Maintenance Mode – Hiding your school website while it’s under construction

Are you the teacher responsible for your school’s website? Perhaps you have a classroom blog.

Either way, there will be times that you’re trying out new things on your site that you don’t want the rest of the world to see. Here are some scenarios:

  • You’re flipping through a few new themes and layouts and you don’t want visitors to see the “rough” drafts.
  • You’re creating a school website, but it can’t go “live” until you have your principal’s approval.
  • Things have gone wrong and you need to temporarily “close” the site until the problem is fixed.

We’re working on our school website (using a self-hosted WordPress blog to create the site) and we need a blank splash page so that visitors can’t see the real site until it’s ready.

Maintenance Mode is a neat little WordPress plugin that does the trick.

  • It allows you to throw up a customizable splash page so that when people try to visit your website, they see a little message saying the site is under construction. (If you know HTML, you can change the message to say anything you want.)
  • If you are logged into your account (there’s a little administration link in the bottom right corner) and try to visit your site, you’ll see the actual site. (If you’re not logged in, you see the splash page.)

Once your plugin is installed (which can be done easily if you’re using plugin-central), you can turn the maintenance mode page on or off with the click of a button.

Bottom Line: So, if you are creating your school site as a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can use this plugin to hide your site until you’re ready to officially launch it.

4 Extra Things That You Can Do With a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog (that you can’t do with a Free WordPress blog)

We’re writing our ebook with step-by-step instructios on how to make a school website or classroom blog and quickly remembering why we like self-hosted WordPress blogs so much.

Lots of teachers start their classroom blogs using a free WordPress blog or Edublogs account. And quite frankly, that’s the right place to start:

  • It’s free.
  • There’s a lot of support. (Edublogs is an entire community of educators blogging on their edu-blogs.)
  • It’s simple. You don’t need to be a technical whiz-kid.

For many classroom teachers, the free blogs will meet all of their needs. Most people never go beyond this stage. (Heck, most teachers never get online!)

But, for some of us, it’s not enough. We want more. We see what other people are doing with their blogs and we want the unlimited freedom that comes with a self-hosted WordPress blog.

You see, while WordPress.com and Edublogs.org offer great products, you’re limited to a watered-down version of the WordPress software. You’re not getting all the bells and whistles because you can’t install any new themes or plugins.

When is the right time to transfer your classroom blog from a free WordPress account to a self-hosted WordPress account? It’s when your imagination exceeds the options provided by the free blog account.

A self-hosted WordPress blog is not for everybody, but here are a few of the features that you can’t get with a Free WordPress Account or Edublogs Account:

  1. Infinetely Expandable through Plugins and Themes
  2. Translate your School Website or Class Blog into Different Languages
  3. Better Page Navigation
  4. Easier to Move Pages Around (Change the Page Order)

Continue reading “4 Extra Things That You Can Do With a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog (that you can’t do with a Free WordPress blog)”

Geotag Your Classroom Blog – Show Off Where Your Visitors Come From

Geotagging is the art and science of adding geographic information to stuff on the net. It’s interesting for teachers because it gives you a way to show your students who is reading their work published on the internet. Or, at least, where they’re from.

Continue reading “Geotag Your Classroom Blog – Show Off Where Your Visitors Come From”

Dynamic Visual Brainstorming Software – PreWriting, Brainstorming, Organizing and Outlining Ideas with a Computer

So, we’ve decided to write a book. A small summer project to warm-up with before heading back into the classroom in September. Of course, this is a great opportunity to try out some visual thinking software to help us with our prewriting.

We have a huge list of software and educational technologies that we wanted to check out for the new school year. Aside from drooling over a SMART Board and using digital ink in our classroom, one of the items on our wish list is to check out some dynamic graphic organizer software.

Inspiration Software is an American company that specializes in visual thinking and learning tools. Their product, Inspiration 8, is a great tool for Prewriting – you can brainstorm, organize, plan and create the outline for your next masterpiece. (You can also download a fully functioning, 30-day trial version of Inspiration 8 for free.) Continue reading “Dynamic Visual Brainstorming Software – PreWriting, Brainstorming, Organizing and Outlining Ideas with a Computer”

Education Technology for the Classroom: From Blackboards to Digital Projectors to SMART Boards

Even though it’s summer vacation in Ontario, we’re still thinking about ways to integrate technology into the classroom.

In fact, we’re considering investing in a SMART board, so we spent some time reflecting on the pros and cons of some of the educational technologies to help us teach in the classroom.  From low-tech to high-tech, chalk and markers to digital ink, there are many different options:

Continue reading “Education Technology for the Classroom: From Blackboards to Digital Projectors to SMART Boards”

Classroom Technology Wish List: 101 Ways to Bring Technology into the Classroom

Note: This is a living document. This list was last updated on Jul 4, 2012. How do you use technology in your classroom? Leave a comment below.

Sure, it’s summer time, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a few ideas brewing on the back burner. Here are some technology things that you could do with your students. Not everything may be feasible (i.e. cost factors) or appropriate (i.e. security or privacy issues):

  • some of the things we’re already doing,
  • some of the things we’re thinking of doing, and,
  • some of the things are simply wishful thinking, but great ideas have to start somewhere…

Some of the things listed could be considered authentic ways to use technology in the classroom (i.e. using smart boards as a teaching tool), where as other ideas might be considered using technology for technology’s sake (i.e. learning HTML to explore web design).

How do you integrate technology into the curriculum? Do you have any ideas to add to the list? (It’s a work in progress. Yes, we know there aren’t 101 things on the list… yet.) Continue reading “Classroom Technology Wish List: 101 Ways to Bring Technology into the Classroom”