Friday, July 19, 2013

Tune into Technology - classroom website

I have a few minutes before I head out kayaking (I actually finished after returning so I have a picture at the bottom) to join

of course I'm a day late but that's the way it goes lately - too many vacation things to do :-)

As for the topic of classroom website, our tech guy maintains our school website which has links to all the teacher sites. All the teachers at our school are expected to have a class website that gets updated at least every two weeks. For the last few years they have been through TeacherWeb. Here is my old one (until it closes down). Apparently it was pretty expensive for the whole school so we are making some changes. Next year everyone is moving to Weebly (which is free). Here is my new site as it currently stands, although there are still a few things I want to do to it.

In the past I have primarily used it as a place to share about currently topics studied (especially when I taught all the subjects) as well as study guides or other handouts. It also included some static items like schedule and general policies. I did use a google calendar for upcoming dates that was embedded as well as links to some other useful sites (like our Flickr page* and ikeepbookmarks*). I sent a weekły email about what was going on in class and when I remembered I also put it on the website (which was not as frequent as it should have been).

Next year my plan is to use the website to showcase student work much more (along with the students' kidblogs*). I also want to post a class picture of the day (with student help) like Linda Yollis. I'm also going to do my weekly update directly on the blog and make let them sign up for the email update (rather than doing the email and then adding it). I plan to show the parents how to sign up at curriculum night and also post a little video tutorial. I do have some frequently used websites on a symbaloo page that is now embedded in the site as well.

I love Weebly because it is SO EASY to use. I showed all the teacher the basics during a planning period near the end of the year. I set up a page for reference with some "how to" things as well as some other class websites. I also like that you can have traditional web pages as well as multiple blogs all under the same address. I plan to set up three blogs within my site (one for class news, one for showcasing student work and one for the picture of the day). Weebly has an app that allows you to do post (not regular site changes) super easy from your mobile device (iOS and android). I also like that you can easily hide pages while they aren't relevant (like the student showcase and photos right now). This allows teachers to plan ahead, eliminate visual clutter and recycle in future years. 

If anybody is considering setting up a Weebly site just make sure you do it under the education section. This allows you to set students up as well as group, topic, or student sites if you should ever want that later on.

* A few other favorites.

I have maintained class Flickr collections for the last few years. Luckily I haven't had any kids that couldn't have their pictures posted. It is great for the yearbook staff as well as the parents to have access to pictures from a bunch of our activities. They can easily download them for their own collections. Students can also use them in projects. Here is our collection from last year.

I don't know how long ago I set up my first ikeepbookmarks account but my guess is about 15 years ago. They are still around after all these years while tons of other websites have come and gone. It is a simple bookmarking site geared to education. It is able to accommodated unlimited amounts of sites in a folder structure. It isn't fancy but it works great and kids navigate it without any issue. I also like that you can lock (hide) folders until you want them revealed. You can also put icons by pages to make them stand out as well as rate them with stars. My kids know that I out eyeballs next to what I want them to look at first.  They also have a bookmarklet that you can add to your browser to quickly add sites without typing :-) Here is my current fourth grade collection.

Kidblog is a fantastic site for students to do individual blogs. They have come a long way since they started several years ago and the founder (in the picture on the left) is a super nice guy. They definitely love teachers and want to do whatever they can to make things work well for student use. I know a bunch of bloggers have talked about this site so no need to add to the chatter.

I do think websites can be a valuable resource for communication when used to their full potential. I am going to try and capitalize more on that this year. Now I need to see what other great ideas I can gather other at iTeach 1:1 or Learning to the Core.

I had so much fun kayaking yesterday that I had to go back with my husband today. 

This time I actually remembered to bring a camera. 


  1. My goal is also to showcase more student work on the site and link up our Kidblog. After seeing that pic, I want to go kayaking! Looks so fun and relaxing. Thanks for linking up with us.:)

    iTeach 1:1

  2. I like the idea of the picture of the day and student work. I add some, but not all on mine and also add it in Edmodo for the kids to go back and reference. That's really nice that you did a training on Weebly and did a help page for other teachers!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. I definitely think most of the teacher appreciated it. I'm sure not all really want to keep up with the sites but they know my principal expects it. I also sat down with a few one on one that needed a little personal attention.

  3. Heather, this article was very informative! I would like to try a class website this year... Baby steps, right?

    1. I certainly think baby steps is the ticket. I think the easiest thing is to start with some standard stuff that parents could reference but doesn't need regular updating like procedures, schedule, etc. I'm definitely a fan of Weebly for beginners because it is totally drag and drop. It only takes a couple of minutes to get the hang of how things work but it has a lot of capabilities.