The 003 Blog (Fall 2006)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Goodbye and Good Luck

The semester is over! The students took the MEIPE (proficiency test) on Monday, met with their teachers yesterday and received their results, and came to the Final Ceremony in the Maryland Room in Marie Mount Hall this morning to celebrate their accomplishments and remember the high points of the semester, while looking forward to next semester, when some will return to MEI, some will study at UM, some will transfer to other schools, and some will return to their countries. All will have been changed by their semester studying with us.

As always, some students were delighted with their progress as measured by the MEIPE, while others were very disappointed. I would like to remind everyone that you all learned a lot this semester, whatever your score says.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lunch at Adele's

Amer, Nina, and Abdulaziz

Nazanin and Sunghye consider what to order

Cindy, Hyosung, and Jennifer

Jennifer and Essa

Today was the last day of our class. It's hard to believe the semester is really over. You have all worked hard and made progress. We are all tired and ready for a break!

Some of us celebrated the end of our shared adventure with a lunch at Adele's, Stamp Student Union's only full-service restaurant. Amer, Ozizo, Essa, Jennifer, Cindy, Nazanin, Hyosung and Sunghye were my luncheon companions. We took a long time to consider the menu. Some of our choices were more successful than others! But on the whole, it was fun. Afterwards, we enjoyed coffee together, courtesy of Karen V. Thanks, Karen!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


This week the students are taking their final achievement tests. These tests are supposed to show whether or not they have achieved the goals we set for them at the beginning of the semester. On Monday, they were tested in reading and handed in their writing portfolios; on Tuesday, they had a listening/speaking test and a discussion (for which I served as an evaluator); and today, they took a four-page grammar achievement test. I think everyone must be sick of tests! Tomorrow, we will have a short class at 11:00 in The Box and then we will go to Adele's (the Stamp Union restaurant) for lunch to celebrate the end of the semester. After lunch we will go to the Coffee Bar. Then goodbye until Monday, when we have the last test: the Maryland English Institute English Proficiency Test (MEIPE)!

Friday, December 01, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Tonight I watched An Inconvenient Truth, the movie about global warming by Al Gore. I missed seeing it when it was playing in theaters, and this was my first opportunity to see it. It really is an extraordinary film: very scary, very well-done. As I watched it, I thought how different the past 6 years would have been had Gore won the presidency in 2000. We would not be entangled in an unwinnable war in Iraq, and the planet would undoubtedly be in better shape than it is.

If you have not yet seen this movie, I urge you to see it as soon as possible!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Freedom of Speech

Walking across campus on my way to work this morning, I passed by Hornbake Mall, where an anti-abortion display was being mounted. Big orange signs that read
were posted on both sides of the display, which featured large gory photographs of dead fetuses on signs that said things like "This moral wrong should never be a constitutional right."

As I walked past the gruesome display, I thought about how lucky Americans are to have the right to free speech written into our Constitution's First Amendment (thanks to Thomas Jefferson, author of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights). In this particular case, I do not agree with the anti-abortionists, but what matters is that they have the right to express their opinion, and I have the right to express mine.

You can see the entire Bill of Rights at the U. S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs site.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm back!

Some of you may have noticed that The 003 Blog vanished for a few days. It has been a frustrating time as I tried to discover what went wrong and fix it. This morning at my weekly meeting with webhead friends at Tapped In, my friend Vance in the UAE suggested that I pick a new template. It worked like a charm! (If you are ever tempted to try this, be aware that by changing the template you will lose any template changes you have made, such as links in the sidebar. Be sure to save those and add them back in to the new template.)

See you tomorrow! :-)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. We in the United States have much to be thankful for: our beautiful country with its abundant resources, its strong economy, and its political system which gives us a voice in the decisions which affect us and protects our basic freedoms. Yes, we have many problems as well, and the solutions are not easy to find. Still, I am thankful for what I have (my family, my home, and my job) and feel lucky to have been born in the United States.

Most Americans (including the most recent Americans, immigrants) celebrate Thanksgiving by getting together with their families and eating too much! Many families also enjoy watching or playing football on this day. To learn more about this holiday, see the link to Wilstar's Thanksgiving page in the sidebar.

Enjoy your holiday (if you have one), and remember to appreciate all the good things in your life.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Korean "Pizza" recipe

Young gave me the recipe for that wonderful Korean "pizza" they served at the International Fair last week. Try it!

1 egg, beaten
9 oz. whole wheat flour
3 oz. water
vegetable oil
10 sliced mushrooms
8-10 shrimp (either fresh or frozen)
5-6 green onions, cut in 4-5 cm. pieces
crab sticks, cut in bite-size pieces
a pinch of salt

  • Mix the flour, water, and salt in a cup or small bowl.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet.
  • Spread most of the flour mixture in the skillet, reserving about 1/5 of it; cook over a low to medium flame.
  • Spread the mushrooms, shrimp, green onions, and crab stick pieces on top of the mixture and coat the top with the reserved flour mixture.
  • Spread the beaten egg over the top.
  • Cook 5-10 minutes until the bottom is nicely browned.
  • Flip over, using two spatulas. Try not to break it!
  • Brown the second side.
  • Cut into portions and enjoy! It's good with soy sauce.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The International Fair

This is International Week at the U. of Maryland, and MEI's contribution was an International Fair, put on this afternoon by our wonderful students. There were displays from nine countries: Saudi Arabia, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Cameroon, and Greece (I hope I remembered all of them!). Some of the displays were done by a single student: we have only one student from Japan, Cameroon, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Ecuador, and Greece (and two from Thailand) this semester, but these students still managed to create colorful, interesting, and/or delicious displays to represent their nations. Taiwan, Korea, and Saudi Arabia, with larger groups of students, went "all out". There was a lot of really yummy food and drink, so I spent most of the time eating. There was a Chinese clear noodle dish, Greek pita bread with tzatziki and stuffed grape leaves, and Korean "pizza" (like a seafood omelet, extremely delicious!). There was Korean corn "tea", Chinese bubble tea, and Arabian coffee. There were Arabian dates, Kazakh candies and sweets, and Chinese rice cakes. There was music from many countries, a slideshow showing pictures from many countries, brochures, maps, books, posters, pictures, and...people! A lot of people visited our fair from the university community, and I felt so proud of the wonderful job the students had done.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Home Schooling

In our reading/writing textbook, we have been reading about home schooling. This means that children are taught at home, by their parent(s), rather than being sent to a regular school. Today we were fortunate to be visited by Michelle C., who is home schooling her three children, ages 6, 9, and 11.

After a brief introduction to home schooling in general, most of the hour was devoted to Q&A. On Monday, the students had brainstormed the questions that they wanted to ask during a text chat at Tapped In. I made up a list of questions from the chatlog, and we practiced asking them in class yesterday and today. Practice makes perfect: every student asked at least one question, and most of the questions were grammatically correct and understandable.

We learned that not everyone home schools for the same reasons or in the same way. There are organizations, such as the Cedarbrook Academy, that support home schoolers with materials, field trips, support groups, and administrative work. There are many materials published especially for home schoolers to choose from. Children who are home schooled learn the same things as other children; they can receive certificates of school completion and even high school diplomas, and they are eligible to apply to universities.

Thanks to Michelle for her excellent presentation, and to Jeremy, Maureen, and Jason for being so well-behaved!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Yesterday was Election Day in the United States. Where I live, we voted for U.S. Senator, U. S. Representative, Governor, State Senator, State Delegates, State Attorney General, State Comptroller, County Executive and County Council, School Board, several judges, a few other offices I can't remember now, and four ballot questions. The ballot was four pages long!

The polls opened at 7 a.m. and I went to vote on my way to work. I had to wait in line for about 15 minutes, and it took about 5 minutes to cast my ballot. Of course, I had made all my decisions beforehand. I was given a little sticker to wear which said "I voted." I wore it proudly all day.

In the evening, I tried hard to stay awake to watch the returns, but I was too sleepy. When I got up this morning, I learned that the Democrats had retaken the U.S. House of Representatives and that most of the Maryland races had also been won by Democrats. :-)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The World Is Flat

Yesterday I attended a lecture by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times journalist and author of this year's First Year Book, The World Is Flat. It was really great! Friedman is a gifted writer, and he is also a dynamic speaker. He spoke for an hour without notes, and I never felt bored for a minute. He summarized the first part of the book, which I have already read. In the book, Friedman describes 10 things that have "flattened" the world:
  1. 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down (symbolizing the political opening of the formerly Communist countries) and the Windows operating system became popular (making personal computing easy)
  2. 1995, when Netscape, which invented the web browser as we know it, went public (prior to this, it was not very convenient to find information on the internet)
  3. work flow software, the "alphabet soup of computing" (html, http, TCP/IP, etc.) which makes it possible for different computers to communicate with each other seamlessly
  4. uploading, the phenomenon of free computer applications, shareware, community-developed software, open-source applications, Wikipedia ("the people's encyclopedia")
  5. outsourcing, using workers in other countries, like India or China, to do work that Americans used to do (such as customer service call centers)
  6. off-shoring, sending whole factories abroad
  7. supply-chaining, organizing the international manufacturing, transporting, and marketing of goods in the most efficient way
  8. insourcing, using contractors such as UPS to do work previously done by a company's own workers
  9. in-forming, the revolutionary websearch capacities of Google, Yahoo! and the like
  10. "the steroids": things that make it possible for us to work and play digitally anywhere and anytime: internet telephony, iPods, BlackBerry, wireless connectivity, fancy cell-phones, etc.
These ten "flatteners", together with new "horizontal" ways of doing things (business, education, journalism...) and the emergence of billions of people in the "Third World" who are now able to participate and compete, have changed our world in very fundamental ways. Friedman calls it "new players, on a new playing field, developing new habits and processes for horizontal collaboration."

I haven't finished the book yet, but hearing Friedman speak yesterday has inspired me to finish it!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween 2

We had lots of little (and a few big) trick-or-treaters at our house tonight!

Sunday, October 29, 2006


E.S.T. stands for Eastern Standard Time, which is what we returned to at 2 a.m. this morning when we turned our clocks back one hour. We got an extra hour of sleep today! We continue on EST until April, when we turn the clocks ahead again for Eastern Daylight Time (otherwise known as Daylight Savings Time).

Why, you may ask, do we confuse ourselves this way? I thought it is to enable children to walk to school (or wait at bus stops) in daylight, rather than in darkness. After googling "daylight savings time history" I learned that it is also a way to save energy, and that the idea first came from U.S. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. For more information, see the sidebar for a link to an interesting Daylight Savings site.

Enjoy your extra hour, and don't be late for class on Tuesday!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Tuesday is Halloween, the strange American holiday when children dress up in costume and go door to door begging for sweets. They are given candy, which they collect in plastic pumpkins, special bags, or (older children especially) pillow cases. You can read about the origins of Halloween by clicking on the Wilstar Halloween page link in the sidebar.

What are the "rules" for Trick or Treat? Well, parents take the little kids around, often in groups. Older kids go by themselves. When I was a child, we sometimes got homemade treats, like cookies, or little boxes of raisins, or apples. No more--not since some crazy people gave out apples with razor blades in them! Now, candy must be commercially wrapped. Some people prefer to give pencils or stickers, but most people give candy.

If you think that children will be trick-or-treating on your street, you can buy inexpensive candy by the bagful at any supermarket. Give each child a handful of small candies or 2-3 little chocolate bars. Be sure to get something you will want to eat yourself, in case there are leftovers!

The children usually start trick-or-treating around nightfall; the exact time depends on the neighborhood, but usually 6:30 or 7 p.m. If you want trick-or-treaters, turn on your outside light, and maybe, leave your door open (if it's safe). You might want to put a pumpkin (or a carved jack-o'-lantern) in front of your door, or hang some Halloween decorations (ghosts, goblins, witches, and jack o' lanterns are all traditional) to make your place look more inviting. (If you don't want trick-or-treaters, keep your door closed and your light out; that should discourage them.)

If you live in a neighborhood without many children, you are not likely to get trick-or-treaters no matter what you do.

If little kids come to your door, you should compliment them on their costumes or ask them what they are (a ghost? a princess? a witch? a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?). They will say, "Trick or treat!" That means that if you don't give them candy, they will play a trick on you. But don't worry: if you opened your door to them, you probably have candy to give them.

When you run out of candy, turn out your light; Halloween is over until next year.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fall Foliage

Different kinds of trees turn different colors in the fall. Hickory trees turn yellow.

Pumpkins are a symbol of fall. Some people carve jack o' lanterns for Halloween by cutting out a face on the pumpkin. I like to leave mine whole!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another Field Trip!

Today, the 003 and 004 classes, together with their teachers (Aaron, Harriet, and me), traveled to Washington, D.C. We first went to the Library of Congress, where we had a small tour of the Jefferson Building, which in my opinion is the most beautiful building in Washington. The docent who showed us around did a great job. He spoke loudly and clearly and did not use words that were too difficult. I think the students were impressed not only by the beauty of the Library's interior but also by the astonishing statistics, such as that the Library owns materials in 450 different languages and acquires new items at a rate of 10,000 per day!

Following our tour, we gave everyone half an hour to explore on their own. I went to the American Treasures exhibit. It was interesting; I need more time to go back and see more. At about 11:45, we took the metro to the National Building Museum. I wanted the 003s to see the Green House exhibit. We had read about it in class, and I hope they found it interesting.

At 1:00, a few students returned to College Park with Aaron, and the rest went with Harriet and me to H Street (Chinatown), where we all had lunch at Full Key Chinese restaurant; and then we returned to UM.

Goodbye to Fifty Nifty Turtles

Yesterday, the Fifty Nifty Turtles of the Fear the Turtle Sculpture Project were paraded through the campus and put on display at the Riggs Alumni Center prior to today's auction, where they were to be sold to the highest bidder(s). After class, I walked over to bid farewell to the statues that have given me such pleasure since they first appeared on campus in mid-April. Some of the students came with me. It was fun to see all the statues together for the first time. Of course, I took pictures:

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Field Trip

Despite the rainy forecast, today turned out to be a beautiful day for our trip to Harpers Ferry. I met the group at the park (unfortunately, I got lost in Frederick, so I was a little late.) and we split into groups for the scavenger hunt. We had to go to different places--such as the Provost Marshal's office, the Dry Goods Store, the John Brown Museum, and Jefferson Rock--and find the answers to some questions. For example, "On what date did John Brown attack the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry?" (October 16, 1859--almost exactly 137 years ago) and "What was John Brown's goal?" (to seize the Armory and the Arsenal and use the captured weapons to begin freeing the slaves) We didn't find the answers to all of the questions, but we answered many of them.

My group consisted of about twelve students. We stayed together (sort of) and had a good time. Everybody took pictures of everybody else. We went beyond Jefferson Rock as far as the cemetery, where we saw gravestones which were so old that we couldn't read the inscriptions on them (as well as some new ones). Some of us walked across the railroad bridge to the Maryland side of the Potomac, but we did not have enough time to hike up to Maryland Heights, because the students had to be back at the Visitors' Center by 2:30 to take the bus back to College Park. Anyway, I think everyone had a good time. I know I did!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ready for the Field Trip

Tomorrow, we will go on a field trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, so today we learned a little about this tiny restored town. We read a short reading about the history of Harpers Ferry. It was founded by Robert Harper; he was a millwright and had a ferry boat which took people across the river and back. Later, the United States arsenal (armory) was located there, and there was a lot of industry. In particular, weapons were manufactured there, using the water power from the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, which converge at Harpers Ferry).

The abolitionist John Brown took over the arsenal in 1859. He was captured and hanged for this crime. During the Civil War (1861-65), Harpers Ferry fell under the control of both the Union and Confederate armies at different times, and both armies burned its factories. It never recovered economically from this destruction, which was followed by devastating floods in the late 1800s.

Today, Harpers Ferry has been restored so that many of the buildings look as they did in the 19th century, and it has become a National Park. We are hoping that the weather will be nice so that we can make the most of this opportunity to visit it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A new link

Did you know that our classmate Nazanin is a painter? I have added a link on the sidebar to the blog where she has posted pictures of some of her paintings. I am sure you will enjoy a visit to Nazanin's gallery of art!

A Fine Fall Day

I took a walk today with my husband and daughter--just around our Gaithersburg neighborhood, West Riding. I took my first pictures with my brand-new digital camera (purchased just last week!). Here they are:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

003 Update

It's the middle of the fourth week of class. How are you doing? What have you been learning in your classes? What have you seen and done so far? What has happened since our class began?

Write a post for your blog that gives an update of your American experience. Use the verb forms that we studied in class.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Terps beat Blue Devils 1-0

On Friday, the UM Terrapins played arch-rival Duke University at Ludwig Field. I don't think soccer games are usually so well-attended, but this one was different--maybe because it was the same time as the Stamp Union All-Niter, or maybe just because it was Duke. Anyway, if you tried to attend the game and couldn't get a ticket, I am sorry.

I had gotten my tickets earlier in the afternoon, so my husband and I were at the game. However, there were so many people that we couldn't park near Ludwig Field; we had to go all the way back to Holzapfel! As a result, we missed seeing the goal, which happened early in the game. When we finally got in, there weren't any seats at all. People were standing on the grassy hills behind the bleachers. We finally found a place to stand and then sit on the steps of some bleachers.

Some of you won't believe this, but this was the first soccer game I had ever watched! It was really exciting--lots of action! Both teams played well, but no one scored again, although the Terps almost got another goal (it was offside, I think). The atmosphere was electric; the crowd got really excited!

There were many parents with small children there. These kids are the new soccer-loving generation of Americans. Soccer has never been very popular here compared to football, basketball, and baseball, but recently it has been gaining in popularity. I think most of those kids play soccer in PE (Physical Education) or after school. When they grow up, they will continue to play and watch soccer, making it more popular. Maybe someday, there will be a soccer stadium at UM as big as the football stadium!

Did any of you see the game? (It was also on TV.) Did anyone go to the All-Niter?

Today is October 1. I wish you all a good month! I'll see you on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Two New Students in 003

Our class now numbers 14. Abdulaziz Al-Arwan from Saudi Arabia and Nazanin Khavari from Iran have joined us. Welcome to both of them! Now I have to add them to the slideshow I posted on September 13.

The class is going well. The students are now working comfortably with the SRA materials. They are advancing quickly through the Rate Builder levels and somewhat more slowly through the Power Builder levels. We have almost finished Part 1 in our grammar textbook and will have a test on all the present and past verb tenses next week. The students have already submitted their first writing assignment--a paragraph comparing the lives of writer Frank McCourt and jazz singer Diane Schuur--and have already been assigned their second composition, a biographical narrative. Everyone is coming to class, participating, and doing the work. What more could I ask?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Security Seminar

This afternoon, Officer Rich Pena-Ariet of the campus police came to talk to the students about staying safe, and keeping their belongings safe. He advised them to always keep track of their belongings--never to leave them unattended, when they might be stolen. He told them about the escort service on campus, which they can call if they feel uncomfortable walking alone, especially at night. He advised them to keep their doors locked at all times--not only when they are out, but also when they are at home. I remember a student of mine who told me that his television had been stolen from his apartment while he and his roommates were sleeping. Since they were home, they hadn't locked the door, and a thief just walked in and took the TV! They were lucky the thief did not do worse. It's terrible that we have to warn our students about crime, but it is better to warn them than to have them become victims of crime. A lot of the students asked him questions about drivers' licenses.

After the security seminar, we walked to our class in the Armory. As of next week, all classes that are not in the lab will have to meet in the Armory because we are losing our nice big bright classrooms in Holzapfel! :-( We are all sorry about that because our classroom in ARM, while it isn't a bad place, has no windows, so it is kind of depressing. I fantasize about painting a window on the white wall. Unfortunately, I doubt that the University would approve.

Jennifer and I got free Kertle posters at the Document Services office today. If Jennifer hadn't come to the afternoon class with her poster, I would have forgotten to go there! Thanks, Jennifer.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Walk Around Clopper Lake (Gaithersburg, MD)

Today is the first day of fall! My husband and I hiked around Clopper Lake in the state park near our house. The hike took two hours. It was a pleasant, cool day, but not very sunny. We saw lots of wild animals, such as Canada Geese, Whitetail Deer, a Great Blue Heron, and even a Red Fox! (I was not fast enough to get a picture of the fox.) Although we did not see any beavers, we saw some trees which beavers had felled with their sharp yellow teeth. (If you don't know what a beaver is, Google "beaver" (image).)

I took some pictures of plants, too. Milkweed is the favorite food of the Monarch butterfly, which migrates from the Eastern U.S. all the way to Mexico! Poison ivy is a vine which is common in the Eastern U.S. and which most people are extremely allergic to. If you touch it, you can develop a painful, itchy rash. I took some pictures of it so that you can learn to recognize and avoid it.

To play the slideshow, click on "Play (single arrow)." To advance to the next picture manually, press the double arrow. To see the album on the Bubbleshare site (larger), click on it or on the words "this album."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

William's Class Blog 2006: Otago Polytechnic School of Languages

William's Class Blog 2006: Otago Polytechnic School of Languages

This is a link to an intermediate ESL class in New Zealand. The students are from several different countries, and most of them seem to be immigrants (that is, they plan to stay in New Zealand). Your task is to look at their blogs and choose several (two or three) to comment on. Im your comment, include the url (web address) of your own blog so that William's students can visit it and comment.

Happy blogging!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lunch at Stamp Union

Today we all went to the Student Union for lunch together (well, almost all!). I showed the students the Food Coop, but most of them chose to eat elsewhere (they wanted meat!). I love the Coop because the food is healthy, cheap, and good, and because it reminds me of my own student days! Mercia, Amer, Cindy, Jennifer, Hyosung, and I found a place to eat together. Mohammed showed up just in time for the picture!

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hello from the Eastern Shore!

This weekend, I am visiting my sister and her husband at their beautiful home on Maryland's Eastern Shore. I drove here yesterday with my daughter. The drive takes about two hours from my home in Gaithersburg. We passed College Park and took Route 50 east, past Annapolis and over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. My sister's house is on a large creek which flows into the Tred Avon River, which flows into the Choptank River, which flows into the Bay. As I sit here typing, I can look out over the peaceful water of Tarr Creek. It is very beautiful!

I have been reading your blogs and your comments on each other's blogs. It is nice to read the supportive comments you have left for each other! But many of you have not left comments yet. I hope you will do this before you come to class tomorrow.

Friday, September 15, 2006

My Impressions of Week One

Today is Friday, and we have already had six classes. I think things have gone well. We have lost one student and gained two. At the moment, we have twelve in the class, which is my favorite number for a class. That's because it is easy to have students work in pairs or in groups of three, four, or six students.

We managed to do everything I had planned for the first six classes. We had a balance of reading, writing, and grammar. We have had our first quiz and have started working on Power Builders and Rate Builders in our Reading Lab box. All the students have their textbooks, and we have begun working in them. I have also introduced the concepts of SQR, A.P.P.L.E., the writing process, sentence elements, and sentence types. These concepts will continue to be very important for us all semester.

Finally, every student has created a blog (although a couple of the links are still not working yet), and they have learned how to create and edit a post, leave a comment, and upload a photo.

It has been a very productive week!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

003 Student Slide Show

Here's a little slideshow I created using Bubbleshare. To see your classmates' names, move your cursor over the pictures.

It's easy to create albums and slideshows to post on your blog. I will teach you how very soon.