Starting a brand new blog is easier than you think, and designing it isn’t that hard either especially if you purchase a Georgia Lou Studios template. For today’s post though, we’ll keep it completely free! I will walk through how to design a blog that you’ll be proud of.
Choosing Your Classroom Blog Site
The first step to creating a classroom blog is choosing your blog name and URL For Blogger, simply log into your gmail account and go to www.blogger.com. Once there, you’ll select “New Blog”, fill in what you’d like the title to be, and type in as few characters as possible the URL. To keep it free, it has to end with blogspot.com, and for my sample blog, I chose a longer address just because I knew it wouldn’t be taken. Here’s what I ended up with, and you can visit it to see the final design:
Privacy Settings for a Classroom Blog
Posts and Comments: Change Who Can Comment to “Members of this Blog”
Picking a Theme and Customizing
Themes and Layouts
With Blogger, you have nine different blog themes to choose from and within each theme, you have a variety of color schemes. For the example blog I’m showing, I chose the Simple Theme with the white background. It’s easy to customize it which I’m going to walk through. You can also purchase a template from Georgia Lou Studios. Geogia Lou gives step by step instructions for how to install their templates. Their designs look very nice and can be customized too.
You’ll see five options under customize: theme, background, adjust width, layout, and advanced. We selected our theme, and the background is white. For the width, you want your entire blog to be 1000 pixels wide and the sidebar to be 300 pixels. This is important because in blogger, the extra large image can be as wide as 640 pixels, and if your post width is too narrow, the image will spill over into the sidebar which looks terrible.
The next step is to choose your layout. I chose the following options for the body and footer layout which is a typical design.
Color Schemes and Fonts
The last step to customizing comes in the advanced tab. It is in this location where you’ll select your fonts and accent colors. For each, you’ll go down the list and choose what you want. There are a few things I’ve learned (after my DIY blog, and three redesigns), and that is keep things simple and consistent. You want your blog to be easy to read, and therefore, you want to choose clean looking fonts at a size that isn’t hard on the eyes. You also want a color scheme that coordinates well too. One tip in selecting a color scheme is to go to Pinterest and search Design Seeds. You’ll find a plethora of options and can choose a collection that appeals to you. With Mrs. Anderson’s blog, I chose the color scheme to the right, and I used the chrome extension, ColorPick Eyedropper to get the color numbers in this palette. For fonts, I chose Nobile as the text font and Oswald as my title font. With text color, I chose black because it’s easiest to read. For the gadget labels, you might choose white with a dark colored background or black with a light colored background.
Modifying the Layout
Adding a Header
To really make a blog your own, you have to create a blog header that adds style. I do my images in Powerpoint, but you can also use Picmonkey or Canva. For the blog header, I made the slide size 20 x 6.5, and I used KG fonts (The Fighter, Sorry Not Sorry Chub, and Part of Me (tag line).
Menu Bar Set Up
In addition to the image gadget, I added in the follow by email (parent may like that), search the blog, labels, and popular posts. I set the popular post to 3 and “last 30 days”. Remember from the last blog post that you want to limit the number of labels showing to less than 20. To limit them, click selected labels and then choose the main categories you want on the blog (math, science, social studies, reading, writing, spelling, etc). You can display them in a list or in a cloud, and I would display them in alphabetical order. For the title, you can change the words from labels to Post by Topic.
Well, we’ve reached the end of line on desigin, and if you’re interested in learning a little more, here are the links to the other posts I’ve done on blogging. If you are blogging with your students, you may want to share the links, use them for modeling, or review them to form your key teaching points. I would begin with a classroom blog first and then branch out to individual blogs later on.
If you have questions, feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to help you out. Good luck on this great adventure.