Something hit me today while thinking about all the little WordPress functions that I never use when writing an entry or creating a category.
If I create a category called “classes” and then create a category called “period 4” with “classes” as a parent category, “period 4” exists within “classes”; “period 4” is a sub-set of “classes.” I should be able to set up www.mysite.com/classes to be a list of all the periods I teach, that is, the child categories. A student goes to that site, clicks on her period number, and is taken to a page with a list of all the students in that pariod, listed by either first name only or ID number; probably first name since I’ll need to use the list to contact students and I’m not in the habit of memorizing which ID number matches which student. Call me crazy!
Behind the scenes, the set up is that I create a post for each student and list a “Post Password” of their ID number (or something else if that’s too public). A trusted student aide can do this first thing at the beginning of the year. It wouldn’t be much harder than typing in names and ID numbers into my gradebook. Now, for that student who has clicked on her period number and is looking at a list of all students in that period, she clicks on her name and is taken to an entry page that asks for her password.
After the password is entered, the page content that I write to that student is available. I can use this as an online evaluation method because writing extensive comments on a paper takes much longer than typing (and I can just cut and paste the common suggestions and include links for more help). No need to create a new entry for each essay, I’d just add to the existing entry so we have a running thread of all the evaluations of their essays throughout the year(s). That could be cool! I’ve wanted students to keep track of the comments I write on their papers, to categorize the kinds of errors they repeatedly make, and this might be an easier way to do it than some paper form they keep in their binder and update with each paper handed back. This might be a way to gather the comments made on all their papers in every class.
This could then turn into a conversation we have online and I can monitor that conversation from my email since new comments posted to the site will be delivered to my inbox. Gone would be the days of, “Oh, I threw my other draft away, did you need it?” because all the comments would be captured on the site.
With the enrichment reading assignment (PDF) I’ve worked on, I’ve thought of turning their reading journals into blogs instead of a notebook that they frequently forget to turn in or forget to bring to school. So they all get Blogspots to post their entries each week and we use my www.mysite.com/classes page as a place to get their evaluation feedback. Now I’ve got a page with essay comments and with journal feedback. We can separate the evaluations (essays and journals) by using the main blog content area for one and comments for the other.
The problems are with the WP software: a password protected post is available to the public on that computer once the password is typed in. There’s a cookie or something that hides and keeps the password alive. I’ve deleted all offline content and all cookies and I *still* see the password protected content. So, until there’s a logout option, this doesn’t work well.
As an admin to the blog, I’d like to have a way to be above typing in passwords. If I’m going to be responding to 150 students on a blog, having to make it through the login screen for each one of those adds a lot of time. If I was already logged in, I could just get to posting my comment.
Maybe I can do this through the admin panel. admin > Manage > Comments: if I just edit the comment, I could make my text all bold or something to it’s obvious where my comments start.