Once your class start blogging regularly some issues quickly present themselves that need some thought. The first is the “visibility” of blog posts. Most people leave the default WordPress setting alone - to display 10 blog posts per page, so if 30 children all write a blog post in a lesson then only the last 10 to be published will be “visible”, i.e. on the home page. You can go in and change this setting if you want (Settings > Reading), but that presents its own problems especially speed of loading the page, and, does anyone really want to scroll down through 30 blog posts on a single page? Secondly, if the children are all busy blogging independently, with the best will in the world, some of them will inevitably produce blog posts that maybe aren’t of the highest quality, and while you might be pleased that the children are writing stuff for their blog in their own time, you might not want it at the top of you home page.
Luckily, there is an excellent simple plugin that deals with these issues in an elegant fashion. It’s called the Ultimate Category Excluder plugin and is best used in conjunction with a custom menu. The plugin uses the WordPress categories feature and simply excludes certain categories from the homepage. Let's say you didn't want posts from the 100 Word Challenge clogging your homepage and wanted them under a separate menu item.
1. Setting up categories
The first thing to do is to create a set of categories in Posts > Categories including a category for the posts that you wish to exclude. In the example below the teacher has created a category called "Best of Class" to show case the best writing, and a category for each of the children.
Once you set up a list of categories, they will always appear alongside the blog post editor and the children are instructed that whenever they write a blog post they must select their name from the category list (I recommend that you still use tags in the normal way).
3. Setting up the plugin
The settings for the plugin use a similar tickbox approach and you simply choose which categories you want to exclude from the homepage (and from your class blog’s feed, for that matter). On your blog's dashboard go to Settings > Category Exclusion
In the example below, the teacher is choosing to exclude the catgories "100wc" and "Spelling" from the homepage.
4. Displaying Excluded Categories
The simplest way to display excluded categories is to add the categories widget into the sidebar of your blog. However, for better visibility you might wish to add a menu item linking to the category. Go to Appearance > Menus and create a menu adding the categories. There is a full video tutorial on how to create navigation menus in the video tutorials on your blog menu.
So through this simple plugin the teacher can achieve several important benefits: the best posts remain visible on the homepage for longer and there is no more “churn” as your ever enthusiastic bloggers produce lots of posts; the teacher gets some editorial control over what is “showcased” on the homepage of the blog, and the children appear to get their own individual blogs within their own class blog by setting up category links to their own posts via a menu. A highly recommended and simple extension to WordPress.
Note: we do not install this plugin as standard so if it is not in your installation (you want have Category Exclusion as a menu item under settings on your blog) then raise a ticket via the supportdesk and we'll install it for you