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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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Anonymous (not verified)

Classroom Web pages

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Has anyone used "Moodle" to develop their classroom webpage?

Webster's Classroom (not verified)

Free and easy to use classroom web sites

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I also run a free classroom website server called Webster's Classroom. Its already been in use by schools in Hawaii for over a year now. Try it out and tell me what you think.

Patrick (not verified)

The classroom web page

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My classroom web page helps the parents just as much as my students. For years I did a weekly newsletter. This was a great way to let parents and student know what I expect for the week, what was going on in the classroom, and upcoming special events. Last year I started a web page and the responses from my classroom family has all been positive. The biggest difference between the web page and my old newsletter is the help I can give parents who want to help their children at home. I have all types of links on the page that allows parents to help their children prepare for upcoming test, projects, and reports. The best part is that in the world of standardized testing, I can offer my parents ways to help their children do better in these tests.

Kiley Karmazinas (not verified)

mathematics

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I began a webpage last year but unfortunately, I can not seem to find the time to keep it up. What do you include on your webpage and do you have any links that would take me to great teacher websites (preferably math)? How much time do you spend each day or each week updating your website?

Stephanie (not verified)

The Classroom Web Page: A Must-Have in 2008

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For the last two years, I have been using a Web Page through the McGraw Hill Learning Network. It is free and seems to me to be very user friendly. Last year, I used the Web Page to post homework assignments, and in October I attended a workshop where I was awakened to the fact that not only should I put homework assignments on it but I should also include links. The links that I have provided have been great to access information for my students to complete projects and learn a lot of new information on the internet and use it in the ever advancing technological world.

Alicia A. (not verified)

Classroom Web pages

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I also agree that teacher webpages are great! I started one through Scholastic Books company for free last year. I have heard positive feedback from parents. I include homework for each week, a variety of websites for children, and a brief statement on what is going on in our class. I would like to have more ideas on what I can add to my webpage to make it even more benifical. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

Anonymous (not verified)

Classroom Web sites

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My child's 5th grade teacher has a great Web site. I raved about it one day saying it really helps to connect me to my child's classroom experience. The site is from School World apparently. I don't know much about this world of teacher sites, but I do know what my child's teacher uses is really great. The teacher seemed to raved about it as well. She said she paid for it, but it was a very small amount for what it offers.

Joe Makley (not verified)

Classroom web page

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Jim, you are right, of course. I couldn't imagine teaching without a web presence, and you don't have to do web design any more. A WordPress account would get you there. I wanted to mention though, that it would be useful (and certainly a feature of my school) to have a web-based tool that all classrooms use. In other words, there would be an official platform which had some communication pieces, etc. that were familiar across classrooms, or even across schools. Our own Maine universities use Blackboard in this way, and we have a pretty good prototype in the Moodle system being provided ( as a pilot, more or less) in the Maine Virtual Learning Project.
The advantages would include:

  • access levels/confidentiality
  • shared knowledge base
  • staff development
  • connection to grades/records

Teachers would be free to use a wide range of web-based tools and resources, but along with students, they would share a home base.

Sarah Sutter (not verified)

Other ideas for web presence

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This blog post is by PJ Higgins; he takes an interesting approach to the teacher presence in the learner's environment.

While the webpage is one option, there are several ways to be a digital presence for students and allow for more efficient access to quality resources.

Another example is a pageflakes page by a public speaking teacher:

These kinds of dynamic pages are great tools and resources for any class working online.

Tina J (not verified)

Classroom web pages!

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I have found my classroom webpage to be very beneficial in extending the lines of communication between myself and my students. I try to keep my webpage up to date and list as much information as possible. I found this to be very time consuming at first, but after getting such a positive outcome from parents. I found the time to be worth it. The extra time I put into my webpage alleviates much of the time wasted during the class day writing up missing assignment reports or filling in assignment notebooks. I agree that some students are hindered by not having internet access, but always point out that the option of the library is available.

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Jim Moulton Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant