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.

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:

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:


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.


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!

What’s Behind Screen Options

At the top right of your WordPress Dashboard you’ll see a tab called Screen Options. Clicking on the tab brings up a list of options that can enhance your Dashboard use.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 5.26.48 PM



Checked boxes are options that are active. Try checking some options that are not currently active. For example, checking the Author box shows a pull-down menu of all the authors for your site. If you share a WordPress site, you can be a ghost writer by selecting another author or administrator’s name. This is particularly helpful in a school setting where the building principal might have a secretary or teacher post content that needs to be attributed to the principal.

Most of the options are not mission critical so you can uncheck those boxes to clean up your Dashboard. Important Options are Categories, Excerpt, Theme Options and, for those of you using Subscribe2, the Subscribe2 Notification Overide.


Tip of the Week: Setting Image Sizes

WordPress has three default sizes for images you place on a page or post:


You also have the option of setting the image to it’s full original size. You can, however, change those default sizes. This is helpful because you can set the large size to the width of your site’s center column, medium size to an image you might wrap with text in a post or page and thumbnails for preview or head shot images.

Of course you can always modify the size once you’ve uploaded it, but it makes things simpler when the defaults match the parameters of your site. Here’s how to change the defaults:

1. Login to your site and go to the Dashboard.
2. Click on Settings at the far left then Media under that.
3. You’ll see this screen where you can set your new sizes. You can make the dimensions a square (500 x 500) even if the image you upload is a rectangle. WordPress is smart enough to know the largest dimension of the new image and adjust the other dimension accordingly to maintain the proportions:
imagesizesI’ve set the large image for this site to 750 x 750 which is about the width of my content area. Remember that the images you already have uploaded will retain the old settings. Only the new uploads will reflect the new sizes.

Tip of the Week: Using a Search Widget

searchLots of WordPress sites have a Search Widget in a sidebar. So what’s the benefit of a search function? The Search Widget allows users to search for any content on your site including posts, pages and categories. When you drag the Search Widget to your sidebar, you’ll be prompted to give the Widget a title like “Search the Site” or “Can’t find it?”.

When users enter a word or phrase and click “Search”, they will be taken to a page or list of posts that contain that word or phrase. As your site becomes larger and more complex, the Search Widget becomes a great tool.

Need something more? WordPress has several advanced Search Widgets as well. Comment below to have an advanced Search Widget added to the list of Bethel Widgets.


The Magic of wp-admin

magicIf you have ever struggled to find the login window for your site, typing “wp-admin” at the end of your URL will take you there:


Be sure to add the “/” before and after your user name. If you are viewing any Bethel staff blog, you can type:


and it will bring up the login window that will log you into the Bethel WordPress system. You’ll see the WordPress menu bar at the top. Click on My Sites and scroll down to the name of your site to see your Dashboard.