Ed Tech

Say no to sidebars! (customize your WordPress pages)

custom drink

Typically, I blog about educational technology that the average teacher can understand. This, however, is some heavy lifting.

Here is an advanced trick for WordPress users. This is how I removed the sidebar from one specific page (titled forum) on my wordpress site. After much searching, I found that I needed to implement conditional formatting using php.

Here’s my problem:
I wanted one single wordpress page to not have a sidebar. I wanted it to take up the entire width of the page. Makes sense for a forum, right? Not so easy…

In the wordpress dashboard, navigate to Appearance > Editor > page.php.
On page.php, I changed:

[sourcecode language=”plain” light=”true”]<?php get_sidebar();; ?>[/sourcecode]


[sourcecode language=”plain” light=”true”]<?php if(!is_page(‘Forum’)) get_sidebar();; ?>[/sourcecode]

Here’s what that means:
Typically, wp displays the sidebar. That’s what we usually want. In this case, the exclamation point means “if it is not”. So, the php translation is, “If it’s not the Forum page, then show the sidebar.”

Perfect, so far. However, there was a blank space where the sidebar used to be. Another problem. The forum should be wider. This won’t happen, though, because my stylesheet says the page can only be 510 pixels wide.

So, I went to my stylesheet and created a div titled #widecolumn with a width of 100%.

Back on page.php, I changed the original div titled #contentleft to:

[sourcecode language=”plain”]<?php if(!is_page(‘Forum’)) { ?>
<div id="contentleft">
<?php } else { ?>
<div id="widecolumn">
<?php } ?>[/sourcecode]

Again, with the php translation: “If it’s not the Forum page, use the div #contentleft (with a width of 510 px). If it is the Forum page, use the #widecolumn div that you just made (with a width of 100%).


Technology ideas for K-2 teachers

Technology ideas for K-2 teachers

first photoUpper grade teachers can do so many cool technology projects with their upper grade students. Often, K-2 teachers (and their students) get left out of the super fun educational technology projects. Here are a few ideas to get you started as the new school year begins.

Typing Practice

Typing isn’t the most exciting skill to teach, but it’s one of the few things upper grade teachers want kids to be good at (on the computer). This site makes typing fun, and has many different levels.

Kid Pix

Every K-2 students loves Kid Pix. Lessons could be free choice (make something cool), guided practice (here’s what the stamp tool does), or give them an assignment (make an AAB pattern using frogs and flies). Kid Pix is also a great reward if a student finishes an assignment early.


Tumblebooks is like an interactive narrated book online. It’s perfect for beginning (or non-)readers. It is a paid subscription to access it, but there are plenty of small libraries (like the Oakland Library) that offer access to Tumblebooks through their own public library site.

Basic Computer Skills

K-2 students need to learn basic skills like copy and paste. I like to teach them the shortcuts (command+c to copy). A fun lesson could be to draw something/anything in Kid Pix, copy the picture, paste it into Word, type your name, and print. Those are many, many skills, especially for a kindergartner, but it makes for several great computer lab lessons.


example at http://www.billselak.com/pt/archives/category/group-1
I’ve podcasted with students as young as second graders. The above link is for 20 podcasts from second graders. During summer school, they researched an aspect of life in Italy, wrote a script, and recorded it. They chose photos for a slideshow, and I put it all together. There are much simpler versions of this–students can read a story they write, or sing a song they’re practicing for a winter performance. For kinder kids, they could count, say their ABCs, or describe a photo. As long as you publish it, it’s a podcast!

I hope that helps. Please add your thoughts and ideas in the comments.