Using WordPress

WordPress Custom Menus

Using the basic WordPress set up allows you to have pages appear on your site as a menu. Most themes do this by default. When you look at a WordPress Theme (which is the default for new sites), pages appear across the screen below the large graphic header. Any new page you create will appear there as well.

But what if you want to have a menu that includes posts, categories, Internet sites or even documents? Or maybe you don’t want to have all the pages show up on the menu. That’s where WordPress Custom Menus comes in. Here’s a very quick How-To on using this feature of WordPress.

To create a custom menu:

1. In the Dashboard scroll down to Appearance and then click on Menus.

2. Click on the + tab just above Menu Name in the top-middle of the screen.

3. Give the menu a name and click Save Menu.

4. On the left-hand side of the screen you can select from existing pages on your site by putting a check next to one or more pages then click on Add to Menu. You can also add a post as a menu item. How cool is that?!

5. You can add custom links by entering a URL and giving the link a name. Click on Add to Menu and you’ll see your link appear on the menu.

6. You can order your menu items by dragging them up or down to reposition them.

7. Be sure to click Save Menu before proceeding.

To add your  new menu to your site:

1. Click on Widgets under Appearance in the Dashboard.

2. Find the Widget area where you’d like the menu to appear. Open that Widget area and drag the Custom Menu Widget to that area.

3. Select the menu you’d like to use (assuming you have more than one), give it a name and save it.

Now you’re all set. Go to your site and see what chaos you have wrought!

Anchors Aweigh!


Pointing readers to a specific spot on a new post, a previous post or a WordPress page can be an efficient way to guide readers to see specific content without having them scroll down the page or search the text. An anchor fills the bill.

An anchor is a tiny bit of code that you insert at a specific spot on your post or page. When you place an anchor on your post or page, you can link to it from any place on the post or page or any other post or page. Try this: Click Jump Me Down and see how it works.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using an anchor:

  1. Find the location on your post/page where you want the reader to land.
  2. Put your cursor next to a word somewhere down the page that will be your anchor. This is usually the first word in the content being linked to.
  3. In the upper right-hand corner of your post or page edit window, click on the Text tab.  This will change your page from a visual format to a text or coding format. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the computer gibberish. We’re just adding a tiny piece of code.
  4. To the left of your anchor word paste in this code:<p id=”jumpdown”/p>
    You can use any word to replace “jumpdown”.
  5. Click  the Visual tab next to the Text tab and scroll up in your edit window and type some text that will be the link to the anchor. This could be something as simple as “Click Here” or “espaňol”. Click the Text tab again, find your link to the anchor and paste this code next to it:
    <a href=”#jumpdown”></a>
  6. Now cut your link word(s) (“Click Here” or “espaňol”) and paste it between the > < symbols so the link looks like this:
    <a href=”#jumpdown”> Click Here </a>
    Notice that the anchor and the link use the exact same word: jumpdown. The words have to match so the link knows where to find the anchor.
  7. Test it out by saving your post/page as a draft then click on Preview.


And here you are . . . right down here where there might be some links, instructions or a Spanish translation.
Click to Jump back to the top.


That’s all there is to linking to an anchor when both the link and anchor are on the same page. But how does it work if you are linking from one post/page to another or even one WordPress site to another?

The process is almost the same with this one small difference:

The anchor remains exactly the same, but the link needs to know on which page or post the anchor resides. So the link, instead of this – <a href=”#jumpdown”> Click Here </a>- would now look like this:

<a href=””>Click Here</a>

Where the entire URL for the page is part of the link.

Prairie Mountain is using anchors to make is a single click for Spanish speaking parents to read translated blog posts.

“Continue Reading . . .” Draws the Reader In

Properly presented, content on your WordPress site can invite users to read all of what you have to say. Having an action word in your title and a colorful graphic are two useful strategies.

The “Continue Reading . . .” button is to the right in the first row of editing tools. Place your cursor where you’d like the jump to occur then click on the button marked with the red circle above.

But sometimes you have a lot to say and seeing 300-400 words cascading down the screen can be intimidating.  That’s where the “Continue Reading . . . ” link can help.

Placing the “Continue Reading . . .” link in an appropriate place 150 to 200 words into your post can make it appear to be an easier read. You might place it after a paragraph or perhaps at a place that teases the reader: “During our recent field trip, four students plunged” – Continue Reading . . .

To see this in action, click HERE then scroll down to this post.

Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to using this handy tool:

Continue reading

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:



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:


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.

Tip of the Week: HTML Code Part 2

Okay, you saw how easy it was to plop a picture in a sidebar. Text is even easier. Let’s say you want to add something like this:

Big Book Sale Wednesday!
Follow this link to sign up for this week’s Book Sale drawing. You could win an iPad!
Book Sale Drawing

Using the post editor, you can underline, make text bold, and make the font a bit larger. You can also add a link without writing a speck of HTML coding. Once you like what you’ve created, click on the Text tab to see the HTML code that WordPress created:

<span style=”text-decoration: underline;”><strong> Big Book Sale Wednesday!
</strong></span>Follow this link to sign up for this week’s Book Sale drawing. You could win an iPad!
<a href=””>Book Sale Drawing</a>

As we did in the last post, copy that HTML code and go to the Dashboard > Appearance and >Widgets. Drag a Text Widget to the Primary or Secondary Widget area. Paste in the HTML code. But before you save it, make sure to check the box “Automatically add paragraphs”. Save your widget and view your site. Your HTML code will look something like this on your front page:


Khan Academy: Scale of Earth and Sun

Here’s an example of how you can embed a Khan Academy video into your WordPress site:

1. Find the video on the Khan Academy site and right click on it and select “copy embed html”.
2. Create a new WordPress post and paste the copied embed code into the post with the HTML tab selected.
3. Adjust the height and width of the video by changing those values in the html code.

What’s in a Post Name?

Apparently not commas. Depending on how you have WordPress configured (see below), using a comma, period or perhaps some other punctuation marks in your post name will break the link to the post. It seems to be just good practice not to use a comma or period in your post title and to avoid any unnecessary marks as well including colons, quotation marks and slashes.

To see how you have WordPress set up to create the links to your posts (and pages):

1. Go to the Dashboard and click on Settings.
2. Under Settings click on Permalinks.
3. If you have Permalinks set to include the name of your post, either change it to some other format, or be cautious when creating post titles and avoid unnecessary punctuation.

Two more suggestion:

1. Make each post name unique. Having all your posts named “Room 25 Newsletter” doesn’t say anything about the content of the post and it doesn’t help user find posts when searching.

2. Make post names short but expressive. Using action verbs in the name makes it more interesting. A post name of “Science Projects” might be improved with “Science Projects Dazzle Parents”. The name for this post might have been “Commas Can Break Your Links”.