Here are five “advance assignments” that will help you come to our homeschool co-op class ready to jump right into blogging.
Even though the assignments are addressed to you as the student, most of them should be done together with your parents.
We have three whole weeks until class starts, so you have plenty of time to do these assignments. Please complete all five before our first class.
[P.S.: If you live too far away to join our homeschool co-op, you can still “take” my class with the free Homeschool Blogging Correspondence Course. Details will follow — but get started now with these advance assignments!]
Assignment #1: Talk About Internet Safety
If you are new to the internet, read Kim Komando’s 10 Commandments for Kids Online. The most important thing to remember for blogging is that personally identifying information is NOT ALLOWED: no full names, no addresses, no phone numbers or email addresses, not even the name of your home town – and don’t share your friends’ information, either!
Once you know the basics of internet safety, then you and your parents have two decisions to make:
- Will you use your parents’ email or get a separate account?
Most of the information about your blog will be sent to you by email, so this needs to be an account that is checked frequently. For Kitten, I set up a separate account and then have my email program check it automatically whenever I check my own mail. If she has a message, I can let her know.
- Will you moderate comments?
All bloggers love to get comments, and normally you don’t want to do anything to discourage someone from commenting. I suggest that you DO NOT moderate comments, but just keep a watch on your email notifications. Nasty comments are very rare, but if any of them do come through, you can delete them right away. Some parents prefer to keep a tighter control on their students’ blogs, however, so the decision belongs to you and your parents.
[Note: Whatever you decide, it is easy to change your mind later, if you want to go the other way.]
Assignment #2: Look at Other Homeschoolers’ Blogs
If you aren’t sure what a blog is, you might want to watch this video. Then take some time to browse several student blogs. Click the links below to see what last semester’s homeschool co-op bloggers did:
- Farm Girl Brainwaves
- Intellectual Ramblings
- Kitten’s Purring
- Nate’s Nook
- The blog for weird people
- Check out the Homeschool Kids Blog Carnival for more ideas.
Notice that the students post a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction, serious writing and humorous stories, family stories, book reports, favorite jokes, videos, pictures, and more. Also pay attention to what the kids call themselves — how some use their first names, while others invent nicknames. Notice what they call their blogs, and what that tells you about them. That will lead you into the next step…
Assignment #3: Brainstorm Your Own Blog Name and Internet Alias
- What will you call yourself online?
- What will you call your blog?
To get ideas, think about your hobbies and interests. Try to think up 5-10 possibilities, and then choose your favorites. List your top three choices, in order of preference, in case someone else has already used the name you like best.
Important: Show your list to your parents, so they can warn you if any of the names you chose have unsavory connotations or other meanings that you aren’t aware of.
Assignment #4: Make Up a Password
You will need a password that you can remember but that no one else will be able to guess. For tips, read How To Make (and Remember!) a Strong Password.
Parents can be useful, so be sure to share your password with them. The password lets them get onto your blog to proofread your posts (as I said, very useful!), remove offensive comments, delete spam, etc.
Practice your password until you can type it perfectly from memory every time, with no mistakes. You will need this password to get on your blog when you come to class. If nobody else uses your computer at home, you could have your browser remember the password – but in class, we will be on shared machines, so that wouldn’t be safe. You will have to know your username and password by heart.
NEVER share your password with ANYONE except your parents!
Assignment #5: Sign Up for a WordPress.com Account
Because you have to check your email and click the validation link, it’s best to set up your account before you come to class. If you have trouble, I can help you sign up with WordPress.com the first day of class – but unless you know how to access your email online, you will not be able to work on your blog that day.
Remember: Do NOT put your real name in the optional Profile section! You may leave those boxes blank, if you wish — but if you do enter information, be sure to follow the internet safety rules.
In case you are wondering, here is why we use WordPress.com in my blogging class. If you already have a blog on another platform, you may continue to use it, but some of the things we talk about in class will not apply.
Extra Credit: Begin the Adventure
If you want to, you can play with your blog before the first day of class. Feel free to change settings and try different themes – you won’t “break” anything. Explore and have fun!