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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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The Classroom Web Page: A Must-Have in 2008

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant

Every American educator needs to build and maintain his or her own teacher Web page.

Before you respond with arguments about how many non-Web-paged educators are among the best teachers you know, understand that I'm sure you're right. In fact, I bet many of those nonwired teachers run wonderfully holistic, project-based classrooms where hands-on activities abound and high expectations for all students are the rule rather than the exception. But I believe they could be doing so much more for their students if they did have a Web page.

In keeping with my commitment to put the why before the how whenever I advocate for technology integration, let me explain the benefits I see in a personally maintained classroom Web page before I provide some links to simple tools that allow any teacher, regardless of technical know-how, to create a live Web page for free:

Efficiency: A teacher Web page helps gain teaching time. When hyperlinks on that page are connected to high-quality resources, the students quickly become used to getting to the classroom page and moving on to the resources. Gone will be the days when you and your students get to the computer lab or take out the laptops and you begin the lengthy ordeal of getting everyone to the same Web site. You know the drill: "OK, everyone, look up here on the screen . . . up here, Juanita . . . Alice? Craig? OK, I want you all to open your browser and type in 'www . . . '" And far too often, the dialogue continues, "Careful, Billy, you only put in two w's" or "Come on, Sal, back to the page we are all headed to, and just wait for everyone to get there."

Resources: Students gain access to many more curriculum resources. By placing those hyperlinks to relevant resources on the classroom Web page, teachers not only can speed up access to materials but can also exponentially increase all students' access to high-quality curriculum materials that directly support content. Though placing resources one click away is no guarantee that students will use them independently, it goes a long way toward doing all that can be done to support all learners.

Relevance: Students will come to see the Internet as a personally relevant extension of school. Because the Internet is already an extension of so much of their nonschool life, failing to establish a classroom component on the Web can marginalize the perceived importance of school.

Connection: Students come to see their teachers as connected. Let's face it: In American culture today, if you're not online, you're not relevant. Just ask any business or entertainment effort. PBS now creates Web content concurrently with television content. The Internet is that important.

Access: Through the inclusion of an email address, a contact form, or another communication tool, students and their families gain extended access to their teachers. The teacher is the most valuable resource in the classroom, so it only makes sense to provide greater access.

Experience: Students will gain experience using digital resources in direct support of learning. This will be a twenty-first-century life skill, as virtually all professions now use online learning tools to provide services to employees, and colleges and universities are constantly ramping up their use of digital tools to support their students in myriad ways.

Now, let's move on to the how. The best way is for schools to install and support a tool that allows teachers to create Web pages easily. And schools should give teachers both the encouragement and the freedom to build their own sites. But if your school is not there yet, you can make use of some of my favorite tools for building free, live classroom Web pages. I know I may leave out your favorites, so please post a comment and add them to the list, or let us know what tool your school is using and what you like about it!

  • Portaportal: This free site has been around for a while, but it just keeps getting better. Just fill in the blanks to build a page. Though you have limited ability to add text, there are unlimited categories, which allows you to provide easy access to resources in an organized manner.
  • Web Poster Wizard: This tool allows you to create teacher and student Web pages. Like all the other wonderful 4Teachers.org tools, it's easy and powerful.
  • Homepage Startup: This one is so easy, it's silly -- but worth looking at.
  • Google Page Creator: Google makes it easy and gives it away to everyone. Take a look.

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant
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Comments (42)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Cathy McDonald's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

When I first started with my web page, it was time consuming. With time, it has become second nature to update it on a regular basis, and I wonder why I thought it was so difficult.

Cathy McDonald's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Easy to Update from Home. On occasion. I am out of the classroom for workshops, Technology Conferences, or sickness. The website is the perfect place to update assignments while away from the classroom or to make sure students have an assignment for unexpected absences. My students know that the assignment is one I have given rather than one just to "kill time." An added benefit is that it makes them responsible for their own learning.

J D Wilson Jr's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I use Moodle to create online quizzes students can do when they miss the in-class quiz and my web page links to my Moodle pages. But I do not find Moodle friendly to web page design. That may be just me, though. It seems to me that Moodle is designed to serve as a platform for integrating online learning strategies into the conventional classroom. I also find, at least as it is set up on my schools system, that I do not have as much freedom as I would like creating the look of the pages I develop. Hope this helps.

Cordially,
J. D. Wilson, Jr.

Monica B.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am a college Education Student and I am taking a Technology in education course this semester. We are learning the importance of integrating technology into the regular curriculum of a classroom and what better way to do so than to have a teacher webpage. Most of the professors in the education program at my school have a website that makes it easy to follow in class and when i am doing homework. I use the webpages everyday and I plan to create a page my students can use when I have my own class.

Leann's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I graduated last May and am now currently finishing my first year of teaching. While I was in college I was able to take a technology class that introduced future teaching professionals to the various kinds of technology that can be integrated into the classroom. One of our projects was to create a web page that related to our teaching subject. After learning how to create a web page, I took the opportunity to create a web page for the district in which I was student teaching. You would not believe the number of positive comments that I received from parents and faculty! They loved it and found it so useful! Web pages make it so convenient for parents to stay up-to-date on what their child is doing and help them with any of their work if necessary. Now that I almost have one year of teaching experience under my belt, creating a web page for my department is one of my main goals. However, I find that the biggest roadblock in getting this accomplished is time. My district has been focusing on differentiated instruction for the past few years and their main priority is making sure that our students satisfactorily complete our state assessments. I believe that if districts take the time to educate teachers on how to create web pages (and give the teachers time to complete them), it would make the students' learning so much more effective because the class materials would be right at the students' fingertips and easily assessable for the parents. If the web page is fun and interactive, imagine how much student interest you would be able to gain!

Valeri McGregor's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I completely agree with you Jim. I think a classroom web page is a "must have." This is my first year teaching and I just assumed that I would have a web page to keep the school-home connection alive. Nevertheless, it is not the "norm" in my school to have or maintain a web page, so I have let this goal slip. Thank you for reminding me of the importance. I plan to create and maintain one immediately!

Linda Mackenzie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

As in anything else, prior planning can save you lots of time later. If you plan your web site to have some set pieces that will be useful information year after year, you needn't do massive regular updating. I continue to send home newsletters, but I also post them on my web site. It takes only minutes per week and keeps the site fresh. I also post slide shows of events, big and small, that go on in my kindergarten class. I also keep pages from year to year so that I don't recreate everything every year. The specifics on the page change (photos, pieces of information), but the page itself remains the same. If you can get organized enough, saving things you do every year (photos, newsletter, field trip permission forms) with the same name can make updating pages a snap.

I am also the webmaster at my school. I do my best to help other teachers see what can be done with a web site--to varying degrees of success. Like everything else, if you use it regularly, you don't forget how to do what is necessary to keep up your web site and consequently it goes faster when you update.

My web site is here: http://www.bainbridge.wednet.edu/blakely/Staff/lmckenzi/index.html

Much of it is "offline" during the summer, but you can get an idea of what a teacher's web page for young children could be like. It is a mix of activities for children and their families and information for parents, grandparents, etc.

Carol's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I developed my class web page when the district made a template available that was linked through our district homepage. I find my classroom site to be useful for posting information for the parents as well as students. Perhaps the most useful portion of the site is the assignment link where I post web quests and other projects to be completed. By doing this, I am able now to have active links in the documents directing the students to the most appropriate sites for the activity. I have also added on to the assignments enrichment information for parents and interactive activities that the students may go to once their other work is completed.

Tina Crispino's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have been toying with this idea for a few years now. I usually write a weekly newsletter and send it home. But a webpage would really be so much easier. Thank you for your ideas and help I can't wait to work on it.

Tina Crispino
Coral Springs, Florida

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