When I first started blogging, I was clueless. What were these widgets people kept talking about? Now I know. Widgets are all those nifty things you see in the sidebars. Widgets can include pictures, text, graphics, counters, badges…the choices are nearly endless.
Just because the choices are endless doesn’t mean readers want my page to go on forever, so it’s time to take another look at just what’s on my sidebar as part of Kickstart Activity #7 in the Edublogs Teacher Challenge. I first looked at my side bar when I chose my current theme. I liked the flexibility using both a wide sidebar paired with two narrow sidebars. All of the fit quite nicely on left side, but I did do some rearranging.
I kept the two options for subcribing to my blog on the top. Readers can follow with either an RSS feed or an email subscription. Since many of my students (and their parents) are new to blogging I wanted to make sure they all had an option they were comfortable with. Next comes the cluster map showing visitors to my site. I love seeing new red dots show up and old ones grow bigger. I feel much less lonely now. I think the tag could and search box are some of the most useful widgets over there. I don’t know how often my readers use them, but I use both to search for previous posts I want to refer to later. I recently added a “What I’m Reading” box. I tell my students how important it is to read, and I wanted to give them a glimpse into what I read. I’ve considered upgrading to a bookshelf from Shelfari, but am passing at this point. I have enough trouble updating just the text. I can’t imagine how far behind I’d fall if I tried to link to another site and include graphics, too.
I like the two narrow side bars that hang out next to each other. Together they can present more information without someone having to scroll so far down the screen. The one on the left holds my avatar, recent comments, and the meta links for getting into the controls of my blog. I also have room over here to include different badges I pick up. Right now my only badge is for Tera Lynn Child’s Splash Team, when I blogged about her new book coming out last summer. In the future I may include other badges promoting more YA books and reading.
The far side is a collection of links I want to share with my students. I moved the Blogroll to the top of this stack because that’s where students and parents go to find the lastest posts written by students. They are organized by class period to make individual students easier to find. I also have a link to the blog written by our fabulous choral director. The remaining links are grouped into different categories: editorials, fun stuff, poetry, blogs by writers and blogs about books.
Yes, there are a lot of widgets lined up over there, but I hope they become a resource for my students and their parents as they explore the world of reading YA literature. I’m looking for good links to share. I found several great posts reflecting on the use of widgets and side bars. Check them out! What widgets do you like best?
- Berryart’s Blog followed the bird tracks around the web to tour different blogs.
- The Groovy Librarian not only added bling to her blog, but she also helped me take a closer look at my own organization.
- Streching Foward and Kevin’s Meandering Mind both emphasized the minimalist approach. I have to agree that I rarely see the widget’s on other people’s blogs since I read most of them through Google Reader.
- I love the welcome message on the the Webster Christian School Library Blog.
- Fresh Fowlers offered some widgets that look pretty nifty, including a poll and personality badge.