WordPress – How to set up your class blog

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OK folks, as promised here is the guide to how to set up your class blog. I won’t be hitting all the ins and outs of WordPress.com, just the basics on how to create a blog, add your students, and how to allow them or others to comment on the blog. It’ll be quick with loads of pictures, and if I have the energy (and I think I will) I’ll add a quick video. So read on past the break to get all the goodness.

Before we begin, know that WordPress.com and wordpress.org are different. WordPress.org will offer you the ability to download and load the WordPress software on a server. This tutorial is about how to set up a WordPress.com blog, which is hosted on WordPress.com’s servers. So let’s begin.

Step 1 – Signing up and creating the blog

Head on over to WordPress.com and sign up. Click “Sign up now” and we’ve started.

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On the next page you will be asked to create a blog address. This can be changed if it needs to be, but we will worry about that later. Just know that this is not set in stone.

You will also be asked to create a username, password, and an e-mail. WordPress.com only uses your e-mail for updates about your blog or if you forget your password. They do not send any junk mail or spam your way.

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Click sign up and a new window will ask you to check your e-mail to complete registration. When you get to your e-mail (it should be almost instantaneous), click on the link and it will take you to this page to let you know you can now access your account.

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So go ahead and sign up in the top left hand corner.

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Once that is done, you get to see one of the perks of blogging with WordPress.com. At the top of the page you will see a new menu bar. As long as you are logged into WordPress.com this men will be there. Even if you are visiting other blogs it will still be there, giving you instant access back to your own blog(s). Pretty handy eh?

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To get to your blog, just click on My Blog, select Dashboard and it will take you to your Dashboard. The Dashboard can be a little daunting the first time you lay your eyes onto it, but worry not. I will take you through some of the basics.

Step 2 – Picking a theme

WordPress.com gives you over 100 different themes to chose from. Not all themes are equal. There are different layouts, menus, and some other features that can be customized.

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You can even preview a theme to get a good idea of what it will look like if you activate it. Just another feature of WordPress.com. So find what you like and run with it.

Step 3 – How to post a blog

Now that the blog exists and you have a cool theme, it is time to start producing some content and getting that onto the blog. To start adding content, you need to click on Posts on the Dashboard.

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This will take you to the posts area. Here you can see all your posts, who wrote it, and the categories. It is very handy. You can also edit posts that have been published from here as well.

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So click Add New and start typing away in the box. You will find that you have lots of formatting options such as bullet points, different justifications, and more. If you click on this last button, this will give you even more formatting options. Cool huh. Also from here you can add images, polls, and videos from certain sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. You may also notice that there is an HTML tab. You can actually go into and tweek the HTML which can be handy if you know what you’re doing. If not, don’t worry about it.

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It is important to know that not everything can put into WordPress.com. For example, if you would like to share a Prezi you cannot insert the embed code and have it show up in your post.

Step 4 – Adding categories for your students

We are almost ready for your students to join the blog. First we need to add categories of their names, so the blog is a little easier to navigate for those who come to visit. Once this is done you will see what I mean. In the Posts section on the Dashboard you will see Categories as an option. Select it.

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From here you can add the students name in the category section and click Add New Category at the bottom. If you have multiple classes, you can create a Parent category that will further organize your students into their respective classes. When students add a post, there is a category section to chose from next to their posts. This will make organizing the blog easier.

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Now we must display these categories on the blog. To do this go back to Appearance.

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Select Widgets and then you will see a bunch of Widgets that you can add to your blog. Take some time to investigate these. There are some cool ones.

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Now, depending on your theme the Categories widget may already be there. Either way it always good to check. There is no save button here it will save all changes instantly. Now we are ready for our students to sign up and join the blog.

Step 5 – Adding students to the blog

There are a couple of ways to do this. WordPress.com has an invite feature, but in my experience this only seems to work about 60% of the time. There is a more direct way that I think works much better than the Invite feature. Basically all the students sign up for WordPress.com and then you add them manually.

Have the students go to WordPress.com and they will follow nearly the same steps that you did. The one exception is that they will not create their own blog. They will only “Sign up for just a username.” This will take away the Blog Address option and allow them to fill in the rest of the info: username, password, and e-mail.

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Once all the students have created their WordPress.com account, they need to come to you and tell them their e-mail address that associated with their WordPress.com account.

You will need to access your Dashboard and select Users (it’s near the bottom). The User page will list all the people associated with the blog and at the bottom it will allow you to add users to the blog.

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Before you add the user you must define what their roles are.

  • Contributor – Can write posts, but cannot publish them. The Administrator must publish them (it will show up as Pending on the Post page).
  • Administrator – Just what you think. This person can do whatever they want to any post, and the blog itself.
  • Editor – This person can access any post, edit it, and do a lot of what an administrator can do, but an Editor cannot change the theme, get rid of Users, or delete the blog.
  • Author – This role can publish and edit their own posts. This is the role I have all my students set at.

That is about it. If you have questions feel free to pass them on. Also, WordPress.com has a very helpful support section which is found here: http://en.support.wordpress.com. There is also a rich and active forum where you can ask or search for your questions and answers. You can access the support section here: http://en.forums.wordpress.com/.

Good luck and happy blogging!

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About Patrick Cauley

I teach middle school technology and love to play around with tech and teach students and colleagues alike. You can read my blog at www.itbabble.com
This entry was posted in Review, Tech Integration, tutorial and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to WordPress – How to set up your class blog

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  2. Tracy Mulholland says:

    Is there an easy way to add a large number of students?

    • I’ve been down this road Tracy and let me tell you, there is no easy way to do this. You may want to check out kidblog.org which lets you create the students’ login through an easy to use spreadsheet (kidblog.org will give it to you). Also Kidblog.org is built upon wordpress.org so if you’re familiar with wordpress you will have no issues with kidblog.org.

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  7. mkoetke says:

    Thanks for these directions! Very helpful and clear.
    🙂 Michelle

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