As the new school year gets closer to beginning, I have set out on a task to offer more technological opportunities for my students. I teach in a rather rural area, so some of my students have limited internet access. However, every year the accessibility increases, so I thought this year would be a good year to get started and take a trial run. I know, for some of you this seems very late in coming, but I still believe there are many teachers out there who have not created classroom websites for a multitude of reasons: not enough time, many web site providers charge high fees, or the technology is too difficult.
I have spent a few days this week creating a website using google sites. (Feel free to check it out at http://sites.google.com/site/khsmdwalls ). Please keep in mind this is still a work in progress. Surprisingly, this free site set-up program is rather user friendly. I am able to create pages for each of my classes and can link notes or calendars to those pages. I can also create pages for the clubs I sponsor. The program offers an area where students can make comments . . . great for an online discussion board. The left navigation bar can be personalized for the highest level of convenience!
I plan on including my website information on my class syllabus that I give out the first day of school. I am also going to take my classes into the computer lab one day during the first two weeks of school to have a “scavenger hunt” of my website. This will allow them to become familiar with the site and with the linked websites that they may be able to use for help from home! I think this will ultimately enhance what I am doing in the classroom by allowing parents to check on assignments, by allowing students to obtain notes even when they are absent, and by allowing other teachers within my department to see the progress my classes are making.
If you are a classroom teacher who has yet to take this leap into technology, this year may be a great year to start. I am certain there are other options out there as well for free, user-friendly web-sites, this was just the one I have experienced. If you are intimidated, find a student who can help you (yes, I did say a student—most of them have way more experience with this type of technology than we do!). The way I see it, my students have nothing to lose and everything to gain by having another tool available to them and their parents. Why not give it a try!