Feedback, Feedback, I’m Lookin’ for Feedback

TWRCtank Logo

TWRCtank Logo



Well, I am much happier with the appearance of my blog today. I managed to insert a logo and a lot of widgets. Before setting up the blog, I looked at many other blogs to see what I liked and did not like. I have managed to insert most of the things I liked (I think). However, I wonder if it is too many.

I had a difficult time finding a theme I liked, but I finally “settled” on this one by www.heatmaptheme.com. After playing around with it a lot these past few days, I have to say I found it pretty easy to use and I want to thank them publicly for letting me use it for free. What would make me like it even better is if it had a column on the very left and if it had more of a literacy feel.

What made me really love the theme is the ability to add links on the sidebar and include a description of the link. I have the option to hide the description, but it will still appear if you hover over the link. I might change it to the latter because it makes the page really long to scroll through the way it is set up now. One thing I don’t like is that the search box does not search the links or the link categories. I am hoping that these link categories (and links) will be very helpful to those looking for help in a specific area of teaching reading. I can also rate the links and display that publicly. I did this in the beginning, but then realized I was giving most of them 10s, so I don’t think it would be that helpful.

Eventually I will write posts about the links. Underneath each post, readers can rate each post. I hope they will actually rate the link on a scale of 1 to 10. I can add another line for the posts to be rated on a 5 star posting system. Perhaps I will do that. I really do like feedback–good or constructive, but especially specific.

I’m not sure how happy I am with my blog name. However, since the address is www.TWRCtank.com, I felt I needed “TWRCtank” in the name. I wonder what you think. I also wonder about including the word “tank” in my name as it can have negative connotations; however I am using it as in “think tank” which I consider a very positive thing.

Oh, another thing I really like about the theme is that it has wide bars on the side. It seems that many of the blogs I look at seem kind of disorganized. Being a pretty persnickety person, I think the look of my sidebars seem pretty clean and organized. However, I wish I knew how to center some of the widgets.

I am on my knees right now (in my head) begging you for some feedback. What kinds of things am I wondering?

  1. What do you think of the overall appearance?
  2. What do you think of my name and logo?
  3. Was it easy for you to navigate through the site?
  4. Are there any widgets (things) on the side that you would remove?
  5. Are there any widgets (things) on the side that you really like?
  6. What Internet browser are you using and how does it look? I know it looks different in several of them. The title of my blog is, “TWRCtank: Teaching Reading Resources & TWRcs by Julie Niles Petersen.” On some of the browsers I checked, some of the text did not display.
  7. Did you try to comment? Was it difficult to do so? (I ask this because there have been several times where I did not leave a comment on a blog because I could not figure out how or it just seemed like too much work.)
  8. Do you like the comment rating system and sharing system I chose or do you think there is a better one?
  9. What do you think about these pages: About, Find Me On, Polls, TWRC with Julie, and Disclosures+? Too much? Not enough? Something else?
  10. Do you think I’m too wordy?
  11. Did you have trouble with anything?
  12. What do you like the most? Why?
  13. What do you like the least? Why?
  14. Do you have any helpful hints for me?
  15. Did it take a long time for your computer to load this blog?

  16. I know I asked for a lot–especially if you are not familiar with reading blogs. Feel free to answer selectively. On the other hand, if you would like to reply to all of my questions, I will be forever grateful. :D

    Thank you so much for reading and I look forward to your feedback.

    Happy TWRCing!

    P.S. After I publish this post and get the TWRCtank up live, I will go sing karaoke to celebrate that it is live. I have comments set up to be moderated meaning I must approve them before they appear. I may change this in the future. My point? If I was home right after I published it, I know I would be checking it every minute for new comments. I think it will be very good that I will be unable to do so even though I am extremely eager to hear your TWRCs!

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  • http://www.LDExperience.ca/ Kathryn Burke

    Julie:
    Congratulations on starting your blog. We stared ours 6 months ago, and it has been a fascinating ride. The details, like appearance, widgits, etc work themselves out as you go along. I am looking forward to reading about your information for teachers. It is really unfortunate how pre-service education for teachers does not address some of the basics for kids with reading problems. All the best with this initiative.

  • thebookmaven

    Julie,
    Congratulations on getting the blog up and running. I recently started blogging also so I know the time, effort, and trepidation that has gone in to getting this up live! The blog loaded quickly on my computer. I love the name…good idea to explain what it stands for. I think the thing I like the most is your categories on the right side. Could they be higher up on your page though? I had to scroll down a lot to find them. Also, could you offer Google as a login option?

    I had to laugh when I read the end of your post about checking every minute for comments! I do the same thing after I add a new post! ;) I will have to try your karaoke idea! ;)

  • tenteacher

    Julie,
    Congratulations on your blog! I really like the overall look and the name logo. That will help us Twitters to conect the site with you. The blog loaded very quickly as is easy to navigate. I haven't started blogging yet so I think that you're very brave.

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  • http://twitter.com/FaizaK FaizaK

    Congratulation Julie, this is absolutely fabulous :) Way to go!!
    So well actually my first suggestion is that you can think about creating a google spreadsheet and embed/link that here with all your questions. It will be much easier for the visitors to respond to your questions. Secondly, I would suggest that you create two categories for the About section. One should be 'About Me' and the other 'About TWRCtank' explaining what it is all about. I would say this is really important as a new visitor would like to find easily what this site is all about.
    I would definitely love to give you a detailed feedback but it would just take up too much space here. Will email you or maybe I will wait for a Google form/spreadsheet :)
    Congratulations again!
    Faiza

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Kathryn:
    Thank you! I am also disappointed in the way pre-service teachers are prepared to teach reading. I only had to take one course in teaching reading to earn my teaching credential and I felt very unprepared when I began. I think it might be up to two courses in California now and pre-service teachers have to take the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) in order to get their credential. That is an improvement, but still not enough. Thanks again for your support, Kathryn!

    For my readers, here is a link to Kathryn's blog: http://www.ldexperience.ca/

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Susan,

    Thanks for all the feedback. I wanted to explain “TWRCs” by including (thoughts, wonders, reflections & connections” in the title, but it would not fit in the heading area, so I took it out. I also want to be sure people read it by rhyming it with “work.” Maybe I'll put a standard sentence at the top of each post like I did on the “TWRC w/ Julie” page. I am considering moving the categories up and the clustrmaps, flag counter, and live traffic feed down. What I really like about them being higher is that the title line says, “I'm So Glad You're Here! :D”–because I really am! Also, I always love looking at these widgets on other people's blogs. I think it's fascinating (and a bit scary). I love the geography lesson side of it, too. As to Google being a login option, I think I have it added now. Please let me know if it still doesn't work so I can try again. I'm sure the option is here somewhere.

    I am not sure I have read your blog before and it's not included in your Twitter profile. Would you like to share its address? I would love to check it out and leave you a comment–especially when I know you will be checking it every minute like I was. ;) Leaving the house to sing karaoke seemed to work. Let me know how it goes for you. ;)

    P.S. It is a relief to know it loads quickly.

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Kathy,
    Thanks for the congratulations and the feedback. Twitter is such a great tool for educators, isn't it? If you ever choose to start blogging, I hope I will be there when you announce that it's live. So many of my Twitter peeps (including you) really made it such a positive, exciting and very memorable experience! Thank you!!

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Faiza,

    Thank you so much for your support and your great suggestions. I really love the one about inserting the Google spreadsheet. I have seen several Google spreadsheets, but have not yet created one. I am very good with Excel, so I bet it can't be too hard. Perhaps I'll work on that later this week–especially knowing that if I do you will give me more detailed feedback. :D It really is a great idea! I also like your recommendation about the About section. That should be a pretty simple fix and I am adding it to my to do list.

    Thanks again for all of your suggestions and your continuous support.

    Julie

    For my readers: In case you don't know, Faiza is the founder of http://www.VocabAhead.com which I have listed in the vocabulary section. It really is a remarkable site.

  • Anonymous

    I think I already posted a comment Julie, but when I clicked to go ahead and register I hope it didn’t delete the post I did as a guest. Oops! If this comes through after the other comment, feel free to reject it as I am just explaining my confusion ;-) Congrats again~

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    I just realized that if I click on the name of some of the people who have commented here (yours included), I am taken to the URL of their choice. Nice!

  • http://www.recycleyourreads.com/ Reading Countess

    Julie,
    Your blog looks great! It didn't take long to load, and it is full of useful information. I like the widgets on the sides and the indepth information one can find there. The various social networking sites you are a member of will be useful. Since this is the first time I have commented, I am not sure if it will be challenging, but I know what you mean about the difficulty of posting on some blogs. Great job!

  • joanyoungflourishingkids

    Julie,
    I think your blog looks absolutely awesome! and is filled with very useful information. I think Faiza has a great idea for using the google spreadsheet to get answers for all of your great questions.
    One thing I think would help is somehow elaborating on what the TWRCtank means directly in the title. I know you are limited for space but maybe something like: Think Wonder Reflect & Connect as we Teach Reading or as we share reading resources.. Whenever I see the TWRC I have to go back and look at what it stands for; it's a great acronym though not a snap for me to remember instantaneously and I think it's important for it to stand out! ( maybe I am just a bit slow ;-) )
    I like all the widgets etc; wondering if the subscribe by email one is necessary with all the subscribe choices directly below it. I just get a bit swamped when there is a lot visually to process. I like one idea that someone mentioned to put the visitor stuff higher up since you have to scroll way down to see it. Maybe some of the categories on the right could be combined or abbreviated so that it doesn't feel as overwhelming. Again, it could just be me who likes a less busy page so that I can see what's there!
    Once again, I am thrilled for you that you have taken the plunge and look forward to all that you share. You have inspired me to work a bit on my blog to make sure it's useful for others.
    Thanks for being so open to feedback as well; another way you have inspired me!

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Tess,

    Thank you so much for the specific feedback. After reading it, I asked my husband to try to post a comment–he does not read blogs so it was a great test. Overall, he also said it was easy. One thing we both found a bit confusing was that when you click on “___ comments”, it loads the comment page, but it brings you to the beginning of the post so it almost looks like nothing happened. However, he scrolled down and successfully found the comment section.

    I watched over his shoulder as he did it and it was so great to see what it will look like to others reading this blog who want to comment. He posted his comment and clicked on “post as guest.” Then he got a pop-up asking for his name. He entered that and got a pop-up asking for his email. This pop-up did not clearly state that his email address would NOT be published. Hmmm… I'll have to see what I can do to change that. He said he probably would not have entered his email address because he dislikes the spam that is usually associated with doing this and I am sure he is not alone in his thinking.

    Overall, it looked like the process was relatively easy on Disqus compared to other commenting systems I have used. Since I do not recall ever seeing this commenting process before, I must not have commented on any blogs that use Disqus. Speaking of Disqus… another thing I like about it is that all the comments you write on the Internet when you log in through that system are saved. Often I leave comments and then never get any follow-up. Oh, I also noticed there was a tick box to follow all comments by email. I LOVE that option and always check it when I comment on other people's blogs.

    I wonder what you think of the 10 star rating system. I know I have not seen this very often (if ever) on the blogs I read. I know there are times when I read great posts and would love to comment, but do not have the time. I usually email the post to myself with the subject, “Need to comment,” but I don't always get back to them. I know there are different thoughts out there about leaving comments such as “Great post.” Personally, I know I would love more specific feedback, but I absolutely understand time constraints, hesitations about writing on the Internet, and/or not really being able to think of anything else to say that would extend the conversation. So, if “great post” is all they have time for (and they mean it), I absolutely welcome it. I think the star rating system is similar–it's not specific, but it is some feedback. I do worry about spammers rating all my posts as 1s just for their entertainment. I guess I'll just have to give it time and see how it goes.

    You're very welcome about the kind (and honest) comment on your blog. You are a very talented writer and your content is very interesting and passionate. I am guessing there are many people in our club, “Comment Checking Fiends!” :)

    Thanks again for your time Tess!

    Julie

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Tess,

    Thank you so much for the feedback. I love social networking sites for teachers. It is so great to be able to connect with people all over the globe who share my passion for teaching reading and education in general. Good point about not knowing if it was difficult to comment since this was your first time commenting. When I first started commenting on blogs, several of them required me to have specific commenting accounts or IDs (which I did not have) or they required me to become a member. Since it takes precious time to read the post and then formulate and write a response, I do not want to ask for more time by requiring them to register for the site or to sign up for a commenting system.

    I am still thinking about the commenting system I have chosen (Disqus). I really like the threaded aspect, the overall look, and some other things. However, I really wanted to use CommentLuv. I don't know if you have seen that system, but I really like that it posts a link to the blog or website of the person who so kindly takes the time to comment. Apparently, these two plugins do not work together. I have been trying to post a link to the blogs of the people who are commenting here. I don't know if I should be doing this without their permission. What do you think?

    Thanks again, Tess!

    *Here is a link to the fabulous blog by the Reading Countess: http://blogs.katyisd.org/talfonsin/ (I so enjoy reading your posts!)

  • http://www.recycleyourreads.com/ Reading Countess

    Julie, it was easy to comment, though at first confusing. It asked if I wanted to register or be a guest. I chose guest since it was less time consuming. After that, it was a snap. Thanks for the kind comment about my blog! At times you feel like you are really exposing yourself, so I know what you mean about checking for comments like a fiend.

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Joan,

    Thank you! Yes, Faiza does have a great idea and I'm so glad she shared. I was thinking about it a lot last night and how else I could use Google docs in this blog. I really hadn't considered it before and the possibilities of what I could do with them fascinate me.

    What great suggestions you have shared with me about my title. Thank you! I am really liking the first one, “Think, Wonder, Reflect & Connect as We Teach Reading.” What do you think about if I used that and then put this line at the top of each post: “TWRC” rhymes with “work” and stands for think, wonder, reflect and connect?” I remember when someone on Twitter said something like, “I can never remember her Twitter ID (TWRCtankcom.)” You are both right. Not everyone will remember it, or know how to pronounce it.

    By the way, it is so nice to hear that you think the acronym is great! I must say, I am a big fan of it myself. :D I love hearing students say, “I'm here to work hard & TWRC hard, Mrs. Petersen!” It is music to my ears! It is also great to be able to say “Were you really TWRCing while you read the part you did not understand?” in response to when students say, “I didn't get this.” (They usually admit they weren't.) I believe that “TWRC” is a great acronym/mnemonic for what good readers do while they read and I have found that struggling readers often need to be reminded to TWRC and they also need to be shown how to do so.

    I agree there are too many subscribe widgets, but I'm not sure how to delete some of them. I will definitely work on that. As to the visitor stuff… were you talking about the maps, flags, etc? I originally had it higher because I wanted the title “I'm So Glad You're Here! :D” to be above the fold (before you have to scroll down)–because I am! I find these widgets fascinating, but a bit unnecessary, so I moved them down. Do you think they should be back at the top? I am on the fence on this one.

    I also changed the title of one of the widgets to “External Link Categories” because I kept referring to it as “the link categories,” but after looking again, I realized “link categories” wasn't clear. (I don't remember what it used to say). For each link, I have the option to make my description of the link always visible and/or on mouse hover. Originally, I had it set up to do both. The downside of this choice is that it means much more scrolling. I changed it yesterday to show the description on mouse hover only. I'm still on the fence about that one, too.

    I think what is making the link categories even more overwhelming is that some of the links are posted into multiple categories. I am definitely still TWRCing hard about what to do there. It would be great to hear what others think about this, too. I doubt you are alone! :) Since I think the external links might be a highlight of this blog, I want to be sure they are user friendly. One reason I have chosen so many categories is because I think there might be people who visit this blog looking for information on a specific topic, such as “fluency.” I want them to be able to quickly find everything I have posted about that category. The sad thing is that if they type “fluency” into the search box, the external links will not show up. Two categories that probably could be combined are “Decoding by Analogy” & “Decoding/Phonics.” The reason I separated them is because I am passionate about decoding by analogy and it is not always mentioned when people talk about decoding. I will think about combining categories some more.

    Thank you, Joan, for all of your time today… and since I found you on Twitter. Your passion for teaching and wanting all kids to flourish is inspiring! In your post you mention I have inspired you! That is hard to believe, but so awesome at the same time!!!!!! Thank you! You made my day!

    Julie

    *Here is a link to one of Joan's very inspiring blogs: http://www.allkidscanflourish.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Your comment was not lost. Yay! Sadly, I bet this will happen to others. Maybe your comment will help assure them that it won't be lost after all–that is if they read it before they post! ;)

    Thank you again, Joan!

  • Lisa

    Hi Julie,

    Congratulations on getting this up and running! I've never done any blogging or even commented on blogs. So, this is for you! I can only imagine how much time and effort you put into this from my past experiences with you and writing papers together at Chapman! So, I want to say ahead of time that these are only suggestions and I don't want people to think I'm beeing picky. I know you wanted feedback so I'm just offereing you my thoughts, but I really do think this is going to be a fantastic resource that I will use and refer others to in the future.

    I haven't had the time to go through every link you have, but I love what I have seen so far. I'm glad you did this because just a month or so ago I was searching the internet for help for my students with reading comprehension, and now I feel like I have a one-stop shop to come to when I have questions. I read some of the comments others posted, but I couldn't read them all. So, I apologize if some of the suggestions I have have already been mentioned.

    As for the appearance, I LOVE the map and visitors box! One of my daughters happened to be sitting with me when I opened it the first time and that is what her eyes were drawn to. I don't do Twitter or Facebook so the Live Traffic Feed was just confusing to me and I would have rather seen the External Links Categories there. I think you should change the External Links title to a larger font so it doesn't get lost in the rest of the categories. Also, I don't know if you could do this, but since you repeat many of the same links in your different categories, is there a way to change their color once you have visited them like when you're surfing the internet?

    I like your name because it is different from other acronyms I've heard. I read one of your posted comments where someone thought you should put the meaning of TWRC in the title. I noticed it is in the picture on the left, but I would have liked each word color coded to the corresponding letter so I had a better visual of it and could remember it better. Your page would also look great with a little more color or decoration at the top, but I know you said you are working on that.

    It was very easy to navigate through your site and it didn't take long to load at all. All of the wording was there. Leaving a comment so far seems pretty easy although the same thing happened to me as did to Michael where I had to scroll down to find where to comment and at first I thought nothing had happened.

    I liked one of your friend's ideas to split up About Me and About TWRC. I also thought the title TWRC with Julie should say something about contacting you because at first glance I didn't realize that was what that was for. People like me, who don't usually like to leave comments, may feel more comfortable e-mailing you. I think it would especially be helpful to people who have specific questions knowing they could ask you and you could refer them to the right information.

    I loved the You Tube Video Teaching Content is Teaching Reading! That was my favorite link so far. I also am going to check out Jen's Book Page because I am always looking for new books to read to my class and I love children's literature. By the way, if you haven't read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo you need to! I also love that you have a link to storyline online! That is a favorite website of mine both for school and home. Phase Craze was very helpful as well.

    I hope that helps. I hope I answered most of your questions. I subscribed to your page so I'm looking forward to keeping up with it as it grows and develops. Great Job and good luck with your new endeavor!

  • Kathryn Bartle Angus

    Julie,
    This is an exciting endeavor! I look forward to sharing your blog with current graduate students in reading. I’m sure that students in a graduate program and/or teachers with a desire to be reflective practioners will find your thoughts on research of great interest.
    Best wishes as you chart this new territory!

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Hi Lisa!

    I want to start by saying how truly appreciative I am of the all the time you have taken to give me so much feedback–especially since you do not normally read blogs, let alone comment on them! You have made me feel *very* special indeed! :D I also want to say your specificity reminded me of how thankful I was to go through the teaching credential program with you. You had such wisdom for such a young woman and you are a true TWRCr. :D I really feel blessed to have you in my life. Thank you so much for your very kind words and for your words of encouragement. They really mean a lot coming from you.

    As to your feedback… you know me so well! You have given me exactly the kind of feedback for which I was looking–not picky, just specific. :)

    Although it is a very lofty goal, I do hope my blog (or forthcoming website) will eventually become a “one-stop shop” for literacy. The idea for it was born out of my love for the travel forum site: http://www.tripadvisor.com . That was my first real experience participating in a forum. It amazed my how people all over the world could help me plan my travels. I thought to myself, “Wouldn't it be great if there was a forum for teaching reading?” I searched and searched, but I could not find any that were as active as TripAdvisor. Things are changing now and I find that forums for teachers are popping up all the time. However, these forums and other resources for teaching reading are scattered all over the Internet. I know time is precious, so I hope I can help pull together some of the best resources for teaching reading to save others the time. Working on this blog combines two of my greatest passions: teaching reading and research.

    I'm glad you and one of your beautiful daughters loved the map and visitor's box. I can definitely see how the Live Traffic Feed can be confusing, but it is fascinating at the same time. It is also very large. I would like it better if it only showed maybe the five most current visitors, but I think it comes standard this way. Perhaps I will move it to the bottom of the page as you suggested.

    I am not very good with HTML and changing things if they do not have pre-built options. Unfortunately, changing the font and colors of the titles do not have options. I would love “External Link Categories” to stand out, too. As to changing the color on the links once you have clicked on them… I do not see an option for this either, but I would LOVE it! I don't think I have seen a blog with this capability either and I am not sure why–it *is* such a helpful feature. Once I get into more of a routine, I think I will make a separate (and probably short) post for each external link I include. Maybe your email subscription to my posts will help you keep track of which ones you have read. I will stay on the lookout for this feature and if anyone else knows how to add it, I do hope they will share. :)

    I am so glad you love the acronym “TWRC.” I agree that it would be great to color-code the letters to their representative words. I created this logo with The Logo Maker by Laughingbird Software and tried to make it color-coded, but couldn't figure out how. I have considered having a professional redesign it eventually. Until then, I am actually impressed by what I could make without having strong graphic design skills. (Thank you, Laughingbird Software!) If you choose to use the acronym “TWRC” in your classroom, I think you (and your students) will soon remember what it represents and that it is a great mnemonic (memory aid) for what good readers do while they read. I kept the acronym and each of the four words on my whiteboard for the whole year so that I could always point to it in reference. I hope to make a classroom poster that teachers can use for this purpose.

    I agree that the page would look better with more color and decoration. Sadly, I do not have any options to change it easily. Yes, you are right, I am still working on it. :)

    It is great to know that it was easy to navigate–especially from one who does not normally read blogs. I know it took me quite a while to get used to how blogs work (they all seem to work pretty much the same way). I am also glad to hear that it loaded quickly. I know that the more widgets (things on the side) you add, the longer it takes to load.

    Thanks for the feedback on trying to comment. I really hope this site will be very interactive so I don't want to create any extra work for people who want to comment. I watched one of my sisters try to leave a comment. She does not read blogs either. The first thing she did was click on the large “Comments” button at the top with the big blue icon. After I steered her away from that, she did not have a problem. I can understand her initial confusion by that button. It took me a long time to figure out what those icons mean. All three of the large buttons at the top (Posts, Comments, and Email Subscriptions) are ways to subscribe to my RSS feed. I know many people don't know what that means, so I eventually want to put something up there that explains what RSS is and why you should subscribe. One thing I have learned about the commenting system I chose (or the blog–I'm not sure which is responsible) is that commenting on the posts looks different depending on whether you are on the home page or on a specific post. If you are on the home page, you have to click on the “__ comments” hyperlink. Once you do that, it looks like nothing really happened until you scroll down to find the comment box (as you & Michael both noticed). It is much easier to comment if you are on a specific post because the comment box is directly under the post. There are many different commenting systems out there. Overall, I think I am happy with this one especially since the three of you non-blog readers were able to comment rather easily. I would love to know what people who regularly comment on blogs think is the best commenting system out there and why.

    I will work on the “About Me” page soon because I agree with you & Faiza–it should be separated into “About Me” and “About the Blog.” (Do be sure to check out her website: http://vocabahead.com/ if you haven't already).

    I originally titled the “TWRC with Julie” page, “Ask Julie.” Then, I realized that many people would wonder what “TWRC” meant, so I purposely put it in the page's title and mentioned what it meant on the top of that page. However, now that I will include the line “'TWRC' rhymes with 'work' and stands for think, wonder, reflect and connect” on each post, I can change that page's name back to “Ask Julie.” On the other hand, I really want to encourage others to TWRC with me and I think “Ask Julie” sounds like it is all about me. However, these are some great points you made: “People like me, who don't usually like to leave comments, may feel more comfortable emailing you. I think it would especially be helpful to people who have specific questions knowing they could ask you and you could refer them to the right information.” OK… I've decided. I will change it to “Ask Julie” and hope that people will use it as a place to ask me questions in private or to TWRC together as a group in public. Perhaps I will write a post about my hopes for that page in the future. Thank you, Lisa!

    The YouTube video “Teaching Content is Teaching Reading!” is one of the best videos about teaching reading that I have found so far. I'm glad you liked it! Jen's Book Page is a great blog. (http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/) I am not sure if any of the blog recommendations mention “Teach with Picture Books” by Keith Schoch. I highly recommend it: http://teachwithpicturebooks.blogspot.com/ (He has other great blogs to check out, too).

    I have not yet read “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Kate DiCamillo. I have read her “The Tale of Despereaux (loved it) and just finished “Because of Winn-Dixie” (loved it, too!). I will have to read her new book soon. Thanks for the recommendation!

    I remember when I discovered Storyline Online via Twitter. I was completely blown away! What a great website! “Phrase Craze” is such a simple, but very powerful article. I do hope people will read it and that it really makes them TWRC. Good phrasing is so important to helping the brain understand what is read or spoken.

    Lisa, your feedback *definitely* helped (and made me TWRC). I am forever grateful! It was SO nice to hear from you. I hope you enjoy your subscription to my posts and I thank you so much for your well wishes. You are the best!

    P.S. I hope you decide to join Facebook and Twitter soon. They are amazing tools for educators.

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Kathi,

    Thank you so much for the well wishes and for sharing my blog with your students. I really appreciate it! It will be so great to connect with those who are going through the master's program in reading at my alma mater!

    I also want to thank you for your continued support of the Orange County Reading Association over the years. You are a true ambassador of literacy!

  • joanyoungflourishingkids

    Hi Julie,
    I am sorry it took a couple days to get back to this reply. I am thrilled that so many others are offering you great suggestions. I am glad you liked the name I suggested and yes, you could always put the “what the twrc” stands for on each entry. So many decisions, right? You explained the category dilemma well; I have no idea about all of that as my blog is quite simple and not so sophisticated! But now that you have raised the bar, I will surely be editing and evaluating my blog in the near future.
    I wish you the best on this endeavor. You have so many fans already!

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Lisa,

    I just ran across this video interview of Kate DiCamillo in my email and thought of you. It is from the Reading Rockets website: http://ow.ly/1pmbE

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Joan,
    No worries! It's not like you *have* to respond back–but I sure do appreciate it! :) I am thrilled with all the constructive feedback, too. I think it will take a while to change the name because I know I will have to change it in feed names and other things, but I *really* do like your suggestion. Yes, there are many decisions, but it is fun for the most part. Thank you so much for your kind words and for helping to make the launch such a positive and exciting experience. I look forward to hearing about any changes you make to your blogs. You also have many fans!

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Joan,

    I just wanted to let you know that I tried your great title suggestion, but it was too long. So what have I decided? Well, originally I included my name in the title on the suggestion of several people. (I actually put it in the tagline). However, being so limited in space, I decided to take it out. Now, the title is “Resources for Teaching Reading” and the tagline is: “Think, Wonder, Reflect, Connect & Refine.” (I'm on the fence about including “refine.”)

    I've been checking Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer & MSN Explorer to see what the site looked like. The original title did not look very good in either of the Explorer browsers. This new title looks pretty good in all of them and I like that it displays as “Think, Wonder, Reflect, Connect & Refine…” when multiple browser windows are open. It used to display as “by Julie Niles Petersen…” which would not be clear to those who do not know me. It also displays the same way in the Feedjit Live Traffic Feed widget making that look much better, too! Perhaps this new display will help people remember the acronym, “TWRC”.

    What do you think?

  • thebookmaven

    Hi Julie,
    Here is the link to my blog. Because of family stuff I haven't written for the past three weeks but am planning on getting some posts up over the weekend. I would love feedback also!

  • thebookmaven
  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Hi BookMaven,

    I just checked out your blog. I am now following it through Google Connect (although I'm still not really sure what that means) and I also subscribed to your RSS post & comment feed.

    Here are my thoughts: I think it looks very clean. I like all your categories and will check out your resources when I have some more time. I also like your purple links.
    Is the commenting system you use standard on Blogger? This is one of the systems I spoke of in my post. Until a few weeks ago, I did not have any of the accounts I was forced to choose in order to comment, so I would not have been able to post a comment on your blog unless I went through a sign up process. By the way, did Google show up for you on mine? I know you asked for it and I thought I added it, but I'm not sure.

    Have you considered having the icons to subscribe to your feed at the top? I know that is where I generally look for them. Also, I see that you have share buttons down on the bottom right. Have you considered having them underneath each post? What about adding some Twitter widgets–a “Follow Me” or a scrolling list of your last few tweets? My tweet scroll only shows up on the “Find Me On” page. (I have my Twitter Favorites RSS in the sidebar). I will change my tweet scroll soon so that the @ replies do not show.

    Overall, I think it looks great (and resourceful, too)! It is great to know that I am not the only blogging newbie out there. :)

    P.S. At first I was using people's names to reply in the comments if I knew them. Then I thought it might be confusing for readers when the display name is different. So, I decided that from now on I will use their display name. But, I am going to keep my eye out to see how others handle this.

  • thebookmaven

    I think the comment system is standard with eBlogger but am not sure. I had already thought about the fact that people wanting to comment would have to go through the process of signing up. I am going to look into the possibility of other options. I will move the subscribe feature to the top…great suggestion. I had waited on adding twitter and facebook until I added more posts. I feel like I am still trying to find my 'voice' or niche…and life keeps getting in the way!

    I really appreciate the constructive feedback you offered…thank you for taking the time…and for following! I am looking forward to our Spring Break next week when I can spend more time with the blog.

    I am enjoying your posts btw! Keep up the great work…I think I have found another kindred spirit! :)

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    I know how much I appreciate feedback, so I am very happy to pay it forward. It is so great to meet fellow educators who are just beginning to blog. I read so many beautifully written blogs that I find it a bit intimidating. (My vocabulary and grammar needs much work). However, it is so exciting, too!

    Enjoy your break and I look forward to watching your blog (and your voice) progress. As for me, I am still unsure of what or when to post. I'm sure it will all work itself out for both of us as we move forward.

    P.S. It looks like you registered for the Disqus commenting system, but did not click on an email asking you to confirm your email address. Once you confirm your email address and add your blog's URL, your name/avatar should become clickable, taking my readers to your blog. Just a thought. :)

  • thebookmaven

    Thanks Julie! I just confirmed the email address so should be all set. So
    many profiles to keep track of!

    I agree…so good to connect with someone else just starting out in the
    blogging world. A friend of mine who has been blogging for awhile told me
    that I should try to post at least 3-5 times a week. I haven't made that
    yet…but am going to use vacation to get some post ready to go…so I can
    maybe get ahead! I know…wishful thinking! :)

    Best regards,
    Susan

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Susan,

    You show up as registered and by clicking on your avatar, I can read all the comments you have written using Disqus, but your name is not clickable. I am guessing you did not enter the URL of your blog into your Disqus profile. Perhaps you are waiting on that?

    Have a fabulous vacation and happy posting, commenting, & TWRCing! You can do it and I look forward to reading your posts. :)