Make Money Online in the Classroom

If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you’ve already been indoctrinated into the world of Making Money Online. Just do a search using one of the big 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft), and you’ll see ads beside your results.

When we were growing up, we made money as teens by mowing the lawn, babysitting the neighbour’s kids, or having a paper route. As we got older, we started to get our first job: working at summer camp, a fast food joint or the local supermarket. Finally, we went to college or university to earn a degree and get a “real” job.

So it can be hard for us to understand that kids want to (and can) make money online.

Here are two things to think about:

1. Make money online as a teacher to help offset the costs of your technology-integrated classroom.

2. Explore the topic of Making money online with your students (either as a media literacy unit or as an extra-curricular club.)

Continue reading “Make Money Online in the Classroom”

Still using WordPress for our Classroom Website

We’re just creating our new classroom website for the 2009-2010 year. We had it up and running in about 15 minutes by setting up WordPress 2.8.4 (3 minutes to create the site; 12 minutes to cut and paste the content from our Meet the Teacher newsletter.)

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Twitter in the Classroom

twitterAt the end of June, our Grade 8 Language Arts (English) class experimented with using Twitter in the classroom.

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Hide Google Ads based on Geographic Location (Country or City)

We’re thinking about starting an entrepreneurial (Make Money Online) extra-curricular computer club at school: applying critical reading, writing and thinking skills while trying our hand at online fundraising for our school. 

We’ll probably start with making niche-websites that are monetized by contextual ads (i.e. Google Adsense). Google has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to click fraud (i.e. clicking on your own ads.) And while making money online ethically will be the corner-stone of our club, it’s hard to believe that students won’t be tempted to click on the ads on their own at home. 

So, we need a way to hide the google ads from showing up to students in our city so they can’t click on their own ads, but still show google ads to the rest of the world.

Continue reading “Hide Google Ads based on Geographic Location (Country or City)”

WordPress Plugins we use on our School Website

We haven’t posted recently because we’ve been busy experimenting with educational technology for the classroom, instead of simply writing about it.

It turns out that one of our colleagues has a kindergarten student who has his own free blog. Apparently, he reports on the classroom activities and uses exclamation marks quite liberally in his writing.

So, to honour the future bloggers of the world, we decided to do a quick post showcasing WordPress plugins that we use on our school website and classroom homework website.

(We run our classroom and school website using free WordPress software on our own self-hosted blog. What gives us the edge over someone who only has a free blog account is that when you run the WordPress software on your own computers, you have complete control over which plugins or themes you install, essentially making your classroom website infinetely expandable and customizable.)

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How to Hide Unmoderated Comments from Students in WordPress

Many teachers are blogging in the classroom. It’s authentic writing that hooks struggling readers and writers, especially boys.

However, there is one huge flaw with using WordPress or Edublogs in the classroom. Students can read unmoderated comments when they are logged into the edublog or class blog before the comments get moderated and published online. They can’t edit the comments, but they can still read them.

What does this mean? Continue reading “How to Hide Unmoderated Comments from Students in WordPress”

Social Networking with Web 2.0

Our Google pagerank has dropped to a rank of two and we’re not sure why.

Pagerank is Google’s opinion of how important a website is. The higher the pagerank, the more important Google (and apparently the world) thinks you are, and the higher you show up in a search listing.

In a nutshell, Google is a popularity contest. The more websites that link to your website, the more popular you and the better your pagerank. If a cool kid (i.e. a popular website) links to your website, then their vote counts for more (after all, they’re cool), and your pagerank improves even more.

So we’ve decided to socialize. Continue reading “Social Networking with Web 2.0”

WordPress Roles and Capabilities: How to get Students and Teachers to Put Content on Your School or Class Website

We use WordPress as the engine behind our school website and classroom blogs. It’s great because you can log in to the class website online and use the web interface to add contest to your website.

But WordPress also allows you to set up various levels of access to your site by changing the user role. That way, you can get students (and teachers) to write articles for your website, but you can control what actually gets published online.

There are 5 roles with different priviledges: administrators, editors, authors, contributors, and subscribers. The complete list of roles and capabilities is available on the WordPress site, but here’s what we do in a nut shell:

  • If you want to set up your blog so that only people who login can read your classroom website, then you could create a user for each student and set them up as subscribers. Subscribers can log in to read your blog but nothing else. (We don’t do this because we want our blog to be readable by the whole world,
  • We set up students as contributors on our class blogs. This lets students create posts (and edit posts), but they can’t publish them. The teacher (administrator or editor) has to moderate the post and decide if it should go live. That way the teacher has complete control over what gets published.
  • (We’ve also set up teachers as contributors on our school website. This allows teachers the freedom to create content, but also provides a check-and-balance that helps allows the principal to ensure the content is appropriate for the “official” voice of the school.
  • On our homework website, we’ve set up one student account as an author. We then pick a few trustworthy students to log in to the generic student account to type in the day’s homework as separate posts. As authors, they can publish the post directly onto the homework page without having the teacher moderate it. The risk is that they could also publish other content without permission, but we’ve locked down the website so that students can only login to the website at school. The benefit is that the students can come to our classroom after school, type in the homework on the website and it’s done. Less work for you.
  • We’ve set up a few teachers at our school as editors.  This is the only way that a peson can create pages and not just posts. Once you start getting higher up in the roles, you start to get more options (but then that can be more confusing for some people as well…)
  • And we’ve had to set up a few teachers as administrators. (Not that we wanted to because that allows you to do everything, from install plugins to change themes. But, it’s the only way you can change widgets on your blog. We’ve created a few blogs running on the same installation of WordPress using the WP-Hive plugin. It has a few bugs that we’re working through, but overall, it’s letting us run several sites off of one WordPress self-hosted account.

What’s the catch

There’ s one problem that we haven’t had a chance to overcome yet.

When we had an Ontario Blogs account (which was powered by WordPress Mu), the teacher account could moderate all the comments before the students saw them. That meant, a student could leave a comment on another student’s post, but the other student wouldn’t be able to see it until the teacher moderated it and published it live.

For some reason, with a self-hosted wordpress account or an edublogs account, even though you set up your students as contributors (so they can create posts, but not publish them), for some reason, they can see all of the comments that get left on your website when they are logged in.

This could be a very big problem given the inappropriate nature of spam out there. If you do not need to log into your blog before leaving a comment, then you’re opening your educational blog up to comment spam (and WordPress powered blogs get their fair share of them.)

It’s still a problem if only students are commenting on each other’s blogs because they might leave an inappropriate comment that could be seen by the student just by logging in.

There should be a way to hide unmoderated comments from student contributor accounts… we just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.

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)”