The Value of Efficiency with Blogger

If you're a teacher looking for a quick way to set up a website that can serve as a base for discussions, showcase student writing, enable students to comment on each others' writing, enable video and image incorporation, etc., etc., you don't necessarily have to use Edmodo or other LMS platforms. I have been using Edmodo for quite some time, but I find that I run into its limitations more often than I'd like. For one thing, Edmodo can't handle threaded discussions. While students can reply to a post, no student can reply to a reply. As a workaround, I've had students have one long linear conversation, using @student name to reference earlier replies, but the result is that students often have to scroll for fairly absurd amounts of time to get to where they want to go. Another thing I don't like about Edmodo is that I cannot add links or pages to feature static information I need to feature for my class. So for years, I've turned to Blogger. The fastest way to set up a blogger account to feature student work is to invite students to your blog and then have each student  label (Blogger's tag feature) each and every post they ever make with his or her name. Then go to Layout and make sure you add a gadget for labels to show up on the main blog page. As a result, you'll get a neat list of student names. Click on a student and the blog instantly features only that particular student's posts. This is a simple, elegant solution for not just a class page, but for projects of limited length. Ideal for a unit. For example, right now, my juniors are using a blog I created just for their study of The Great Gatsby. I have pages for video, historical context, etc. We are also using it for an online Socratic Seminar (something I've written about here on this blog before). Finally, students use it to complete reading notes. The publishing aspect of the blog really pushes students to up their game re: effort and quality control. And of course, Blogger is free.

Even though Blogger has fairly robust features that remove it from search engines and only allow invited authors to contribute, I still sometimes wish for a bit more security. Recently, I stumbled across this great breakdown of how to make a Blogger blog password protected. Here it is.

Happy Blogging.

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