Adding Appropriate Gadgets to Your Blog

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Objective

SWBAT add relevant "gadgets" to their blogs such that they become more dynamic and interesting!

Big Idea

... blogging is a ubiquitous form of academic, professional, and personal expression ...

Introduction and Context

10 minutes

[THIS IS THE 4th PART OF 7 PARTS IN A SEQUENCE OF LESSONS FOR THE FIRST "MINI-UNIT" OF THIS SEMESTER.]

So ... students have a blog, a profile, and some content ... now we want to add two "gadgets" to each student blog.  Gadgets are bits of .html programming that add functionality to blogs and Google Sites (among other web environments).  As the name implies, a "gadget" is an easily added feature for a blog that allows the end-user to perform a function, like subscribe (via RSS or email) to a blogger's postings or search a blog for specific content or easily connect to other sites via specific defined links (the type of gadgets we are adding in this lesson).

The really great feature of gadgets is that they allow a blogger (esp. a student-blogger) without any real programming knowledge to add nifty functions to his/her blog, thereby improving the user experience -- all within a few clicks!

After I guide students through the process of adding today's two gadgets, I share this post with them. While the article is particularly relevant to "fashion bloggers," I think the post of ten gadgets is a great, working list for additional, possible gadgets to add.

After adding these two gadgets (for today's lesson), student blogs will be ready -- in functionality -- for the first "formative assessment/check" (which I discuss in the following lesson).

Add a Link List

15 minutes

Before adding the first gadget, the Link List, you should ask students to load their four or five favorite websites in fresh tabs, one site per tab.  These sites can be anything really -- twitter, ESPN, your local paper, reddit, etc.  The point is simply to have links at the ready for the Link List!

Here are the steps to add the Link List:

  1. after landing on the blog's first page, click on "Design" in the upper-right, and, then, click on “Layout” on the left menu list
  2. the page rewrites, and you see your blog's layout, represented by a grid of rectangles and squares (see the attached resource for a screen shot of this)
  3. depending on the template you’re using, either on the left or right, locate your side column and find an “add gadget” link ... click on this
  4. when you click, a dialogue-box displays Blogger’s gadget set, and you can search or scroll "Basics," "More Gadgets," or "Add your own."  Select "Basics" (the default choice).
  5. scroll the list until you find "Link List" (as of this writing it is the 18th choice) ... click to add it
  6. in the new dialogue window that renders, type a title for the list -- call it "Websites I Love" and click orange "Save"
  7. once you have added a gadget, you can drag and drop it to different parts of your layout on the "Layout" page (under "Design")

After adding the Link List gadget, students will want to add content to the list.  First, as is outlined above, save the gadget and place it in the desired location of the layout.  Then, 

  1. click on the edit button next to the Link List in the layout view
  2. type a "name" for the site you want to add (I like asking students to think of clever names for this, names that describe the sites without giving the location away; refer to my example names in the video for this section.)
  3. tab over to the first of the 4 - 5 "fav. sites" already loaded in the browser
  4. grab the url and paste to the clip board
  5. paste the url into the "New Site URL" box
  6. click add link
  7. two final notes here: (1) I'd leave the sort to "Alphabetically" and (2) I'd leave the box blank next to "Number of items to show in list."
  8. rinse and repeat each time you want to add a new link to your list!

Add a Blog Roll

15 minutes

Before adding the second gadget, the Blog List, you should ask students to load their four or five (new?) favorite blogs in fresh tabs, one blog per tab.  (I elaborate on this point in the "reflection" for this lesson section.)

Here are the steps to add the Blog List:

  1. after landing on the blog's first page, click on "Design" in the upper-right, and, then, click on “Layout” on the left menu list
  2. the page rewrites, and you see your blog's layout, represented by a grid of rectangles and squares (see the attached resource for a screen shot of this)
  3. depending on the template you’re using, either on the left or right, locate your side column and find an “add gadget” link ... click on this
  4. when you click, a dialogue-box displays Blogger’s gadget set, and you can search or scroll "Basics," "More Gadgets," or "Add your own."  Select "Basics" (the default choice).
  5. scroll the list until you find "Blog List" (as of this writing it is the 17th choice) ... click to add it
  6. in the new dialogue window that renders, type a title for the list -- call it "Blog Roll" (all the cool bloggers do!) and click orange "Save"
  7. once you have added a gadget, you can drag and drop it to different parts of your layout on the "Layout" page (under "Design")

After adding the Blog List gadget, students will want to add content to the list.  First, as is outlined above, save the gadget and place it in the desired location of the layout.  Then, 

  1. click on the edit button next to the Blog List in the layout view
  2. click the blue "Add to List" link (just above orange "Save")
  3. paste the URL of the first of the "fav. blogs" into the resulting "Add by URL" box
  4. click orange "Save"
  5. final note here: have students experiment with the "Show" choices - each checkbox adds a diff. bit of the actual linked blog in the list box on the blog's landing page
  6. rinse and repeat each time you want to add a new blog to your list!