The FAQ

FAQ

Details and instructions for some basic functions of the digital classroom.

How do I change my password?

LOG, change your password by hovering over MY BLOG in top toolbar, choose My account drop-down menu and then Edit tab; change your password (and any other personal info). SAVE.

 

How do I create my classroom?

  1. Click My Classroom link in top toolbar.
  2. Click on Sample Classroom to Clone link; then, in Author tools click Clone; that opens an editing form. IMPORTANT: Make sure you selected Clone and not Edit; it is correct if the title reads: Clone of Sample Classroom to Clone
  3. Keep the settings as is; change ONLY the Title of the classroom; and the Welcome Message in the Body section to something specific to your own class.
  4. Scroll to the bottom, SAVE. Your classroom now exists in the MY CLASSROOM area.
  5. IMPORTANT STEP: Go to the classroom and click on Tags at the top. You will see a Vocabulary (a collection of tags) has been created for you. EDIT that vocabulary to:
    1. Under Vocabulary Name, change name to something more recognizable like Tags-Quick Writes or Tags-[ClassroomName]
    2. Under Content Types, make sure boxes are checked for: Blog, Exercise and Wiki
    3. Under Settings, make sure the boxes are ONLY checked for:  Users can add tags and Show user-added tags
  6. SAVE

NOTE: You can’t put a single exercise into multiple classrooms because all these tags will get mixed up. CLONE each exercise, put it into the new classroom and create a new tag for that classroom.

 

How do I put my students in my classroom?

  1. Create a three(3)-column spreadsheet with Headers:  username  |  email  |  password
    1. Username: Please follow privacy conventions by having student usernames be FirstnameL(ast initial) as in GeoffreyG or MickeyM.
    2. Email: Please use REAL email addresses. (If not available, call YWP; or you MUST use this email convention to create non-working email addresses: username@ywpcool.net … again, everyone must use ywpcool.net if no real email addresses so as to avoid duplicate users. (OR CALL YWP for help.)
    3. Password: Give everyone the same password for ease of initial login; have them change password IMMEDIATELY after logging in first time to their school network password.
    4. Save in Excel as a .CSV(MS-DOS) file type
  1. In top navigation toolbar, hover over ADMINISTER click Import Users in drop-down menu.
  2. Note option to Import file. Browse your computer’s files and select the .csv file you just made.  
  3. Click Notify user if you are using real email addresses and want users to get info on the site url, and their username and password via email.
  4. Click the box next to the classroom(s) of which you want your students to be part.
  5. Click next at the bottom of the page. If your file was formatted correctly, you should be looking at a preview of the students you want to import. Double check.
  6. Click Import Users.
  7. You can now check your classroom to see all your users.

NOTE: To add users individually, go to ADMINISTER>>Users>>Add user. Fill out information but MAKE SURE to give the new user a role – student or teacher – and choose the classroom and save.

 

How do I create an Exercise (assignment)?

  1. In top toolbar, hover over WRITE. Select Create exercise from drop down menu.
  2. Give a Title to your exercise, and in Body fill in the necessary information for completing it; make sure to give students instructions to Create a Blog and which Tag to choose.
  3. At right, you will see Classroom and Tags; select the classroom the assignment is to be posted to.
  4. Next, choose the tag OR create a new one by clicking other and typing in the new tag in the box. This tag will help you and students find all the work done for this exercise.
  5. Add audio, images and attachments as needed.
  6. SAVE.

 

What’s with Tags?

Concept: A tag is like a label on a file folder; it is an electronic way to link similar posts, responses to the same exercise say. They are essential to keep order in your classroom and to easily find each other’s related posts.

A vocabulary, or Tags, again, is a collection of tags or a category of tags. We suggest that you give thought to whether you want more than one vocabulary to help you organize your activities and tags. For instance, you may organize the classroom tags around types of writing being done: Quick Writes, Homework, Projects, YWP Prompts …. Or around the genre of work: Narrative, Argument, Informational, Multi-media, etc … You may want your own vocabulary for Resources.

Technical: To create additional vocabularies, simply go to your classroom, click ‘Tags’  and click the ‘add a vocabulary.’ And, again, in the editing form make sure to select the proper settings:

  1. Create the name of the vocabulary; (description and machine name are not needed), but:
  2. Under Content Types, make sure the boxes are checked ONLY for: Blog, Exercise and Wiki
  3. Under Settings, make sure the boxes are ONLY checked for:  ‘Users can add tags’ and ‘Show user-added tags’

To create individual tags to go with your exercises, there are two ways:

  1. Easiest: Create them as you create your exercise as described above (under the Tags for that classroom, choose Other and type in the new tag you want. It will then appear when students go to create their blog and choose that classroom. (NOTE: If you are using multiple vocabularies, make sure, in your instructions, you are telling the students under which vocabulary the tag is located.
  2. Almost as easy: Go to your classroom, click ‘Tags’, select the appropriate vocabulary and click the ‘add tag’ link.

NOTE: Tags make people’s head spin. Sorry. You WILL get the hang of it. An individual tag for each exercise; group individual tags by vocabularies; tell the student specifically what tag to use for their exercise. CAVEAT: You can’t put a single exercise into multiple classrooms because all these tags will get mixed up. CLONE each exercise, put it into the new classroom and create a new tag.

 

How do I get the exercise off the top of my classroom page?

Exercises are set up to stay at the top of the posts in your classroom, so your students' posts will appear below the assignment. When the deadline has passed, or you no longer want the assignment to be at the top, you can edit the exercise, go to Publishing Options on the right of the edit form and Uncheck the box Sticky at top of lists. This will keep your classroom view fresher with most recent material at top.

 

How do I post a blog?

A blog post is the primary type of post on the site. In the drop down menu of WRITE you will see Create a Blog entry. (You can also just click WRITE.)

You will now see the form to create the blog entry. Add a Title at the top;  on the right choose the proper classroom (if you are in more than one) and the appropriate tag from the Tags drop down menu.

Tags help keep the writing organized and can be thought of as folders for storing different work. Generally, each assignment gets a different tag so everyone can find the responses to the specific assignments. Teachers are the only users who can create new tags and should do so with each new exercise.

Students have the options of adding audio and images; they can direct record and upload audio to the blog; and they can click Disable rich text link below Body and paste in embed code of a multi-media item created in another application.

Students also can view the appropriate exercise on TOP of the form, by clicking the drop-down box; the most recent exercise will appear. They can scroll back if that isn’t the right one.

NOTE: Students have the option of UNchecking the Publish box under Publishing options if they only want you to see it and aren’t ready to share it with the rest of the class.

 

What does the Revisions tab mean?

Every time a student edits a post, the site automatically creates a new version or a revision. You and the author can see the revisions by clicking the revision tab when the post is seen in full view (click the Title for the full view.) (If there is no revision tab, that means the student has not edited the post.) The most recent revision is what is visible by users of the site.

You can compare any two revisions by clicking the Revisions tab and checking the box on the appropriate two versions and clicking compare. The earlier version is on the left with a yellow background, the later on the right against a green background; all changed or added words are in red.

 

What does Annotation mean?

As a teacher, you have several ways to respond to a student piece. You can leave a Comment that everyone can see. This is great when you want your message to be seen by a number of the students. You may also want to send the author a Private message (link is in the right sidebar box with the username as title), something you want only her or him to see.

Sometimes, though, you may want to send a private message that is part of the post but not visible to anyone but the author; you may have some specific direction that you don’t want others to see. In the latter case use the Annotation feature. Each node has a link at the bottom that only you can see: Annotation: New Note. Click that to leave a new, private, post-related message that stays with the post. When you save it, the author will see an Annotation tab appear on the post; no one else will see it except you and the author. You can then check back and read the annotation and see whether the student has done what was asked of him/her.

 

How do I see what my students have posted?

  1. Anything that your students post to your classroom can be seen in that Classroom space. Posts will appear chronologically, beneath any posts that are sticky at top of list. You can view content chronologically by scrolling through your classroom posts.
  2. In your classroom you can click Classroom Tags in the right sidebar to see work by tag.
  3. Open the full view of a post (click Title) and click the Blue Arrow in either direction to scroll through full views of all posts with that tag.
  4. In the top toolbar, click FIND STUFF. This takes you to a full page where you can you can filter posts by published/not published, classroom, author or tag, or any combination of those fields. You can view the results: , and whether or not the piece is published or not, or just saved. You
    1. As a table, full nodes, portfolio view (cleaned of html coding so you can cut and past into Word, Google Docs or portfolio software)
    2. See comments only
    3. A table segmented by author.

NOTE: ((In all tables, by clicking on a column heading, you can sort what is displayed by alphabetical or chronological order, depending on which is possible. Clicking again will invert the sort; i.e. 'newest to oldest' changes to 'oldest to newest'.))

 

How do I Add Audio?

Once you open a Create form (blog, exercise or wiki) you will notice an Add Audio option below the Title. This options are available when first creating a node, or when editing a pre-existing one.

When expanded, this little window serves the dual purpose of letting you upload a saved sound file, or record yourself then and there.

To upload a saved audio file (.mp3 or .wav file), click Upload, click Browse (or inside a blank box, depending on browser) and select the file from your computer. Double click the proper file, and then click the blue Upload button. Make sure to save your post before leaving the page.

To record yourself directly, select the link that says Audio Recorder. Now you should have a red record button displayed. Click it to begin recording.

This invokes a Flash program that requests permission to access your computer’s microphone and files. This is OK. You will need to grant this permission; first click Remember and then click Allow. (By clicking, ‘remember’ you won’t ever have to do this part again!)

You should now see the counter below the record button begin to move. After a second or two, speak into your microphone; when done, click the white box in the red button.

IMPORTANT: Now click the Upload button below the red REC.

It’s done, when you see a black bar player appear. Do not try to play it. Go to bottom and SAVE, otherwise you will lose your recording.

NOTE: Unfortunately the audio options do not work with iPads. Please contact us about work-arounds.

 

How do I Add Single Photo/Add Gallery?

Similarly to posting audio, when you edit or create a new post you will see an area above the body of your post to Add a Single Photo for uploading a single image file or below the body of the post to Add a Gallery for uploading multiple images to a gallery.

Click Browse (or the white box depending on your browser) for either single image or gallery and select the image file (.jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif) you want to add. (You can only add one file at a time even in gallery.) After selecting your images, make sure that you click the blue Upload button, and then SAVE. The Single Photo will appear in the left upper corner of your post. The Gallery will appear at the bottom;  more than four images will invoke the scrolling arrows.

NOTE: The image upload function works perfectly with an iPad AND gives you the option of adding or taking a video or image.

 

How do I comment?

Every node (blog post, exercise) can be commented on. By simply clicking the title of the post, you are moved into a form where you can enter your own comment beneath the author's writing.

The author of the post will be notified that she/he has a new comment.

The subject of the comment is not required – if  you leave it blank it will fill in with the first few words of your comment.

 

Wikis and Webforms and bears, oh my!

There are also two other types of posts that you may have noticed by now that appear in the drop-down menu under WRITE.

Wikis are interesting because they allow for more than one person to work on the same piece of writing. They look largely like blog posts, except that any member of the class can open and edit them.

Teachers have the ability to create Webforms, which can be used as a platform for making surveys, quizzes and tests. With a webform, you can make true or false, multiple choice, and short answer questions for your students to respond to. Answers will be saved in the database, and you can download them as a spreadsheet, or simply view them on the website.

Webforms can be tricky because when you first start to create one, it looks very similar to creating an exercise or a blog post. The differences become apparent after you save the post. After you write a short description of the assignment and give it a title/tag/classroom, you can save it, and move on to the fun part. Adding in the webform components, or, as we humans might call them... questions? items?

Grid: Allows creation of grid questions, denoted by radio buttons. Questions are listed down the side of the grid, with options listed across the top. Usually something like Strongly Agree through Strongly Disagree, or anything else on a likert-type scale.

Number: A numeric input field (either as textfield or select list). For questions that have numerical answers, you can choose to make a list of numbers to select from, or have the students type the number in a textfield.

Page Break: Add a page break if you want your form to have multiple pages for organization.

Select Options: Allows creation of checkboxes, radio buttons, or select menus. For multiple-choice type questions, you can choose radio buttons (only one option can be selected) or checkboxes (multiple boxes can be checked) or a drop down menu of choices to select from.

Text Area: A large text area for questions requiring longer responses.

Text Field: Basic textfield type. Usually for a fill in the blank or short answer type question.

Note: We will be devoting some time during the year to using this content type and will create a variety of tutorials to show their use.

 

How do I manage my students' personal information and passwords?

Policy: Young Writers Project believes that teachers should communicate in detail with parents about the use of the YWP digital classroom. It is a closed system, meaning only users with accounts can enter. No personal information – student name, address, age, etc. is kept on the site. YWP strongly urges schools to have usernames of ONLY Firstnames (last initials) which complies with Federal privacy guidelines. Since schools have signed up for this program, the school’s blanket permission form covers the use of the Schools Project site for educational purposes and, when relevant, the use of real email addresses on that site. With regard to the latter, YWP does not use these emails in any way; they are on the site to assist the teacher in communicating with her class via the site.

YWP has available a generic, full permission/policy form if any school wishes to use it.

Technical: Any time you see a student's name, you can click on the name to view a personal profile; all that’s visible is History and links to that user’s content. As a teacher, you have the ability to edit the user information – name, email address or password. (Students can edit their own email and password but not their name.) The password boxes are always empty, by the way. Security. Simply type in the new password and repeat, SAVE at bottom.

If you want to find a student in your classroom, go to the classroom and click Class Members.

If you want to search through the site users to find a specific user, hover over ADMINISTER in the top toolbar and click on Users. This brings you to a list of all of the users on the site that can be alphabetized by clicking the top of the left column. You can sort them alphabetically by name, or by the time they last logged in, or by the time when their account was created-- by clicking the column headings. Click edit beside the appropriate name if you wish to make changes.

 

How do I add an avatar to my account?

This is always a good way to determine which kid in your classroom is the most savvy: The first kids to upload an avatar, are probably pretty comfortable with technology. Everyone has the option to add an avatar to his/her account, simply by going to My Account (drop down menu off MY BLOG), clicking Edit and uploading a picture to the profile. You can browse your computer and upload any picture you have saved to serve as your avatar. It will resize to the proper thumbnail size.

 

How do I get optional features turned on?

YWP has two cool classroom features:

  1.  Classroom Discussion Board: This appears at the top of the classroom page only and is a kind of Facebook-like, 250-character discussion and comment board for you to talk about topics or the classroom-issues or whatever. YWP doesn’t automatically put it in because it’s a feature that needs some thought and direction before students before using.
  2.   Six-Word Short Story Widget: This is a fun widget in which students can post six-word stories (or longer if you wish). Lots of things can be done with this. This is not automatically enabled because students tend to use it as a chat space. Again, direction in advance helps.

IF you wish any of these features, contact Doug DeMaio: ddemaio@youngwritersproject.org (324-9538).

 

Who are these people?

Doug DeMaio is the Web support contact; he’ll provide any manner of technical help ranging from setting up classrooms to troubleshooting. Geoffrey Gevalt is YWP director. Susan Reid runs the Newspaper Series. Sarah Gliech handles administrative/billing questions. The Teacher Coaches are Kathy Folley, Cindy Faughnan, and Darce Abbene; between them they have almost 100 years of classroom experience and are technological innovators.