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Feb 01

A Widget Tour

When it comes to widgets, I am a minimalist. I like my blog to look clean, so I try to reflect that in my sidebar. The current theme I use has one right-hand side bar and a small menu at the bottom of the page. Here is what I include.

Right Sidebar

  1. Search Bar – I believe this is the most important widget on a blog, especially a class site. It helps your visitors find what they are looking for quickly.
  2. Calendar – hyperlinked with posts. This makes it easy for you to find a post from a specific day.
  3. Twitter – I have the official Twitter widget that includes my four most recent posts. I have chosen colors that blend well with the blog site. You can easily hop over to Twitter and follow along.
  4. Archive Drop Down – so you can find older posts by month and year.
  5. Blogroll – currently this lists my class site, The Space Tweep Society Blog, and another link to Twitter. It may be time to update the blogroll!
  6. Diigo Education Pioneer Badge – because it’s cool.
  7. Meta box – for logging in and an additional link to the RSS feeds.

Footer “Side”bar

  1. Recent comments – showing the five most recent comments.
  2. Science Links – only two links now, but I hope to add additional links to excellent science information. My current links both go to NASA sites. Are you surprised?
  3. Tags – in cloud form so most used tags are larger.

On my class blog, we have both a left and right sidebar.  I include the following information in those sidebars.

Left Sidebar

  1. Class Logo (embedded with an html text box)
  2. Quick Links – to previous class sites and school and county sites.
  3. Meta data

Right Sidebar

  1. Search box – once again for ease in finding class assignments.
  2. Joe’s moon phase widget – I love this widget because it shows the current moon phase. It makes it easier for my students to visualize moon phases when we reach our astronomy unit since they have seen this widget while visiting the class site.
  3. Category drop down – to help students find posts that relate to their particular class.
  4. Archive list – by month so students can jump to a particular month.
  5. Calendar – to jump to dates in the current month.

I know my use of widgets may seem a bit bling-less, but I’m partial to them that way. When things are too flashy, I find it distracting, and sometimes the widgets clutter up the sidebar for me. If you could only see my desk, you would see the irony in my view of minimal widgets!

What’s your favorite widget? Do you know of any other must-have science widgets?

12 comments

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  1. Theresa Allen

    Great widget tour! I like your footer sidebar – I wish I had that option! I teach technology at and elementary school in Joliet, IL. The 3rd graders will be learning about the planets and space – any suggestions to sites? Thanks!
    Theresa

    1. Janelle

      Thanks for stopping by, Theresa!

      The footer sidebar is an option in the particular theme I am using. It appears they are becoming slightly more popular with theme writers. You might find an option that incorporates it one day.

      Let me check my solar system and space links. I know I have lots of them to share. What other bodies in space will you be studying besides just the planets?

  2. Malyn

    You’re right about being minimalist. I’ve long since given up on trying be it in real or virtual spaces. One of my favourite widgets is the Tag cloud which I find really handy for accessing previous posts. I think the one in your class blog is awesome – it’s animated. How did you do that?

    I invite you to drop by my post for this activity to find out a bit more about my other favourite widgets (one is a blogroll) and my attempt to create a badge. Badges as Blog Bling.

    cheers,
    Malyn

    1. Janelle

      I am so not a minimalist off line. I find it almost comical how much I prefer it here. Perhaps it is because of the design aspect of it all.

      I am not sure about the tag cloud on the class site. Perhaps it was another blog you visited? I know I have a category drop down list.That’s just a setting in the widget.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Britt Gow

    Hi Janelle,
    Thanks again for participating in the Teacher’s Blogging Challenge and for commenting on my post. I know what you mean about distracting clutter and I am very impressed with your clean and well-organized site. Yes, I do teach Space science, but it is not my most favorite part of the course, like it is yours 🙂 I will refer back to your class blog when I teach space science this year with my Year 7 and 8 students.
    I noticed your post above about 1:1 with iPads and really like the comment you left. We are a 1:1 school with each student having a net book from Year 5 to Year 12. We are still building the skills and knowledge of teachers and students in the best way to manage these devices to improve learning outcomes, although we have achieved some success. It is a great privilege to be able to teach and learn with access to such technology, as well as IWB’s.
    Keep up the great work and best wishes for the year ahead!

    1. Janelle

      Hi, Britt!

      When you get to space science and you need any ideas, please let me know.

      Thanks for sharing your 1:1 experience. I admit; I’m a bit jealous! I have a feeling the iPads won’t pan out, but what discourages me the most about the discussion on that post is the negativity towards our students. To me, our students are capable of so many great things. I wish others could catch that vision. The nice thing about our PLN is that I know I am interacting with like minded people. 🙂

  4. Kevin Hodgson

    I like your reflection here, and I think the element of design does play into what we put on our sites, and where.
    Kevin

    1. Janelle

      Thanks, Kevin! I enjoyed reading your thoughts about the design as well. It sounds like we are on the same page.

  5. Kay McGriff

    I like the clean look of your blog. The widgets may follow that clean design but they each have a use. I love when form and function merge so well.

    1. Janelle

      Thanks, Kay! I definitely enjoy when form and function meet. Once again, it is a bit ironic since my offline life is a bit cluttered and disorganized!

  6. jane curry

    Thanks Janelle,
    Great widget tour, thanks,
    love reading it and gorgeous theme with colour -astronomical
    Jane

    1. Janelle

      Thanks for stopping by, Jane!

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