Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 2-Wordpress



Wordpress.com is blog hosting website.  There is also a partner website-Wordpress.org that will allow you to download the program.  However, it is very detailed and heavy in the html language.  For beginners and users that do not want to worry with the HTML settings--I highly suggest Wordpress.com.  If you can type an email-you can blog with this site.  

Wordpress.com even offers many tutorials that will help you get started with the basics.
Wordpress.com tutorials
Here is a list of many more helpful tutorials:
Dashboard explained


This summer I spent some time trying to figure out how to marry 21st century skills, collaboration, communication, and organization for my classes. I wanted something that would be simple to use for time management purposes--but would look professional and be user friendly for my students. I also wanted to model writing for my students.  I spent many hours reading blogs last year and decided that would be the perfect outlet for me to use this year. 

Here is my blog:
My blog-mrsyatesclass.wordpress.com
I try to blog something everyday for my students.  Somedays it is very basic in nature--just a quick review of what we accomplished in the class and any materials the students might need to reference.  Others days it is more reflective in nature.  These days are my favorite because it forces me to take a moment to see what worked and what didn't work and why.  I try to feature pictures of my students as well. (They LOVE catching themselves on the blog.) Writing a post is very easy.  If you can type and email-you can type a blog post.

My students are trained to check the blog daily.  If they have any questions--they know they need to go to the blog first.  They are also  learning to ask questions of each other and and me via the commenting feature.  It is nice to see them taking care of each other.

My goal is to have each of my students create their own blog at the start of 2nd semester. During November students will be taking turns "guest blogging" on my blog.

I asked them to tell me their thoughts about the blog.  Here are some of their comments:

How has having the blog helped you?
  • It has helped me a lot. I have needed help before and I have forgot things about projects and it has given me information I have needed.
  • I love using the blog because if I forget what we talked about in class it is always on the blog.
  • The blog has helped me so much this year. Whenever I don't understand an assignment, I go to the blog and there are ALWAYS extra instructions and tips.
  • The blog has helped me because when I am absent or confused I can access the blog wherever I am.
  • The blog has helped me Tremendously. It has helped me because if I am out sick I just cheek the blog and all my assignments are right there at my fingertips! When i get back to school I am all mostly caught up!
  • The blog is always a great help to me. It's a neat way to get resources for class, and to connect the classes in a way.
  • The blog is useful for downloading resources such as handouts. Also, it is great to know what we did the other day if we were not here without even mentioning it to the teacher. We can even submit assignments from home!
  • The blog has helped in unthinkable ways. It's fantastic when your sick or absent, you can go on the blog and finish you work and not be a day behind. It is a whole lot easier to do assignments . When Mrs. Yates has a sub we get a lot done and really enjoy those days where I can work by myself.

Why is blogging important?
  • Blogging is important because it can easily spread information through a group of people or just one person. You can also limit who sees the information.
  • Blogging is important because it is always available and constantly up to date.
  • Blogging is important because it lets the teacher and students communicate. It also lets the parents see what is going on in the classroom.
  • Blogging helps us know what's going on in our daily lives. Using a blog for school is helpful, because we can easily see if we had any assignments on there. The comment section allows us to easily access other students or our teacher is it is needed.

 How does the ability to comment help you with the blog?
  • Commenting has helped me because if I have a question, I can just comment and Mrs. Yates will reply. It is also helpful because other students can see my comment so that Mrs. Yates does not get the same question a million times.
  • The ability to comment has helped me to earn a pride paw, and get me interacting with more of my classmates.
  • If I have a direct question and I comment it, then my teacher or another student has the ability to help with a possible solution.
  • The ability to comment has helped me with the blog because anytime I have a question or concern on any assignment or blog that has been posted I can just comment and ask that question, usually i get a response by Mrs. Yates or another student within that hour.
  • If I have questions or concerns, I can comment on the blog and Mrs. Yates gets back to me within the hour. If their is a problem on the blog I can leave a comment and it gets fixed lighting fast. It also allows me to share my opinions about the day and the class.


Challenge:
Check out some different blogs.  How do you think blogging will help with your instruction? Will it be a means for personal reflection? A way to communicate with students & parents? A collaborative project from your PLC/team? (Please reflect below.)

Some blogs worth viewing-




50 comments:

  1. I've spent many hours online viewing various 4th grade teacher web pages, but haven't found any 4th grade classroom blogs. Many of my students do not have access to computers at home, so I could reach some of my students, but not all of them. I envision blogging as an excellent tool to communicate with parents that have computer access!

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    1. My son's pre-school teacher has a classroom blog that she uses daily to communicate with parents. I love it as a parent, even though the kids do not use it directly, the educational value and ease of mind to the parents are invaluable!

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  2. I love the idea of being able to self-reflect and let the students know: 1. What I wanted to have happen in the class, 2. What actually took place, 3. both what worked and didn't....may other things.

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  3. I used blogging as a class project for an English 11 class last year. We were reading "A Long Walk to Water" and each day we would collaboratively write chapter summaries (it was a very small class). It was a big help for students that were absent frequently and had computer/internet access outside of school. They could read the chapter summaries so they still had an idea of what was happening in the story when they came back. We used Blogger though instead of WordPress since I already had an account.

    Another cool project one could do is something a college teacher of mine had us do one class. We read a play, then created a blog as a character from that play. It was like doing a character analysis, but in a different genre/style.

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  4. I think blogging is a great way to communicate between teachers and students, students and students, and parents and teachers. I think especially for middle school and high school students, it offers some security for expressing oneself, as often times, these students do not like to single themselves out in the classroom. I also think requiring a blog post from students could be used as a type of formative assessment for the teacher to guide the next day's instruction.

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  5. I've been blogging for several years now. I began blogging with my students as a way to extend the conversations we were having in class. If you start blogging with students, I have a few recommendations. First, post your expectations and norms on the blog in the same way you would post them in your room. Second, keep the content changing to encourage students to check in often. Third, give students a voice in how the blog is used and what it includes. You can check out one of my old classroom blogs here: http://wilhelmus12ap.blogspot.com/

    Now I have a combination reflection/resource sharing blog where I explore ideas around education and ed tech. I really value my opportunities to clarify my thinking through writing on my blog. Blogging helps me grow as an educator and connect to others. My current blog is here: http://playgroundadvocate.blogspot.com/

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  6. I really like the idea of using a blog as a vehicle for a character analysis. We already use the blog feature on our Weebly website to follow social justice issues. I could see this type of blog providing a more informal stage for conversations among our students.

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  7. One blog I have used with elementary students is KidBlog.org. You can go in an create a class, give your students log-ins without email, and post discussions for a good basic training on how to blog. I find that early on, they need to learn digital citizenship and have a good understanding that whatever they write can be seen by others, and they have to be taught to comment appropriately, otherwise some do not automatically know that! I've also used the blog feature on my Weebly site to record my teaching experiences using technology in the music room. Blogs I find most useful are ones that give information, but don't ramble, so that is how I try to approach blogging myself!

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  8. I have been reading blogs casually for years. One of my former students has become a fairly accomplished blogger, and I read her stuff consistently (http://brilliantmediocrity.blogspot.com) -- free plug, Ash!

    I'm excited by the possibility of pointing my students to some of the exciting things going on in physics right now. Another of my former students was recently listed as a co-author on a paper from CERN, from the team that is involved in Higgs boson research -- now THAT would be a jumping-off point for conversation in class.

    I've also found over the years that students like to know about the things that interest me other than what I teach. So I might have them check out the gracefulwomanwarrior blog, by the daughter of a famous sf author who is struggling with breast cancer; Redbird Nation, to share my love of the St. Louis baseball team; or even theatre blogs or gaming blogs (carefully selected for appropriateness).

    One reservation I have is that it seems most of the major blogging sites are currently blocked by our filtering software.

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  9. I have always wanted to look more into starting a blog in my class. I used them a number of times as a student during my masters program. I teach Human Body Systems and they have a blog for teachers on the PLTW website which is just open for questions to be asked then answered by other teachers. I think it would help my students to be able to post questions about assignments so they could all work together. Also, our SMART goal this year is to work on informational text. I would love to use this for porting articles and allowing the students to thinking critically and blog their responses.

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  10. I've enjoyed the eLearning book club blog sponsored by the IDOE. Although I'm mostly a reader and not much of a contributor yet. My goal is to start contributing more.

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  11. I have been following Mrs. Yates' blog since the start of school. She and I have had the conversation of "How could I use this in my classroom?" I think it's a great idea. If anyone has suggestions of what I could use it for in high school math- please share. And a nother question I have is do kids know how to blog? Upload to it, etc?

    On a personal level, I have friends who blog daily so family members elsewhere can know what they did that day or let the little ones tell stories to Grandma on it. The ones I look at of old friends are super cute and sweet!
    In my dream world of education, I would have the time to blog ideas for classroom projects and activities. Teachers could even discuss discipline strategies or practices. Really the ideas are endless- if only time was endless to accomplish my to do list each day.

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  12. While I do not have a blog, I know many people who do--for educational purposes and for personal sharing. I find them to be an amazing way to share information and "meet" people who are like-minded. I think a teacher blog could be a great way to inform parents about what is happening in the classroom, since they do not have user names and access to the same sites that their students can access.

    I've also seen some great blogs that list useful websites with descriptions, much like your browser's bookmarks. It is more powerful because you'd be able to access from anywhere, not just a certain computer.

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  13. With my efforts in using the flipped classroom model, I started blogging as a means of reflection and recording thoughts. It is nice to have to think through things as you put them into words. Whether it is concerns, problems, successes, surprises... whatever it may be, it is helpful to express what is going on and to reflect on it.

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  14. OK, I haven't started blogging yet but think I will start this school year. I use to use angel to communicate with my students via my absence or theirs, but now need to explore the mybigcampus blogging tools. One thing that can be overwhelming is using too many different sites when one site will accomplish what I need. Hopefully the big campus site will let me achieve my needed goals. I want to use blogging for daily class warm-ups or current events. Wondering.... can you attach an internet link to a blog?

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    1. Jane,
      Depending on the blog you choose, you can attach just about any digital format to it. The comment spaces we are using on this blog for example are plain text only. Which means among other things that you cannot attach links that function when you click on them. However, you can give the address (URL) of a website and it can be copied and pasted into a browser for others to see, like in this example: www.evscicats.com

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  15. I can see how we can tie yesterday's post with this post. Just another reason why I love My Big Campus because it has that blogging feature. Just another reason why MBC is a one-stop-shop for the classroom.

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  16. I love the idea of blogging and finally got around to creating one this year. I haven't really done much with it b/c I thought it would take up too much time and I wouldn't be able to keep up with it. However, I think I need to change my paradigm. Rather than viewing it as an extra thing to do, I need to use it like many of you... use it not only as a reflection tool but as a way to collaborate with students and get them to collaborate with others.

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  17. I started a blog this year and as many of you, I have found it taking up time, I feel I don't have. I am rethinking this because I have been searching all year for a way to communicate with students what the daily lesson plans are. I just haven't found a way that I like. After viewing Mrs. Yates blog, I think this is it.

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  18. I never even thought about using a blog to cut down on confusion on class activities. So many times students figure out easier ways or cooler ways to maneuver websites we are using, like toondoo.com; what an excellent way to let them collaborate.

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    1. @mschauss,
      Thanks again for your participation in the challenge! I would like to remind you that for our tracking purposes it is important to know who you are. We have asked that all blog participants use their full first and last name as their "display name." We have given directions on how to change your display name on the 10/26 2012 blog post.

      Thanks!

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  19. I think it would be a nice way to reflect on lessons or to have students do reflection. I enjoy getting ideas from other teacher blogs. This could be a way to share my ideas and what is happening in my room with other colleagues and parents.

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  20. I like to know what's working and what's not. Blogs are a great way to find out. I like having blog capability on MBC. It's also a great way for students to get help from each other by reading their blogs.

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  21. I enjoy reading blogs written by colleagues and students. I do not have a blog myself, but can see the benefits to my students. It would give my students an opportunity to ask questions and sign up for lessons. I believe a blog for my colleagues to read would be a good way to start. I plan on starting with the blog on MBC.

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  22. I like the idea of posting homework and classwork on a blog. I like that better than My Big Campus because I can bold, underline, and italicize, use accents, bullet points, etc. Also, I like the fact that parents can have access to a blog whereas right now, parents do not have access to My Big Campus or Angel unless they have their student password. Also, some blogs (like Blogger) have smart phone apps that are accessible from phones, iPads, etc. just like My Big Campus.

    I also like the idea of using a blog for PLC work. Instead of having to email meeting minutes to administrators, they could just have access to the blog. Blogs can also be edited by more than one person which makes it a great collaboration tool.

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  23. So far, I have been a blog reader, not writer. I follow several educational and non-education related bloggers including several on the list posted above. I can see how this would be one more tool to communicate with parents and students. I am a high school math teacher and wonder how this could be used effectively in this subject area.
    Wish the PLCs in my school were structured in a way that something like this could be used.

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  24. Great post, Kara! This gave me some great ideas for my site. I admit that I haven't utilized the blog feature of my Weebly, but now I have some direction thanks to your ideas!
    I will start posting responses to questions I get from parents; for example, student have their first Book-It reading calendars due this Thursday, and I've had some emails from parents, asking about procedures for turning them in.
    Thanks again for all the fantastic ideas!!


    P.S. We sure miss you this year at Oak Hill, but glad you get to spend your day with kiddos!

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  25. I have been wanting to try blogging with my students. I think it would be a great opportunity to teach them how to journal online.

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  26. I've been looking at starting a classroom blog for a few months now. I just haven't been brave enough to take the plunge! I think it has to be some big, fancy, beautiful thing! Almost everyone of my parents has internet access. I already send out an electronic copy of my weekly newsletter. I like the idea of using a blog to get information out because it can be more interactive. If a parent has a question, he/she could put it on the blog. Several others might have the same question!

    I would also love to have interactions with the kids on a blog. It's like a electronic response journal. Any writing/reading for the elementary kids is good practice! I'd love to model the correct way to write when typing - not just in text language!

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  27. I think it's great that teachers like Kara are blogging with their students. Before Angel and MBC, I also kept a blog with my students to deliver content, post the agenda, and allow for them to contribute meaningfully to discussion in the comments. I think one of the most difficult elements of blogging isn't finding the right design or setting it up--it's finding the time to devote to posting daily, weekly, or otherwise. I have nothing but respect for those who are able to maintain it on a regular basis. I could see using a blog for many of the same ways I use discussion boards in MBC--posing a question, reflecting on a topic, even commenting on a social phenomenon, like a television show. Some of my most popular posts when I blogged were the ones where I commented on American Idol episodes. Students were engaged, writing, analyzing. Still meeting the standards, right?

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  28. I don't currently have a blog, but I can see how beneficial it would be in corresponding with colleagues, students and parents.

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  29. I am not blogging yet, but I can see it being a great communication tool between myself, students and parents. Many parents do not realize that in middle school FACS we are covering topics such as financial literacy, food science, etc. Keeping a blog could keep them up to date. I also see how beneficial it could be for those students who are absent, allowing them to keep up with what is going on in class.
    I too have followed Kara's blog off and on this year, I think it is great the positive feedback she is getting from her students.
    As a parent, I would love for my kids' elem teachers to keep a blog of what is going on in their classrooms :-)

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  30. Today, looking at the blogs, made me think from more of a parent perspective. I absolutely love to see teachers having the relationship with their students that a blog offers. It is a great way to communicate with students on the level that they are using. Not to mention, how much I would appreciate the communication and knowledge I could gain as a parent about what my child is learning.

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  31. I am so excited that I created a blog for my sixth graders today!! loriemansker@wordpress.com

    I plan to use it to conduct comversations with the class about books we are reading. I think this will really get them to think about what they think!!

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    1. Looks like it's not live yet,... Looking forward to seeing what you do with it!!!

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  32. I bolg as part of my Masters classes. We are required to make one orignal post as well as two replies each week. On our original post we have to cite information from an outside reading other than what we have read in class. I find myself reading and learning more in the articles I find for my citatation than I do for my assignmend readings. I really enjoy the blog because of all the great ideas I learn from them. I also enjoy reading the responses to my post. I get bummed when no one responds. This is our first year that we are departmentalized at our school. I can see a blog being a great way to relay information that I may have forgotten to tesll one group. I also could see a blog being a great way to answer all questions in a one stop shop and not having to answer the same question 77 times. I agree that there are often so many resources out there that they can become very overwhelming. I like that MBC has this feature. When and if we become one to one or have the ability to have access to one to one that I can use it for a classroom blog.

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    1. Wanted to make sure that your comment received a reply :) The MBC blog feature is functional, but basic. I do want to point out that you do not need to be 1:1 to use MBC effectively in a classroom, Check out Bob's Blog post from yesterday in MBC on using MBC without enough devices... (Note: Copy and paste the link into a new browser tab.)

      http://www.mybigcampus.com/blog/bob-campuss-blog/not-enough-devices-no-internet-connection-no-problem---116976

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  33. I have not created a blog for my students yet, but I have thought about the idea many times. I feel that it is a way for students and parents tot know what is going on in the classroom and to ask questions. I have looked at many different blog site and even tried a few that did not quite work for me. After looking at Wordpress, I think that it is something I could try with my students.

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  34. I am going to blog on Mybigcampus. So many sites to use it is confusing.

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  35. I have had students create blogs as a collaborative effort for a project. It is great because they all have access to it from any device anywhere, anytime. I could also see a blog as a great way to keep parents informed on classroom happenings.

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  36. I tried to get a blog going early last year for my 7th grade students to use, but it did not turn out as well as I thought it would. After reading this post I think I would like to try it again. I really like how you use it in your classroom as a place to post a reflection and other information about the days lessons for the kids to go back to if they have questions or forget some information.

    With some more planning I could definately see myself using it in the same manner. I am usually get one to two emails from students after school has ended because they have forgotten how to access something or left they project info sheets in their lockers. This would be the perfect remedy for that. I would like to really get a blog similar to yours set up for my students to use. Great post!

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  37. Our school lost team plan this year and it has limited the amount of time we can as a grade level communicate what our students are having difficulty with. A blog might be one way for me to communicate problem areas I am having when teaching and read other peoples blogs to see if they are having similar problems with the same group.

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  38. I use Blogger to post specifically for my research project. It is a great tool for loading everything the students will need. I create a calendar and then fill it with links, due dates, and assignments students can download right there! It makes the process of providing them information much easier and it also allows them to work at their own pace, knowing what is coming!

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  39. I assign 2 students a week as my reporters. They keep a record of what we do in class in a book. On Friday, they blog about what we did for the week on my webpage. They love it!

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  40. I am extremely impressed with Kara's blog. It inspires me to create a blog for my kids. Missy Feller mentioned that it is difficult to keep up with the daily posts, and it is a concern for me. I worry that I create a blog and share it with parents and then fail to keep it updated.

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  41. Kara, I have really enjoyed following your blog this year. I am so impressed with how you manage to incorporate your skill building with technology so it is an integrated process. It is not always easy to find the right tool to meet the job you are looking for, but I think you have done a great job of doing just that. It is interesting to see how you have used the conversational tone to make it seem like you are always "talking" to your students or readers. I am looking forward to seeing all of the other ways you will use technology this year!

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  42. I think that a blog could be used in a couple of ways just off the top. A school blog could be created to illicit a response from the students on certain issues. You could list a question like "what you like to see offered as rewards for our PBIS program?" I also like the idea that was mentioned earlier about teaching students to journal using a blogging program. I was wondering how it works as far as privacy? It would also be a great opportunity to teach digital citizenship and being responsible about what is posted online.

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  43. I saw on twitter a chemistry teacher has a blog similar to yours - I think it is a great idea. Every day at the end of the day she posts a picture and something about what they did that day. I think I'd enjoy doing this, and I really like your idea of guest student writers next semester. I've also learned about the hashtag #comments4kids on twitter, and think that is a great way to give students a real, nationwide audience for their blogs.

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  44. I have been using blogger for my classroom communications, but I'm inspired to give wordpress a whirl. Most of my posts are an expanded daily agenda. This goes up on the Promethean board as class begins, so that students can get to work on the bellringer asap. If we are doing a whole class task, all the links are included to keep class moving along. Some of my students have also created blogs to post thier work on rather than the usual poster or powerpoint.

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  45. I use wordpress!!! I use one blog for all of my classes, which is neat because students can see what others are up to. It is easy, and I really appreciate that students don't need an account to comment. Least steps to post of any of the blogging sites I trialed. And much prettier with more design options than many. No complaints.

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