Student-created websites




OVERVIEW


All students should be able to design and build a website by the time they graduate from high school. A good starting point for this essential skill is Google Sites. Google Sites is essentially a wiki, meaning that it is an easy-to-edit platform that multiple people can contribute to at the same time. This makes it the perfect platform for collaborative student projects and creating a shared classroom resource, where every student contributes content to one or more pages and then uses the entire site as a resource for independent learning.

SCAFFOLDING

Even if you have no web development experience yourself, I can help you get started with Google Sites in your classroom. For the two projects below, I created the sites and the basic outlines for each page, then students added content to their pages. This approach takes some of the more technical work off your plate and lets you get right to the content. 

EXAMPLES

U.S. States Project at BMS

Instead of doing an old-fashioned paper report on a state this year, Cathy Sartor's 5th graders added a page to a class website promoting their state as the top tourism destination to their classmates. After adding text, maps, images, and links to their page, students viewed each others' pages, then voted (in a Google Form) for the state they wanted to visit the most. See the video below for Cathy's perspective on this project and some students' thoughts as well.

Click here to visit their website.




Geography/English Project at BHS


Click here to view the student-created web pages.
This year BHS sophomores collaborated to create a website comparing and contrasting Nigeria's Igbo culture then and now, as the read the novel Things Fall Apart. Students worked in small groups in their Geography and English classes, guided by teachers Michelle Collins, Tanis Pettit, and Alexis Wagner.

After completing their own page on their class site, students used the entire site as a resource to write papers individually. It is this last step, where students use the collaborative resource for independent mastery of a concept, that is the essential step in this process. This allows students to synthesize lots of information to reach a conclusion, and it provides an authentic audience for the student-created content on each page.

In reflecting on the experience, Tanis commented that
  • students' tech skills were lower than she expected, and simple things like signing in to the site required repeated directions
  • students needed significant support in working effectively with their group members to collaborate on their webpage
  • students struggled with citations, captions, titles, and formatting their pages.
This experience shows that students need more practice creating websites and other web-based products, and that despite all the talk of 'digital natives,' students need structured support from teachers as they learn to use technology more productively.


RESOURCES


Websites101: I created this site for my Building a Classroom Website PD class, and it has everything you and your students need to build a Google Site. See the How To page for video tutorials on the key steps.

Email me if you would like to implement a project with Google Sites in your classroom!

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