I had a 4th grade teacher, Matt Rosebrough, ask me for a recommendation on student blogging. He felt the dashboard of WordPress was a bit confusing for his students and would like to have his students email in their posts to a blog. When I investigated the options at WordPress.com for posting by email, I found that feature wasn’t available. What I did find was the mini dashboard, which I think will address his needs and concerns. To post to the class blog, Matt’s students can access their class website and click a link for the mini dashboard. They will enter their WordPress.com usernames and passwords. Then the mini dashboard will appear.
Students will type in a Title for their articles. Then they can type in the content, or paste in the copied article. After clicking the Publish button, students can log out using the Log out tab. Matt will then have to approve the students’ post before they will actually appear on the class blog, since the students will be set up as just contributors to the class blog.
A sidebar widget that I think would be useful on just such a class blog is the Authors widget. This widget displays the authors contributing to the blog. A visitor can click an author to view all his/her posts. I think parents will enjoy using that widget to quickly locate all the articles by their child.
In my Blogging with Students handout you will find the steps to set up a moderated class blog to which all students contribute. There are examples of student blogging formats and suggestions for developing a class blogging policy. It shows you how to use WordPress.com to: create student accounts with student epals email addresses or a teacher gmail alias, use the Mini Dashboard, and require the teacher’s approval before the students’ posts are published.