Saturday, February 10, 2018

Blogger Account Beyond Graduation...

Lately I've seen a few questions in the Blogger Help Forums pertaining to students and teachers concerns upon leaving a school district. Often the "Big Picture" is overlooked when it comes to Blogger and the "Core G Suite for Edu APPS". Blogger is NOT part of the Core Apps offered by G Suite for Education Accounts. Now you're probably asking,"What does this mean to the school user?" It means when you leave a district the Blogger account remains open and isn't automatically deleted when the district account is turned off. This isn't limited to Blogger but all Apps offered by school accounts even non-Google APPS. It is important for both school districts, faculty and students to understand this before using these services.

Why might a student or teacher want to remove their account or set it private? Often a public blog is created with good intentions with the focus upon a academic project. In today's education world it isn't unusual to want to provide an "Authentic Learning Experience" for the students. However before doing this the preliminary steps of netiquette should be introduced at a young age and practiced throughout one's educational career. This may help the student build a postive digital tattoo, and avoid the need to have a former blog taken down. Generally when I see a student asking for an account to be taken down it is due to the topic they chose, inappropriate photos or comments within a post.

I've seen students come into the forum frustrated about being locked out of accounts they would like to set to private or delete. This issue might be avoided if school districts, teachers and students looked at the "Big Picture" before diving in and using accounts such as Blogger. It is important to educate users about "Best Practices" for both using and deploying APPS and programs outside of a school districts control. This may prevent future stress from occuring due to the global imprint left from good intentions.

There are severals ways one may approach this issue:

  1. Before leaving a district set an account to private
  2. Delete an account you may never use again
  3. If possible transfer the account to a private account
Social Media and Blogs may be used as portfolios for seeking future employment. When appropriately maintain a Blogger Account may become a beneficial tool for a students future.

It is my intention to create follow up posts about setting Blogger account to private as well as deleting or transferring accounts.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Linking Text to a Post

Recently in the Blogger help Forum a user asked how to link a Post to Text in another post. After viewing this question I started to think about how a student or teacher may incorporate hyperlinking images and texts within a classroom blog. 
  1. Teacher may want to reference a past post for directions
  2. Student may link to another classmate's post as a reference
  3. A student may write an art critique for a classmates art shared in another post
  4. The teacher or a student may want to share a link for a YouTube channel they created
The beauty adding text and image links is it opens opportunities for sharing information to support the learning.

How to Create a Text Link

  • Sign in to Blogger Dashboard
  • Click Post to Edit
  • Highlight Text
  • Click Link (located in post editor toolbar)
  • Paste URL (Website Link)
  • Click OK
TIPS Obtaining Post Link
  • Sign in to Blogger Dashboard
  • Click Post to Edit
  • Under Post Settings Select Permalink
  • Copy Permalink

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Create an Avatar for Students Blog Profile

Having students create an avatar as an about photo is one way to support using digital citizenship skills.
When working with young students 13 and under it is important to protect their actual identity.
This is where avatars come in handy for supporting both "Digital Citizenship" skills and creativity.

A websites like Androidify unlocks student creativity while designing an animated Android Avatar. 
Once created the Android avatar can be downloaded as an animated gift for future use. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Adding a Calendar Page

A blog is a helpful support which may be used for strengthening a school to home connection. This versatile tool can be used to reinforce both communication and student engagement. One way to use a blog for communication is by embedding a Google Calendar. I view inserting a Google Calendar into a blog page as one of those "No Brainer" Timesaving tricks.

When a Google Calendar is embedded into a website it may be set to deliver synchronous updates. The updating of events could provide students with immediate access to classroom lesson activities. One of the beauties of this function is the educator doesn't need to sign into the Blogger dashboard to make calendar event updates. 

Adding a Google Calendar as a Blog Page

  1. First create a new blog page
  2. Second add a page gadget
    • Allows horizontal or vertical tab navigation
  3. Embed a Google Calendar

Create a New Blog Page

  • Sign into Blogger Dashboard
  • In Listing on Left Select Pages

    • Select New Page Tab

    • Give Page a Title
    • Click  Publish  
      • NOTE: a blank page will be published
    • Click
      • (Brings you back to Blogger Dashboard)

Select or Add Pages Gadget

  • Select Layout from the Listing on the Left

  • Scroll Down to Cross Column (Add a Gadget) or Page List (top) Sections
    • Cross Column or Page List Sections are dependent upon the Blogger Theme 
      • Page List Section already has Pages Gadget built into template
      • Cross Column Section must add a Pages Gadget

  • In Cross Column's Section
    • Click Add a Gadget
    • Select Page's Gadget
  • Checkmark Pages
  • Drag & Drop to Change List Order
  • Click  Save  Button

  • Click  Save Arrangements  Button

Embed a Google Calendar

  • Open Google Calendar
  • Click Dropdown Arrow on Left side of Calendar
  • Select Calendar Settings

  • Scroll Down to Embed this Calendar Sections
  • Copy Embed Code
    • NOTE: make sure the Calendar is shared publicly 
  • Open Blogger Dashboard
  • Select Pages from Listing
  • Click the Calendar Page
  • Select HTML Composter
  • Paste Calendar Code
  • Click  Update  Button

Friday, July 14, 2017

Feature Gadget Lets Teachers Showcase Student's Work

While assisting in the Blogger Help Forums I learned about the "Feature Gadget". I'm grateful to the user who wanted to remove an image from the Feature Gadget. This is when it dawned on me what  a practical tool for teachers to use. The Feature Gadget is a perfect enhancement for a classroom blog. It allows the teacher to showcase a post making it stand out from the others. This is a versatile tool which could be used in many ways.

One practical way to integrate the feature gadget in a classroom blog is to showcase the students ideas and work. The teacher also might use it to have important information for parents standout after future posts are created. Below is list of example ideas I've created for using the feature gadget. If you have a different idea for incorporating the feature gadget into a classroom blog please add it in a comment to the post. This will be helpful to educators throughout the world!

List of Feature Gadget Ideas

  1. Showcase a students artwork
  2. Poetry of the day
  3. Math Challenge Expert
    • Daily Math Challenge
      • Showcase Students ideas for solving problems
  4. Best Illustrator Award
    • Perfect use for a Digital Citizenship Week
    • Coordinate  to start on Digital Learning Day
    • Reinforces skills for respecting copyright laws
  5. Historical Figure Q & A
  6. Kindness Quotes
    • Celebrate Everyday 
      • Use student created kindness quotes

Adding Feature Gadget

  1. Sign into Blogger Dashboard
  2. Select Layout from list on left
  3. Click Add a Gadget
    • Location dependent upon theme
    • Generally found in sidebar
    • May be found in Cross-Column Section
  4. Click + next to Featured Post Gadget
  5. Type Gadget Title 
  6. Decide on Post Design
    • Uncheck or Check dependent upon these choices:
      • Post Title
      • Text Snippet
      • Image
  7. Scroll through Post List to Select Featured Post
  8. Click  Save  Button 
  9. Click Layout  Save Arrangements  Button

Monday, July 03, 2017

Teachers Looking for New Blog Theme???

Towards the end of the Summer and into the Fall Teachers will welcome new students into their newly decorated classrooms. Teachers have you considered your Classroom Blog a "Face Lift" along with a "Brand New Fresh Look"? This may be easily done by using one of the many different themes offered by Blogger. Last Spring the Blogger layout themes grew to a wider selection to choose from. I discovered two of the "Newer" themes really standout as an easy to use and clean refreshing design for a Teacher's classroom blog.

Classroom Blog Themes

  • Contempo lends itself to a simple modern look with a pop-out sidebar. The sidebar hosts the posts archive along with the possibility of using other gadgets one might share within a classroom setting. A teacher might use the sidebar top to add a school or classroom calendar. 

  • Soho is another clean fresh modern look. It works very well with image posts. When landing on the main page a post image will appear before the post text. It provides a very clean categorized look. Easy for students to navigate.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Reading List End of School Year Cleanup

The summer is rolling in and the end of the school year is winding down. It is time to trim the classroom blog reading list you used to follow this years student blogs. Educators may be closing out this passed school year but in essence they're also preparing for the upcoming year. In the Fall there will be "new blogs" by new "Student Authors" for adding to the blog's reading list. Happy Summer Vacation!

How to Delete Reading List Blogs 

You will be surprised how easy it is to delete the blogs one follows for updates from the Blogger Reading list. Just follow these simple steps. It is as easy as 1-2-3!!!
  • Sign into Blogger Dashboard
  • Scroll Down to Reading List
  • Click Pencil icon (next to "Blogs I follow")
  • Under Manage Blogs I'm Following 
    • Click Trash Can icon to Delete a blog 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Text Header: "Sometimes Less is More!"

Today I was thinking upon the old adage, "Less is More". While pondering these words I realized it is perfectly fine to create a blog header with just "Fancy Text Styling" and no image. When this is done the header title is generally easier to read. It is especially attractive to use a Text Header if the blog is heavily laden with visual media. I think this is a good tip to share with students.

Change Header Title
  1. Sign into the Blogger Dashboard
  2. In listing under "View Blog"
    • Select Layout
  3. Scroll to Header Section
    • Lower Right Click EDIT
  4. Pop-out Window Opens
    • Type New Title
    • Click Save Button
  5. Upper Right Corner Click  Save Arrangements  Button
Edit Title Text
This is a visual presentation on how to change text in a blog header

Change Header Font Style
  1. Sign into the Blogger Dashboard
  2. In listing under "View Blog"
    • Select Template
  3. Under "Live on Blog"
    • Click  Customize  Button
  4. In list to Left, Click Advance
  5. Select Blog Title
    • Change Title Font, Size & Color
  6. Upper Right Corner Click  Apply to Blog  Button

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Delete or Not Delete that is the Question...

The classroom blog is finished for the year and you're not sure if the answer is to delete and start with a "Fresh New Classroom Blog". I could probably come up with a million reasons to support both sides when comparing "Why" with "Why Not." This much I will say is you might want to set the blog to private instead of deleting it. This is because all blog deletions eventually become permanent with "No" turning back. Why put yourself in this position after you and the students worked so hard to create the blog?

Setting the blog to private and removing all readers, and authors is one way to archive a blog. I do believe this is a safe way to maintain old records which could possibly be used for some future need. 

Set Blog to Private

  1. Sign into Blogger Dashboard
  2. Click Settings
  3. Scroll Down to Basics
  4. Go to Permissions Section
  5. Next to Blog Readers & Public Click Edit
  6. Change to "Private-Only Blog Author"
  7. Click Save Changes

Delete a Blog

  1. Sign into Blogger Dashboard    
  2. Click Settings
  3. Select Other
  4. Go to Delete Section
  5. Click Delete Blog

NOTE: Before deleting a blog it is best practice to download a copy

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Embed Google Drive PDF It's Tricky...

In the education realm it is helpful to have the ability to embed a PDF resource from Google Drive into a Blogger Post. Teachers may want to use the PDF as a tutorial for students to access or as a writing piece to reflect back on. Embedding a PDF appears to be a challenge for the novice blogger to add to a post. Many times due to frustration a simple text link ends up being added. Today I hope to simplify this process to lessen the challenge for embedding a PDF from Google Drive.

How to Embed a PDF from Google Drive

There are two tricks for being successful with embedding a PDF into a Blogger post. The first trick is to make sure the PDF share settings is set to "Public on the Web" or "Anyone with the Link".  This is followed by the second trick of obtaining the PDF's Embed code, and finally pasting the code into the html editor of a blog post.

First Step PDF Share Settings

  1. Open Google Drive
  2. Click PDF to Highlight
  3. Select Share Icon
  4. In Pop-up Window Click Advance
  5. Under "Who has Access" Select Change
  6. Select "On-Public on the Web" or "On-Anyone with Link"
  7. Click  Save  Button
  8. Click  Done  Button

Second Step Obtain PDF Embed Code

  1. Open Google Drive
  2. Double Click PDF 
  3. Click More Actions Settings (3 vertical dots)
  4. Select "Open in New Window"
  5. Click More Actions Settings in the New Window
  6. Select "Embed Item"
  7. Copy Embed Code 

Third Step Paste Embed Code Into html Post Editor

  1. Sign into Blogger Dashboard
  2. Click  New Post  Button
  3. Select HTML Button
  4. Paste PDF Embed Code
  5. Click Publish 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Adding Readers to Edu Blog

When a teacher or student creates a blog there are many factors which one may need to be considered. Some of the decisions are based upon the student's age, along with the school districts acceptable usage policy. It is in the best interest of an educator to be mindful of CIPA, COPPA, FERPA along with using good digital citizenship skills when integrating technology. Keeping all the above mention in mind does a student or teacher always want the public to view their blogs?

Depending upon the above factors mentioned some blogs may be kept private limiting the viewing of the blog contents to selected readers. Who might the blog readers be? A teacher may decide to limit a blog to students, parents, other teacher and their classrooms. One way a teacher or even a student can do this is by inviting other people as readers. A reader will need to sign into their account to access the blog. This helps to support a secure safe climate where students and parents are protected from the comments of unknown outsiders. I totally agree with the authenticity of a global community but also understand in some instances it is okay to restrict the participation to a limited audience.

How to Add Blog Readers

  1. Sign into Blogger Dashboard
  2. In List on Left Click Settings
  3. Scroll Down to Permissions Section
  4. On Blog Readers Line Click Edit to Left of Public
  5. Select Private Only These Readers
  6. Add Readers Email Addresses or Choose from Contact List
  7. Click Save Changes

The readers will must accept the email invitation to participate as a blog reader.