consume, a philosophy which is explained very well in this recent post by Jeff Utecht.

To learn more about how to comment effectively on blogs check out this great post from students in second and third grade (and their teacher Mrs. Yollis) about how to leave a quality comment; one that adds something to the conversation. Now that I am posting more, I see the value of comments. It can feel a bit empty to post something and not get any comments, it makes me wonder if anyone is reading what I write.

One way to generate comments for your student blogs is to tweet about them with the hash tag #comments4kids, not only will it (hopefully) get comments from your followers, but it might also generate comments from others who understand the value of encouraging student bloggers. Here is how Lisa Sanderson explains how #comments4kids works. You can find out more about #comments4kids and find great blogs to comment on here.

If you would like to learn more about student blogging check out Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano‘s slides about Blogging with your Students. Her comprehensive blog has many resources about blogging, as well as many other topics. If you are interested in getting more traffic on your blog check out Larry Ferlazzo’s excellent post on the topic.

As I have declared on Twitter, Sue Water is my new superhero.

@suewaters is my new superhero
@suewaters is my new superhero

Here are some other nuggets that she has shared in response to my questions.

Why does WordPress ask me to log in when I make a comment on someone else’s post?
Technically they aren’t necessarily forcing you to log in but if you use an email address that is attached to one of your WordPress blogs it’ll make you to log in. Which is annoying if it isn’t attached to a blog you want associated with your name. The reason why they give you the WordPress, Twitter and Facebook sign in option is so that you can associate your comment with your preferred social network. So you have the option to use this to help people connect with you.

In your case the best option is to add the username of your preferred main blog to all your other WordPress blogs. Just go to Users > Invite New and add the email address attached to that username. Once they are all connected make sure you go to Dashboard > My Blogs and make sure the one you want associated with your username is the primary blog.

What can I do with those blogs that don’t use anymore?
You can go to Tools > Delete blog however we generally recommend avoiding it where possible as it is easy to make a mistake. The better option is to go to Settings > Reading and change to Block Search engines or make it private. That way there is no chance of deleting the wrong blog and you can always use it for testing stuff.

How can I back up my WordPress Site using FTP?
1. Log in to your install using an FTP program like Filezilla.
2. Backup your entire WordPress install — you should be doing this regularly anyway! (download all files except wp-content and store as backup)
3. Log into your WordPress install and de-activate all plugins
4. Download the latest version of WordPress
5. Unzip WordPress download file
6. Upload new versions of the wp-admin and wp-includes directories by FTP
7. Upload new versions of root files except wp-config.php by FTP
8. Remove the theme folders from wp-content and then upload wp-content by FTP.

Finally if you are interested in supporting student blogging, please consider signing up to be a mentor during the Student Blogging Challenge. Check out the post to find out more.

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