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The Classroom Web Page: A Must-Have in 2008

| Jim Moulton

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.
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Comments (42)

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Tracy (not verified)

A classroom web page is a must have in 2008

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I am so excited to see so many educators starting up web pages. I began my own this school year and am thrilled with the connectivity it has brought into my classroom. The parents definitely feel they can access me much easier, and stay current on classroom information, and weekly homework assignments. I have parents using the public library to access my web page. I hope all educators will see the benefits of using tecnology as another method to connect the classroom with the homes.

Jim R. Moulton (not verified)

Graham, thanks for posting another resource

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Graham -

Thanks so much for posting yet another resource... I often speak about the critical importance of two networks when technology comes to school. One is the technical one - the machines have to work. The other is the human one, and in fact the human network trumps the technical one when it comes to making a difference...

Cheers.

Jim Moulton

Jim R. Moulton (not verified)

Student access

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Brian -

I understand the reality of "some have and some do not." The same is true, and perhaps the implications even more profound, for parental support, or lack thereof, of literacy, thinking, and learning. How many times, as a Grade Three teacher, would I come home and say to my wife, "Man, if I could only bring [insert child's name here] home, I know she/he could go so far... I am worried about the long run for this one..."

In fact, perhaps one of the best ways to argue for providing greater purposeful access to the technology outside of school through public libraries, extended access hours a school, etc is to make a kicking teacher web page and then open the discussion about just how unfair it is to not have everyone able to use it...

So I certainly see it as an issue, but far from a reason to not "go for it!"

Cheers.

Jim Moulton

Brian Quentin (not verified)

Teacher and course websites

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I agree that teacher websites and course websites are a wonderful resource for students to utilize. However the students that have access to a computer outside my classroom have a distinct advantage over the students that do not have access to a computer outside of the classroom

Liza Soto (not verified)

Classroom Web page

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I agree with you on that! I am glad to see your view becuase I agree with it 100000000% can you imagine the possibilites with a web page!! Think if everyone did this, it would become a way of life for all and save $$$$$$$trees$$$$$$$$$

Graham Glass (not verified)

Free education site w/ comprehensive online classrooms

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Hi guys,

If you're looking for an easy way to teach classes online, you might find edu 2.0 useful. It's free, web-hosted, and provides comprehensive support for online teaching and shared resources. Every class gets its own classroom web page.

Check it out at http://www.edu20.org

Cheers,
Graham

Matthew Eby (not verified)

Classroom Web Page

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I agree that teachers should consider making a web page and using it. You can put up the class syllabus on the website so if any questions arise there is always a copy available for both the students and the parents. As it has also been pointed out you can place an overview of the class on the website saying what could happen today or a couple weeks down the road allowing the students the ability to plan ahead. You can also keep a daily record on what is happening in the class each day. So if a student was absent they could easily see what happened the day she or he missed. If you are a teacher that likes to give lectures, you can record your lectures and host them online and allow your students to listen to the lectures at any time. The same can be done with notes. You can give the notes to students ahead of time on the website, so when they come to class you can spend time reviewing the material and answering questions they might have instead of worrying about if they are getting everything down. Overall making a classroom website can be beneficial for the students and is something teachers should really consider doing.

Ms.B (not verified)

YES! Teacher Webpages

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Teacher webpages are wonderful! Try Scholastic.com for a great one; they'll get you started step-by-step.

Joel Zehring (not verified)

Why a classroom Web site is important

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I couldn't agree more. One more reason (because I dig the whys as much as the hows):

Collaboration: When a teacher uses a website to support her classroom activities, she opens up a channel of collaboration for sharing resources and ideas with other professionals in her school, community, and world.

I use the one-two punch of a class blog and a class wiki to publish information (blog) and get my students in on the action.

Zixth Grade Blog

Zixth Grade Wiki

Gabriel Padron (not verified)

Think of your classroom website as an insurance policy

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All teachers need to get a classroom website set up. I think of it as an added insurance plan for teachers and students. In the website you can make a section for notes and post your notes from that day's lecture. In another section of the website, you can have the homework and classwork listed as well as a place to submit homework/classwork. These are all things you could have on your classroom website so in case that any the students fail to write down that day's lecture notes they can find them as well on the website; therefore, there are no excuses for the student to fall behind in class or miss an assignment.

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Jim Moulton Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant