Yikes!! The Exclamation Point is Overused!!

exclamation PointOkay, blame it on texting and social media if you like, but the exclamation point’s overuse is sucking the life out of the grand old dame of punctuation. What used to be reserved for shouting “Fire! Run for your life!” is now being added to “Thank you!”, “See you Saturday!” and “My cat had kittens!” And if one exclamation point is good, two must be better and three, well, “You Rock!!!”

Because the exclamation point is meant to indicate yelling, using it in a blog post, email or text message with words that you wouldn’t shout in normal conversation sounds like you are hollering. The unnecessary use of the exclamation point in writing is a visual distraction which translates into a non-verbal impediment toward understanding what’s being communicated.

And don’t get me started on typing in all capital letters.

The best advice: Don’t use an exclamation point to replace good writing.

Mark Twain chastised writers who used exclamation points as laughing at their own humor, “all of which is very depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a better life.”

Author Terry Pratchett wrote, “Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.”

Tempering the use of the exclamation point in your blog posts will make you a better writer. Your readers will love you for it – – at least I will. Honest. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Making a Single Post Password Protected

keySometimes your new post isn’t for everyone. Perhaps you’d like to have your parents know about an upcoming field trip and why you need 10 volunteers. You might include some pictures of last year’s field trip and a map to the site. Sure, you can email parents, but an email disappears quickly into the virtual universe and an email makes it difficult to carry on a conversation with some replies going to everyone and some going just to you. Using post comments is much easier.

Here’s an easy way to create a post that is password protected. Just create the post and before publishing, click on Edit next to Visibility in the Publish box. Select “Password protected” and enter a simple password.

If you use Subscribe2, in your excerpt, identify the password your users can use to access the post. Either way, your password will be part of the email that Subscribe2 sends out to users. If you don’t have your WordPress site set up to use Subscribe2, you can send an email from your Bethel email account to your users including the link and the password.

If you are using Subscribe2, be sure in Settings to set “Send Emails for Password Protected Posts” to “Yes”.

This shouldn’t be used for confidential information, but it is a great way to direct a post to a specific group.

Adding a Google Calendar

Having your Google calendar on your Web site is better than linking to it because it keeps your users right there where you want them. Here’s how to do it.

When looking at your Google calendar, click  the little triangle just to the right of your name under My Calendars. This will bring up a menu and you can click on Calendar Settings.

In the screen that shows up, you’ll see a calendar icon in the middle with the embed code just to the right and it should look like this:

<iframe src=”https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=your.name%40bethel.k12.or.us&ctz=UTC” style=”border: 0″ width=”800″ height=”600″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe>

Copy the embed code. The width of the calendar can be changed once you paste the embed code into a page on your WordPress site.

Now go to your WordPress site and go to > Dashboard > Pages > Add New.

Enter a title for the page (Calendar) then click on the Text tab in the upper right of the edit window. Put your cursor in the edit window and paste the embed code.

You’ll want to make the width of the calendar about 600 instead of 800 and about 450 high instead of 600 if you have a typical WordPress theme, but you can experiment with the size. Publish your new calendar page. If you like what it looks like, you’re good to go and you’ll see the Calendar tab on the top menu of your site with all the other pages if you have your top menu showing pages. If the calendar is too big or  too small, go back in and edit the embed code.

Need help with embedding? Email Tim.

Quick Edit from the Dashboard

In WordPress version 4.2.2 you can make changes to widgets and see the changes in real time. Here’s what it looks like:

widgetsscreen

 

Select the widget from the list on the left, then make any edits you want. Save at the top of the sidebar and click the “X” to close. It is as easy as that. And the beauty of this feature is that you see the changes you make in real time before you save and commit to the changes. Here’s a quick video snippet so you can see what it looks like:

 

Adding a Google Form to WordPress

Google Docs includes Google Forms – Think survey or quiz. Here’s a Step-by-Step:

1. In Google Docs, go to Create New and select Form.
2. Enter a title for your form and any explanation.
3. Type a question (or survey comment).
4. Add the type of response (multiple choice, check boxes, etc.) and response choices if needed.
5. Click Add Item  to add another question.
6. When you are done, select a Theme by clicking on the Change Theme tab at the top.
7. Save the form and then, if you want to add the form to your WordPress site, go to the File menu and  to Embed to find the embed code and copy it.
8. Return to your WordPress site and create a new post or page.
9. Click on the Text tab and paste the embed code in the text window.
10. Publish the WordPress post.
11. Wait for users to fill in the form, or better yet, send the post via email (or Subscribe2) requesting users to fill out the form.
12. You can view the submissions live as they come in (really!) or just view submissions by going to the form in Google Docs and clicking on See Responses.
13. Or here’s another idea: Tell Google Docs to send you an email whenever someone adds a new response. To add an email notification, click on the Responses tab and View Responses. On the next screen, click on the Tools tab and scroll down to Notification Rules. Select the items that meet your needs and click on Save.

Once you’ve collected your data, you can post the results in graphic form. Click here for an example of graphed survey results (but it could just as easily be the results of a student quiz): Administrator Survey Results

Here’s what a sample quiz looks like:

Khan Academy: A Valuable Resource for the Classroom

Visit Khan Academy

Khan Academy is an online math, science and humanities resource available free to anyone. The Web site includes hundreds of videos on topics from Adding Whole Numbers to Probability, Big Bang Introduction to Introduction to GravityMonet’s Water Lilies to Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait, and the Vietnam War to the Electoral College.

See 60 Minutes piece on Khan Academy.

Although you can have a self-contained learning experience on the Khan Academy’s Web site, the Bethel School District sees the Khan Academy not as a substitute for classroom teaching and learning, but as a valuable additional resource for both teachers and students. Teachers might use a video in place of a chapter in the text book or a lecture. Students can use Khan Academy to review materials they don’t quite understand or learn a skill or concept that was taught while they were absent or not paying attention.

It is important to match the videos with your students’ skills/knowledge and to the curriculum you are delivering. Check the videos for both accuracy and student engagement before making them available.

The workshop on August 20, 2014 will focus on these topics:

1. How to navigate the site and find resources.
2. Evaluate the quality and accuracy of the content of Khan Academy.
3. Learn ways of making videos available to students.
4. Share how these resources can be used at your grade level and with your curriculum.
5. Demonstrate how videos can be embedded into your WordPress site.

As you think of more ideas for using Khan Academy in your classroom, leave a comment. Or if you just have an opinion or question, let us hear from you.

Addendum: Here’s a rather pointed critique of Khan Academy that gives a different perspective.

Word Press Next Steps 8-20-2014

 

Tip of the Week: Resizing Images in WP 3.9

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 5.18.54 AMYou have lots of resizing options with the new version of WordPress.

1. The first option is to click on the image you’ve placed in your post’s edit window then click on the little pencil icon. In this window you can select from 4 options in the Size pull-down menu: Thumbnail, Medium, Full Size or Custom.

2. If you select Custom, you can enter the size you want assuming it is smaller than the original.

3. You can also click on Edit Original and scale the image from the original size.

4. You can edit a WordPress image from the Medial Library. Just click on Edit under the image in the library then click on Edit Image under the large image version that appears.

5. The final way to resize an image is to click on it in the post or page edit window and drag the bottom right corner toward the center (or away from the center if you want to enlarge it to not more than the original size).

Adding Images in WordPress 3.9

Red Harley Davidson

Red Harley Davidson

One helpful improvement in the newest version of WordPress is how images are added to posts and pages. In previous versions, you needed to add them to your media library first. With WordPress 3.9, you can drag and drop images right to your post. Here’s how:

METHOD 1

1. Place the cursor where you’d like the image to appear.
2. Shrink your window a bit to see the image you would like to add (having it on the desktop is convenient) and drag and drop the image to your post edit window. You’ll see the image appear in your media library.
3. In the lower right of the library, select an image size then click insert into Post.
4.  If necessary, re-size the images by clicking and dragging the bottom right-hand corner of the image.

METHOD 2

You can also create a gallery right in your Media Library:
1. Place the cursor in your post where you’d like to have the Gallery appear.
2. Click on the Add Media button above the tool bar.
3. Click on Create Gallery at the top left.
4. Select any of the uploaded images you want to include in your gallery by clicking on them.
5. Click on Create a New Gallery at the bottom right and then click on Insert into Post. All the images will now appear in your post edit window.
6. If you are satisfied, click Publish and  you are done.

New Jimmy Smith 3.9

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 3.57.20 PMWordPress was just updated on all Bethel sites and the new version is named after jazz musician Jimmy Smith. A common name for a very slick update. Here are the highlights:

There are three new improvements about which you’ll want to know:

Improved visual editing

There is no longer a “W” folder in the tool bar because you can now paste into your post or page from your word processor without wasting time to clean up messy styling. (Yeah, we’re talking about you, Microsoft Word.)

Edit images easily

With quicker access to crop and rotation tools, it’s now much easier to edit your images while editing posts. You can also scale images directly in the editor to find just the right fit. Simply drag a corner toward the middle of the image.

Drag and drop your images

Uploading your images is easier than ever. Just grab them from your desktop and drop them in the editor. This takes the steps of opening your media library, clicking on Upload, finding the file and uploading it.

The new WordPress is singing a sweet tune. Thanks Jimmy!