My last 2 posts have talked about why students should blog and how to get them started. In my last “blog-blog” I will share with you my 2 favorite sites to use with your students when blogging. Both of them have their advantages…hopefully I will make those advantages (at least from my perspective) a bit more clear.
I will start by saying that I use Blogger for a personal blog and WordPress for my professional blog. I have been very happy with both. They have been pretty easy to use and have done more than what I have asked of them. I just don’t feel they are the best options when you are looking to include student pages in the process.
Before looking at each individual option, note that both of these sites are free with upgrade possibilities. They also both have very clean, functional apps that make posting to a blog even a bit more enticing, in my opinion.
KidBlog is new to me. I had a teacher (thanks @byockey) that was interested in having her students blog and approached me about KidBlog. I had to admit I didn’t know anything…but I quickly jumped in to learn. I found a very simple, straight-forward site that allows you to blog with your students. You can have up to 40 students in each class and create a blog page for each of them…for FREE! It doesn’t end there. You can create multiple classes, then have 40 students under each class.
Allowing each of your students their own page gives them freedom to make choices on layout and content. Having their account set up under your administrator account still allows you control over what is published. It is a win-win situation.
From what I can tell, KidBlog allows only your blog page. You are not able to add any additional static pages to your site. You also are limited in the amount of design options you have. Depending on your needs, these can actually be great advantages. Your students only have one page…one focus. More time can be spent on their content rather than the design. Posting is straight forward…it reminds me of WordPress. You have the ability to add images and video, along with a few other options.
I have created a sample KidBlog site…KidBlog: A Closer Look. On this site I have posted a few times showing some of the different options you have available. Take a look so you can get a feel.
I have to admit…this one is my favorite! Weebly takes the simplicity aspect that KidBlog has and builds on it. It is a much more robust option. You gain more control over the look and feel of the blog but don’t really feel like it is any more complicated. You are able to add static pages, and even more blog pages, to the site as well. They use “blocks” that allow you to add content where you want it and build a very eye-appealing website. If you are looking to get yourself and the students more involved in the design aspect, or if you just have more to share, this will be a wise choice for you.
Weebly has 2 avenues to go down, Weebly and Weebly for Education. Even if you get started on the regular Weebly account it is quick and painless to transfer it to an educational account. The advantage to an educational account is it allows you to add up to 40 students for free. Those students are allowed to build their own site, once again under your administrative account. They have the freedom to be creative and call it their own. You have the ability to control what it published. Just like KidBlog…a win-win.
I mentioned building with “blocks” earlier. Weebly features a drag and drop concept that allows you to drag a content block and drop it on the page where you want it. There are a wide variety of block options available to choose from.
I have created a Weebly sample site as well: Weebly…A Closer Look. This once again will give you a chance to see what Weebly is capable of. There are 2 static pages and 1 blog page created. On those pages I have featured many of your block options. Take the tour…see how it looks.
On my team’s/district’s iCafe Website, in the resources section, cheat sheets have been created and posted for KidBlog, Weebly, and Blogger. These cheat sheets walk you through the processes of setting up your account, design, and posting to your site. Some settings options are also included. They are available to download and use as you please. We only ask that you give credit for the creation. Click here to visit the page.
While you are there, you should check out and bookmark the entire Resources Section. There is a lot of valuable material at your fingertips for downloading…all free!