Gone are the days of presenting your lesson plan examples, coursework, and teaching philosophy in a binder. Let me show you how to setup a WordPress site to keep all this information online, where you can share it anytime with just a link to your site.
Step 1 – Create a WordPress.com Site
Go to WordPress.com and click the “Get Started” button in the top right corner. If you already have a WordPress.com account then click the “Log In” button and switch to these instructions for creating a new site with an existing WordPress.com account.
This will take you to a page to create your new site titled “Let’s create a site.” Fill in the information asked for by the form.
Continue to step 2, “Let’s give your site an address.”
Type in a site URL name you want to use. If that is available as a free WordPress.com domain it will be the first choice that says “Free.” A free site appends “wordpress.com” to the end of the site URL. So if you decided to call your site “christinateaches2017” then the URL to get to your site will be “christinateaches2017.wordpress.com.”
If the name you choose is not available then WordPress will try to give you one that is. This means it might suggest “christinateaches235891134” for your free WordPress.com URL.
You also have the option to buy a domain on this screen. This option is apart of a paid plan with WordPress. Learn more about Free vs. Paid WordPress.com accounts.
Decide if you are going to use a free or paid plan and click the select link on that option to continue to step 3, “Pick a plan that’s right for you.”
On this step you will pick one more time what plan you want to use. If you selected to use the free WordPress.com URL then you will see an option for the “Free” plan and three other paid plans. If you selected one of the paid URLs then you will see the three paid plan options. Learn more about Free vs. Paid WordPress.com accounts.
For now we are going to continue with the free plan. Click “Start with Free” to continue to step 4, “Create an account.” Plans can be changed later within the WordPress admin.
On step 4 you will create a WordPress.com account. Enter in your email, username, and password you would like to use, then click continue.
Congratulations! Your site is live.
Click “View my site” to continue building your site.
Step 2 – Update Your Settings
If you are viewing the site that you just built then click the “My Site” link in the top left corner. If you had to go run an errand and eat lunch and then come back to your site then type in your URL. If you do not see the “My Site” link at the top then you have been logged out. That’s ok. Just go to WordPress.com and click the “Sign In” button. This will take you to your WordPress.com admin. Go ahead and click the “My Site” link in the top left corner.
Both of these ways will give you a sidebar menu. If you are coming from your URL then it will show over your site. If you are coming in from the WordPress.com sign in then you will see it on a stats page. Both are ok.
Click on the menu item “Settings” at the bottom. Here you can change the visibility of your site, set the time zone, and update your site name/tagline.
Make sure you click the “Save Settings” button if you make any changes.
Step 3 – Change Your Theme
First off, you do not have to change your theme if you like what was installed with your site. But let’s explore that page anyway.
In the menu on the side (click “My Sites” if you do not see the menu), click “Themes.”
My install uses the theme “Independent Publisher 2” as the theme. You can see that across the top of the Themes page. As you can see there are lots of choices. You can do a search for themes and pick out one that you think will work best for your needs. For this site I want to use one that has a feature image. Do a search for “Twenty Eleven.” Click the three little dots and choose the option to “Activate.”
After the theme is activated it will take you to your site, with the new theme installed, and a Customization window. You can aways get back to this customization window by clicking the button “Customize” next to the theme link in the “My Site” menu.
Step 4 – Set Up Pages – Home
While we have the customization window up let’s make a few changes. Click on the “Homepage Settings” at the bottom of the menu. Change the option for the homepage to “A Static Page.” We do not want to use the blog feature at this time. Changing this to a static page will allow us to create a welcome page for our homepage.
When you select “A Static Page” you will get options to choose which page you want to be your homepage. My theme did not include an extra page for the homepage so in this case I am going to add a new page.
Click the “+ Add New Page” link under the Homepage dropdown. Type “Home” into the field and click “Add.” A new page called “Home” was just created.
Click the “Publish” button at the top of the customization window and then the “X” icon to close the window.
If you are following along this should have taken you back to the themes page. If it did not then just click the “My Site” link to get back to the menu.
In the menu click the “Site Pages” link. Here you will see a list of all the pages in your site. Click the three dot menu on the row for “Home” (the page you just created), and select “Edit.”
Editing pages in WordPress uses a WYSIWYG (pronounced “wizzy wig”) editor. This means “What You See Is What You Get.” Similar to typing in Word you have a toolbar across the top with more options when you click the three dots on the right side. Find out more detailed information about the WYSIWYG editor here.
Type your name and any other information you would like on your homepage here. Play around with the alignment, font colors, font weight/styles. You can add pictures by clicking the “Add” button in the toolbar. This is your homepage, make it what you want it to be. You might also want to include a teaching philosophy or mission statement. Once you are happy with what is on your homepage click the “Update” button in the top right corner.
Click the “Close” button in the top left corner to exit the Homepage.
Step 5 – Adding New Pages
For my site I want to have the following pages set up:
- Coursework and Reflections
- Lesson Plan Portfolio
- Mission Statement
- Teaching Philosophy
So I am going to need to add some more pages. When I closed my homepage it took me back to the “Site Pages” page. If you did not go back to that page then click “My Sites” and then “Site Pages” to return to the same screen.
Next to the menu item of “Site Pages” is an “Add” button. Click this to add a new page. Type in your new title for the page. I am going to start with “Coursework and Reflections” and add a new page for each on my list. Each new page will follow the same steps, starting with the “Add” button.
After you have added the title, add your content for the page and click the “Publish” button in the top right corner.
If you are adding pages one after the other you can use the link that WordPress provides you to “add another” page. If you need to leave and grab lunch and come back then just navigate to the “My Site” menu and click the “Add” button next to “Site Pages.” Repeat as necessary.
Step 6 – Organization
Now that I have setup my site, added pages, and created my homepage, it is time to put the final touches on.
First let’s take a look a the menu.
In the “My Site” menu click the “Customize” button next to “Themes”. This menu is the same one we used earlier to set the homepage. This time we are going to work with the menu.
Find “Menu” on the Customization menu and click to view the “Primary menu.” The menu you will be editing is the menu seen in the black bar under the feature image. You can add pages (or remove pages) for your menu here.
Click the “Add Items” button to open a secondary menu that shows all your pages. Click the “+” next to each page you want to add. It will turn into a checkmark once it has been added. If you accidentally add a page you didn’t want to add or clicked it twice then click the red “X” button next to the page name.
If there are other sites you want to add to your menu you can do this by clicking the “Custom Links” on the secondary menu (right above where you added the pages). Type in the full URL for the page you want to link to and the menu title you want to show. You can use this for things like a link to LinkedIn or other professional profiles you would like to share. Make sure to click the “Add to Menu” button after each custom link you add.
When done adding pages, click the “Add Items” button again to close the secondary menu.
Now, take a look at the order of your menu items. You can click and drag the menu items in the order you want them to appear in your menu. If you drag a menu item and it insets that means you have made it appear to be a subpage of the menu item below. If you do this by accident then just drag it again a little to the left and it should un-indent.
The menu for these theme will get taller as more and more items are added if it forces the menu items to go on to a second line. Just be aware if you do not like the way that looks then you might have to make some adjustments to your page titles.
You can override the page title by clicking the menu item and changing the “Navigation label.” This will not change the title you have on the page but it will change the title in the menu.
Once you have completed adding pages and organizing your menu click the “Publish” button at the top of the customization window.
Step 7 – Final touches
As you may or may not have noticed the feature images on each page are changing every time you go to the page. If you like this feature then you can skip this section. If you want to change or set new images for each page then continue to follow along.
If you are continuing from the steps above click the arrow to back up in the customization menu until you get back to the main menu. If you are coming back to edit your feature images from taking a nap then navigate to the “My Site” menu then click the “Customize” button next to “Themes.” Click the “Header Images” link.
As you can see my headers are set to Randomize. If I click on of the specific images it will set that ONE image to that page. I am going to select the flower header image for my homepage. If you like another image or want to upload your own image you can do so on this window. The image will automatically update in the preview to the right.
Select an image and then click “Publish.” This has now set the feature image for all pages in your site.
Now let’s say you want to change the images for each page so they all have different images. To do this you will need to go edit each page. Remember how to get there? Here’s a hint: My Site. (Make sure you close the customization window first)
Once you are in the edit page view you will see “Feature Image” in the menu on the right. Click the “Set feature image” button under Feature Image.
Here you can drag and drop new images or click the “W” (for WordPress) icon and select free photo library. This will allow you to search a site called Pexels for a free stock image to use.
Select the photo you want to use and click the “Set feature image” button. This will add a image above the title of your page. You can click the image to edit or change it. WordPress has an image editor that lets you rotate and crop images right in the browser. Once you have the image the way you like it click the “Done” button and then the “Update” button on the edit page view.
You can view your page and see how it looks. Changing the feature image is something you can always come back and change at any time, as many times as you want.
Images and Media
You can insert images (other than the feature image) and media (like PDFs) into your page by clicking on “+Add” button in the toolbar. This will give you a choice to add images from your desktop (Insert Media), Google Drive, or Stock photography. You can find out more information about adding photos to your page by visiting the WordPress Basics section on Images.
Colors, Colors, Colors
Here is the last thing you can do to truly make the site uniquely your own. Navigate to the Customization window. Here’s a neat trick, if you are logged in and viewing your site you should see a floating menu at the bottom right of your window. The choices will be “Customize, Edit, Stats”. These are quick links to these options. Clicking “Customize” will open the customization window. Clicking “Edit” will open the edit page for the page you are on.
Open the customization window and click “Colors & Backgrounds.”
For this theme we can set the background color to a solid color or an image. For my site I want to change the gray background to a green color. I like one of the preset colors that WordPress provided me so I choose that one. If you do not like any of those colors you can click the “Pick your own color” link and select your own color to use for the background.
Another way to change the colors on your site is my clicking the “Palette” button. Here you can choose from preset choices of color palettes. This option will change out the menu and header color as well.
After taking a look I decide I liked one of the palette choices the best and I selected that option. After you select a palette you can go back and change the background color or image while keeping the menu and header color the colors from the palette you selected.
Click “Publish” when you have decided what colors you want to change to save your changes.
If you want to change the fonts for your site to something other than the standard san-serif set up with this theme you can do so in the customization menu. Click “Fonts” to select a different font for the header and base font for your site. You can also adjust the font size here too.
Click “Publish” when you have made your font changes and have previewed them in the preview on the right.
Step 8 – Share your site and keep it updated
The last step is to pat yourself on the back! You did it! You created a site that you can use for years to come. Update it as often as you need to and share it with your teachers, instructors, friends, family, and even a prospective job.
Remember WordPress is meant to be easy. There are lots of things you can do if you want to add more stuff to your site but for now you have created a very clean and well thought out website to share.
If you want to know about other things you can do to elevate your site click here.