Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why Have a Classroom Site

The first couple of years that I used computers with my students it was a mess. Sharing resources and collecting digital assignments was painful to say the least. I didn't realize how much of a train wreck it was until I learned there were different tools out there they would help me get organized. Wikis and learning how to create hyperlinks transformed how I managed my classroom and organized my workflow.
Wikis are just a basic websites that many (or as few as one) people can edit. (Although only one person can edit any given page at once.)  There are different brands of wikis, but in our district we will be using Google Sites. We are going with Sites because we are a Google Apps for Education district. Everything that is created using the suite of Google Apps is easily uploaded into Sites. Eventually Gering students will be using Sites to create their digital ePortfolio so it is incredibly important that all teachers are well-versed in how to edit them.
The look and feel of each teacher site in Gering will be similar as long as the templates for the elementary and the junior high and high school are used. The consistent colors and layout will not only help us as we begin to establish our brand, it will help students as they navigate between their different classes. As you begin to work on your site you will realize that some of the pages will remain static. Pages like your contact page, schedule, and syllabus might only need to be updates once during the year. Other pages such as the links, resources and projects might need daily attention. I have some tips to share for how to do this in a matter of seconds so please schedule some time with me in the coming weeks.
By creating hyperlinks to digital resources and incorporating Google Docs in the mix you will be able to manage information in ways that you might never have imagined possible. It will take some time to learn the ins and outs of how to use Sites, but it will not take long to realize how incredibly important it is to maintain one for your class. Let me help you set this up soon so you aren’t stuck later on. Think of your Site as the communication hub for your classroom. Nearly everything you need to share with students and their parents can be shared on your classroom Site.
Use the Site to:
  • share your class calendar
  • maintain a running list of basic lesson plans
  • house video tutorials
  • form to collect information from parents who want to help with class activities/parties
  • post the class supply list
  • link to your syllabus, school handbook, other important documents,
  • provide a list of acceptable uses of time once students are finished with their work
  • share apps that students (and parents) can download that are related to your subject
  • feature a “student of the week”
  • share pictures or videos of students working on projects in your class (parents love this!)
  • list of websites that students can go to for extra help
  • share a list of student blogs or portfolios
These are just a few ways to use a classroom webpage. What are some other ways?

Here is a tutorial that will walk you through how to set up a Site using a template from the Gering Schools template gallery.

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