Earlier this month, I posted about how to use Google Reader to keep up with your various blogs. Some people use their reader to just pull in massive amounts of news media in order to replace their newspaper and TV media. For education, this is a great tool because many classrooms and teachers do not post on a regular basis. If their site is RSS capable, then your reader will check for you without you having to go to each site on your own.

I again urge anyone unfamiliar with the concept of a Reader or Aggregator to watch Common Craft’s video on RSS Aggregators.

Anyway, I remind you that one of the main purposes for blogging is the two-way interaction available via comments. And, because of that interaction, blogging is a great tool for expanding our learning communities to other people far away from our own classroom. And, if we are beginning to put our distant friends in our aggregator to keep up with their efforts, we should help those who want us to keep up with our efforts as well. Thus, today’s main idea is “How To Create Chicklets.”

If you look to the right of this blog, you will see listed below the links some little rectangles labeled with the names of different aggregators. This little chewy rectangles are called ‘chicklets’ in many circles. Any person can click on a chicklet to automatically open their reader to add that website. Ideally, some stranger will happen across Classroom Blogging and say, “Hey, I can’t live without that website!” They will click the Newsgator chicklet because they have a Newsgator account and add this blog to their subscription list. From then on, when they open their Newsgator reader, it will grab the latest posts from my page and they can maintain their love and affection for the site! *Ah, a chicklet with a gooey center.*

Creating chicklets can be challenging, unless you have a nice online tool that will help you. A teacher I met at a summer workshop shared a site that he found to help with this. http://www.kbcafe.com/rss/chicklet.aspx does just that. Just type your blog’s website address into the top box and click ‘Create HTML’. Copy the code that appears below. (I often paste large text blocks like that into a word document so I have a copy for later…just in case.)

Now, pasting that into your blog’s sidebar is different depending on which blog you use. If you use a WordPress-based blog, you can use their widgets to add the chicklets to your page. Enter your Dashboard. Select the Presentation menu on the page. From the new tabs that appeared, select Widgets. See the earlier post on Widgets for more help. Drag a text widget from the Available Widgets box at the bottom and drop it on your Sidebar. Your side bar now has a ‘Text 1’ widget with a small icon on the right side. Widget Text Box Click that icon and a Text window will popup. Whatever you type in that box will show up on your sidebar. Typing html code, such as the code you copied from kbcafe.com, will generate web-specific data in that box. Paste your chicklet html code into your text box and then save changes. View your page to see your new chicklets in your sidebar.

You have now created an easy link to your blog so that other teachers can more easily maintain a link to you.