Your Classroom Website October 30 2009
The Challenge of it All - Do I Have Time?
Creating and then maintaining a classroom website can seem like a daunting task. Let's be honest about this. Businesses actually hire website developers to create and up-date websites for their businesses. How in the world can a teacher be expected to do all the assessments, develop differentiated instruction for each student, communicate effectively with parents, keep the classroom clean, correct all the papers, keep up on all the professional development course requirement and many other things we do, like write every child's name on treat bags for the holidays? Okay, I'll stop now, but I could go on and on. Being a teacher is a huge job, and creating a website can seem like more work. Well, at first it is. However, there are ways in which it can cut back on your work load once it's established. I've got some ideas I'd love to share with you.
When I taught kindergarten and 2nd grade I felt these pressures and I understand what many teachers are experiencing. Well, the truth is that technology can actually help with some of this. Yes. Initially, it takes more time, but once the process is streamlined we can actually save time by using technology in our classroom. Classroom websites are an excellent way to help with communication (students and parents). By the way, the parents and students can be recruited to help up-date some of the pages, too. It's important to give specific directions with this. Maybe a parent can copy and paste the newsletter for the month you typed and put it in on the website. Or you can save it as a PDF file and they can up-load it for you. I didn't do it this way, but some teachers might find it useful.
How Can Having a Classroom Website Help You:
- You need to find a volunteer for a project or field trip. Send out a quick e-mail to all of the parents or post it on the website. If a note was sent home, you would have to wait until the next morning for a response. So, you have just saved time.
- Student and parent access to homework is available 24-hours a day. Cuts down on phone calls about homework.
- Student and parent access to field trip forms and scheduled events 24-hours a day. This can also cut down on miscommunication and lost forms.
- Using the website as a tool for learning. I loved to put links to educational games, which were extensions of what we were learning in the classroom. Many games differentiate the instruction because they keep score and progress to the next level as the student improves.
- A quick reference for links to use during computer lab time. Having a list of links on the classroom website can be a time saver when at the computer lab. The students just book mark the classroom website and go to the games you have listed. This is extremely helpful when there is a substitute teacher, too.
- On-line tests - There are tools now available which allow teachers to develop tests on-line and post them on their classroom websites. These tests are then scored for you. Thus, saving you time!
How Do I Make a Simple Website?
Seriously, don't even think about creating an HTML site from scratch! This is supposed to save you time. There are so many useful "What You See Is What You Get" tools now-a-days. To save time, there are many options. You can use a blog or create a website. When I think of blogs, I usually see some type of news feed with the most recent information first. When I think of a website I often think of visiting a site that looks the same and has pages listed along the sides, top or in different boxes on the page. The pages change, but the main page usually stays the same. You can see examples of websites/blogs teachers have created on this page. Please let us know if you would like to be added to this list.
As you can see, Ms. Jasztal, Mrs. Russ, Ms. Powell and a third grade teacher (un-named) have very different websites. Some include photos of the students using Shutterfly (as in Ms. Jasztal's) class, and some do not. Of course, a permission slip from parents is required before posting photos of the students. Each of these sites are excellent examples, and were possibly created using different programs. The good news is, you can choose to spend as much time on this as you want to. I tended to use the simplest means available to me, yet allowed the most options.
Top 3 Suggestions for Creating a Teacher Website
I loved www.teacherweb.com. I loved it so much that for a Developing Internet Based Instruction course I took at U.C. Berkeley extension, I developed an on-line course explaining how to make a simple website using Teacher Web. Here's an example of a great looking page using teacher web. There are many different options specifically designed for teachers, college instructors, librarians and school nurses.
As you can see, the on-line course, (which is still being developed and is actually designed for child care providers), is a simple step-by-step on-line video tutorial. Please note that I have not started teaching the course yet, but I plan to soon. Even though I developed this for child care providers, Teacher Web is most commonly used by classroom teachers. So, please feel free to use the site as a tool to take you through the process of creating your own website without actually taking my course.
Teaching Resource Center is not affiliated with Teacher Web. I've personally found that Teacher Web is simple, easy and useful. When I signed-up for the page it was free for one month and then there was a small fee for the entire year. When you explore the site you'll see what the current rates are. It's easy to quickly up-date pages. They also have an awesome library of graphics. For example, I used the animated frog graphic to hop across the page during the spring when my class was doing this science/writers' workshop lesson.
Another option is to use a blog, like https://www.blogger.com/start. As you can see, the third grade teacher uses her blog to give parents up-to-date, useful information about her instruction and classroom calendar. If you prefer, you can keep your name off of the page and not post any pictures to keep confidentiality. That way, only the parents in your classroom will know that this is your website.
Wordpressis easy to use. I did a quick search to find a teacher website. Look what I found! As you can see, this teacher is really making good use of the "finding volunteer" time saver suggestion I listed above under "Ways Having a Clasroom Website Can Help You".
Your Experiences and Websites
If you would like to have your website listed on our site, feel free to let us know, and share your website ideas in the comments, too.