Inspired by Alec Couros’ original doc: “Blogging Prompts for Teachers

Ideas for Posts:[a]

Techniques for Opening Lines on Blogs

Do you want to discover how to make opening lines effective? How does one craft an opening line to a post that effectively engages readers and stimulates enough interest to get them to read your blog post?

1. Identify a Need

Identifying a reader’s need and solving it is a key to writing successful blog posts. You don’t have to solve the need or problem in the opening line, but an effective way to get readers to read deep into your post where you do solve it is to tell them that you will in the opening line.

2. Ask a Question With Only One Answer

This is a technique that copywriters have been using for a long time and it works. To do it, ask a question in the opening of your post which leaves your reader little room to answer anything but ‘yes’. I did it in line three of this post (‘Do you want to discover how to make opening lines effective’) but it could also effectively be used as the very opening to this post.

Asking this type of question does a couple of things. For starters you’re communicating what the post is about and the need that it will fulfill in the reader – but secondly (and more importantly) you’re drawing out a response in your reader and one which puts the need that your post will solve squarely in their mind. Anyone reading and answering ‘yes’ to my question above enters into this post having just said that they want to discover how to write engaging opening lines – this ‘buy in’ helps in the communication process that follows.

Asking ‘yes’ questions can actually be something you use more than once in a post. Ask a series of them scattered through your post and you can actually take your reader on a journey that leads them to your call to action.

3. Ask an Intriguing Question

Another type of question that is effective at getting readers interested in reading further into a post is one that leaves them hanging and wanting to know the answer.

‘What does Bill Gates and Martha Stewart have in common?’ – ‘Is the Nikon D700 the best Digital SLR Camera Ever Invented?’

All of these questions will appeal differently to different audiences – but all leave readers wondering what the answer will be and give them a reason to read on further into a post.

4. Say Something Unexpected

Attempt to do something a little different or surprising to grab readers’ attention by sharing something personal and at a first glance off topic.

Of course – the unexpected opening line should relate to your post’s topic on some level.

5. Tell a Story or Share an Analogy

Building on my last point – I find that telling stories to open posts can be one way of snapping  people out of their ho-hum, eyes glazed over state that many of us have while surfing the web.

This is particularly true on a blog that is more serious or formal in nature – to share a story means you’re switching genres for a moment or two, which can be enough to grab your reader’s attention.

Stories can be short (a one-liner like I did above) or longer (although you probably won’t want to go too long). They can be your own personal stories or stories of someone else. They can be true or even fiction.

6. Make a Claim or Promise

Sometimes a simple but bold claim is the most effective way to get people to read deeper into a post.

‘Today I will teach you how to give up smoking.’ – ‘In this post you’ll discover the secrets to taking the perfect portrait.’

These sorts of openings simply tell your reader what they’ll get if they read on. They are short, sharp, to the point and effective.

You’d better be able to back up the claim or promise in the post itself or you could have some angry readers on your hands.

7. Make a Controversial Statement

There’s nothing like the hint of controversy to grab people’s attention and cause them to stop in their tracks and take note of what’s going on.

Strongly state your opinion on a company, product or even another person and you’ll find people will want to read on to see why you’ve said it and to let you know if they agree.

8. Paint a Picture

This is a technique used a few times in public speaking that can translate across into writing effective blog posts. The basics of it are to get your reader using their imagination to picture some kind of scenario.

This can be used in both positive and negative ways:

  • Positive – get them to imagine a scenario when they achieve some success or overcome some problem.
  • Negative – alternatively get them to picture the consequences of a problem left unsolved or a failure that they might fear.

Engaging the imagination of your reader is a powerful thing which can evoke emotion, help them to get in touch with fear and feel needs but also give them real motivation to make change.

9. Use Statistics

Using a statistic that packs a punch can effectively communicate a need and grab attention.

Example –Opening Line – “Only 1 out of every 100 Readers Comment on your Blog”

10. Start with a Quotation

This is one that can be quite effective – if you use the right quotation of course.

Using the words of someone other than yourself can bring authority and credibility to your post. It can also grab attention if you choose the right person.

There is one caveat with this one, though. Avoid clichés like “John F. Kennedy once said,” and “Merriam-Webster defines courage as…”


  • passion blog
  • Write about something you are passionate about. Find something that you love or hate and share your passion with your readers.
  • Instead of simply gushing about (or bashing) your topic, your goal is to share your knowledge about the subject and perhaps persuade us to feel the same way.

  • class-related response
  • Respond to something that we are reading/discussing in class.
  • By “respond,” I mean that you should present your understanding of, opinion about, or confusion about the topic.
  • You can discuss a literary text that we’re reading, a language issue, or other topics we address throughout the year. Try to stay current, or if you want to discuss something from earlier in the year, find a way to connect it to what’s going on now.

  • outside text response
  • Respond to a text of your choice. Texts can be books, TV shows, films, blog posts, news articles, news broadcasts, videos, tweets, hashtags, or more.
  • By “respond to a text,” I mean that you should discuss something you’ve seen or read outside of class and share your response to it. The text could be something that made you think, confused you, made you happy, made you mad, interested you, or more.
  • Remember to provide a well-embedded link to your source text ( near the beginning of your post so your reader will have context early on).

  • Interdisciplinary post
  • Write a post about something you’re learning in any of your other classes. You can discuss concepts, articles, media, labs, etc. Writing is a thinking process, so blogging about a concept from another class can help solidify your thinking about it.

  • Current events post
  • Write a post about a current events topic. Explain the event and/or share your thoughts about it.

  • Vlog (4 minutes maximum)
  • Perhaps you want to present your ideas orally instead of in writing. Well, you can do that! Every once in a while, you may create a vlog post instead of a blog post. Vlog means video blog.
  • If you select this option, you must embed your video in your regular blog (you can’t just embed a hyperlink to the video).

  • Collabo-blog
  • Co-write a post with one, two, or three of your friends. Four people per post is the max. Color code who wrote what, just so we can get a sense for how well you collaborated.

  • Wordless blog
  • “Write” your post using only multimedia content  (photographs, gifs, vines, memes, etc.)
  • Images and videos must be embedded so the reader can see them all upon scrolling. The reader shouldn’t need to click on a bunch of URLs to find your content.

  • How-to

  • Free choice
  • Write whatever you’d like, as long as it’s school appropriate.

WRITING/FICTION/BOOKS

  • Sentence Starters:
  • When the rain started...
  • After she/he walked away...
  • I feel... when... because...
  • I thought to myself, “I can’t wait until tomorrow, because...”
  • Then I saw the bullying coming my way...
  • Today was the best day ever......
  • I walked around the corner and there was.....

SPORTS

  • Why do you enjoy playing sports?  
  • Write about your favorite team.
  • How might you communicate or demonstrate leadership in your team?
  • What’s your favorite sport and why?
  • Write a review of a game you recently watched
  • What makes one sport better than another?

MUSIC/FILM

  • Write about your favorite band. What is it about their music that you relate to? Talk about your favorite songs, share videos, lyrics and photos.
  • Write about a band or musician that you think we should know about.  Why is their work successful/significant?
  • Break down a song, an album. Tell us why you love it.
  • Write about your favorite scene from a movie.
  • Who is your favorite actor/actress? Tell us why.

GAMES

  • Convince your readers why gaming is a worthwhile activity.
  • Write about the design of your favorite game.
  • Do you game with others online? And if so, where are they from?      

 

DESIGN/PHOTOGRAPHY

  • Share some of your art work and write a post explaining why and what you have done.
  • How have technologies changed the way photography is created and consumed?
  • What work of art inspires you?  Why?  How could you emulate something about that in your own work?
  • Write about a photographer/designer that you think we should know about.  Why is their work successful/significant?

FOOD

  • What is your favorite food?
  • Write about best places to eat in

ETHICAL CONCERNS

  • What are the unethical issues around music and movie downloading? How can this be addressed in your school?
  • Should students be friends with their teachers on Facebook?
  • How much personal information, in general, should you exchange with your friends?  
  • Should websites be banned at school?

PEDAGOGICAL

  • Convince your reluctant teacher that the use of (insert a specific example of technology integration) will help you understand something you are learning about in school.
  • How can you use a social network to learn?

ROLE OF EDTECH IN COGNITION (learning/thinking)

  • How can technology enhance your learning?
  • How can technology distract you from learning? How can you manage this/these problem(s)?

PERSONAL (and professional) HABITS RELATED TO TECHNOLOGY USE

  • What is the best thing that happened to you because of blogging?
  • You may create a blog as a requirement for this course.  Will you follow through and maintain the blog when you move into another class?
  • Do you follow blogs? What are you looking for when you follow a blog?
  • How do you use technology in your everyday learning?
  • What is your online footprint, and how will it impact the opportunities for you in the future?
  • Have you ever collaborated on a document or presentation online? (eg. Google Docs or Prezi or etherpad)

TECH AS TOOL (and TECH TOOLS?)

  • What are the essential tech terms every student should know?
  • How would you use an iPad or other similar devices in school?
  • Should you be allowed to a have a cell phone in class?
  • When would you use technology to enhance your learning?
  • Is there anything that technology can add that can’t be done without using technology?
  • How can the internet help you learn with students from other countries, rather than simply learning ABOUT other countries?
  • Make an argument for or against Youtube use (or, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)  in schools.
  • Should you be allowed to use your own technology (including mobile phones) in school? What are the pros and cons?

 

ACCESS ISSUES

  • What happens when you do not have internet access at home?
  • How can we get rid of Website filters and actually trust students to handle situations as they arise?
  • What advice will you give to your friends regarding their “digital footprint”?
  • Do “games” have anyplace in our classrooms?

FUTURE OF EDUCATION (Role of technology in education)

  • How do you see the role of instruction with/about technology changing in the next few years?
  • can schools use cell (mobile) phones in the classroom?
  • Are schools becoming less relevant today? How must schools change to become more relevant to meet learners needs today?
  • How will/should classrooms in the future look different from classrooms today?
  • How do you predict you will use technology as a student?
  • How do we help high schools and universities to become as innovative as elementary schools are?
  • Should you learn how to write cursive?
  • When is the appropriate time to learn how to type/keyboard?
  • Will textbooks become obsolete?
  • Is technology disruptive in education?

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS  

  • What is the role of technology in your daily life?
  • How does social media impact your life?
  • Should we ban social media?
  • Is social media a waste of time?
  • Why do you think that some teachers have a negative attitude towards technology in education?
  • Why do classrooms today look so much like classrooms from 100 years ago? How have they changed?

SOCIOLOGICAL ISSUES

  • What should education’s role be in helping students understand the importance of balancing a healthy lifestyle that is led both on- and off-line?
  • What is the role of social networking in how young people grow up, perceive and interact with the world today?

Media Resources - Respond to One of These Presentations:

General Blogging Prompt Resources

Authors of This Document: (add your name below)

  • many key ideas came from Alec Couros @courosa original doc, titled “Blogging Prompts for Teachers
  • Dana Watts @teachwatts
  • Jabiz Raisdana @intrepidteacher
  • Kim Cofino @mscofino
  • Will Kirkwood @wkirkwood
  • TS Bray @tsbray
  • Jason Graham @jasongraham99