20 ideas to jump start your class website

20 ideas to jump start your class website

Class websites can be a central hub of online activity for your class. With all the digital content and great web tools available, there’s so much you can do with class websites. (Wikimedia / Rock1997)

A class website can be an online hub for all of your students’ activity.

Activities can start there.

Additional information can be found there.

Communication happens there.

Fun and games go on there.

I have found my students and I depending on my class website more and more as the year goes on. I toyed with one last year and really jumped in full force this year and have loved it.

On my class website, which I built easily on Weebly, I have individual pages for each of the courses I teach. All of the weekly study guides (documents with all the week’s information to learn) are linked there.

The site has become ingrained in my students’ daily processes. They have buttons in their Google Chrome bookmark bars and can access it with a simple click.

Plus, I bought a .com domain for it on sale (like $5 a year for three years), so they just type that domain and it redirects to my class Weebly site.

With the boom in online content and great digital tools, there’s so much that you can include in a class website to make it one-stop learning for your students.

1. Your documents. By creating your documents on Google Documents (or uploading your old documents to your Google Drive account), you can generate a link to them. Post those links on your class website and you’ll never have to dig out photocopies for your students again.

2. Links to useful sites. If you teach it in your classes, someone has probably written about it online. When you find those sites (or if your students do), gather links and post them on your class site.

3. Tests and quizzes. When it’s test or quiz day, I will often create them using Google Forms and post a link to them on the class site. As easy as it is to update a Weebly site, after students are done with it, I’ll remove the link immediately.

4. Embedded videos. I teach high school Spanish, and no matter the new grammatical concept I’m introducing in class, there are numerous educational videos on YouTube (or SchoolTube or TeacherTube) that teach them too. Give students access to them for reinforcement or easy reference for absentees.

5. Quizlet flashcards. I’m a huge fan of Quizlet, an online flashcard site. (I wrote previously that Quizlet is the “king of online flashcards.”) After quickly creating a set of Quizlet flashcards, you can embed an interactive version of it on your site. Students can flip through their terms without having to leave your site.

6. Photos of student work. My students create a lot of things for me (drawings, comic strips, etc.). Sometimes, we create things together, like illustrations of stories we make up in Spanish. It’s fun to refer back to what we’ve done together, and it’s great for jogging the memory on things we’ve learned.

7. Photos of students. My students dressed up for Duck Dynasty day during homecoming week and I took a photo of them. I tweeted it to some of the cast of Duck Dynasty (where it was subsequently retweeted by the show’s Jase Robertson). I posted that photo — and some others — and students love to talk about them. Make sure you’re following school procedure on posting photos of students, though.

8. Student video projects. There are lots of ideas for student video projects, and my favorite site for creating them is WeVideo. Once students have created a video, they can save it as a video file and upload it to a video site (like YouTube, TeacherTube or SchoolTube). You can embed that video on a “student video projects” subpage on your site for easy access by students or their family.

9. Your contact information. Want to make it easy for students to contact you? Make a link to your e-mail address. Include a contact form (where students type their name and question and send it to you via the site). Or include SpeakPipe on your site, where students can leave you a voice message and it will send you an e-mail to check it.

10. Your favorite sites. On my site, I have a page with links to all of the sites we use and the information students will need to access them (i.e. my Socrative room number). I’ve even embedded a Symbaloo webmix with all of those links to make it more visual.

11. News you can use. Include an RSS feed (a clickable stream of news or articles) on a widget (a little box with a specific purpose you can add to your site) or using RSSinclude. Students will instantly be able to see new articles on your site that might interest them.

12. A talking head. Embed a Voki on your site. Voki allows you to create a character and write (or record) what you want it to say when visitors click play. Teachers can use them for important reminders, as encouragement to students or just for fun.

13. Sub lesson plans. Use screencasting sites like Screencast-O-Matic or Screenr to record video of your computer screen and your voice. Instead of (or in addition to) written lesson plans for a substitute teacher, stick a video explaining what to do — in your own voice! — to avoid misunderstandings or miscommunications. (Thanks Cynthia Basham for the idea!)

14. A poll. Students want to hear their own voices in your class! Ask them for their opinions by linking to or embedding a poll using Google Forms, Poll Everywhere or Mentimeter. Then actually do something with their results to make it count!

15. Impressive Creative Commons photos of your content. Want to include great digital media (photos, video, audio, etc.) on your site without worrying about infringing on copyright? Use the Creative Commons search to find media that’s free for redistribution. Add it to your site, but remember to include where you found it, who created it and a link back to the content!

16. Something about you. Students love to know more about the people in charge of them day after day. Include a page about you with photos, links to things you like and some information about your background. Write the things they’d expect, but surprise them some, too!

17. Some competition. Create an account at ClassBadges, where you can create badges to recognize students for their work. Then link to it from your site. The video gamers and athletes already crave this kind of recognition, and many other types students do, too.

18. Regular updates. Check on the content on your page regularly. If you add new things to it constantly, there’s more motivation for students to check it out regularly.

19. A teacher blog. This is a great way to tell others about the wonderful things that are happening in your class. It gets your own voice out there and can provide important information. Many site-creation sites like Weebly have an option to create a blog. There are many benefits of starting a teacher blog. Your students will love it too!

20. Student blogs. If you can blog, so can your students! Have a single blog for your class where students contribute (either as an assignment or voluntarily) or host individual student blogs on the class site. If you prefer a separate site for blogging (my favorite is KidBlog), links to student work make them easy to reach. (Need a jump-start on student blogging? Check out my resources.)

What else can you include in a class website? What have you done with yours? What would you like to do? Share with us in a comment below!

 

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3 thoughts on “20 ideas to jump start your class website

  1. What do you think of the practicality of a school website when many schools are shifting to online learning systems/platforms?(MyBigCampus, Canvas, Blackboard etc)

    • Good question, Anna. It probably depends on what we define as a school website. If we’re talking about a place to get information out to parents and the community, there’s definitely a place for the traditional school website. As far as class websites, I could certainly see it both ways, and I think it depends on where your students do most of their work. Much of the work in my classroom is done through Google Apps and other web tools, so having an easily accessible non-LMS (learning management system) website works for me. If students do much of their work in My Big Campus, for instance, I would think that having a class group as the hub of classroom activity would work nicely, especially since an external class website would have to link back in to My Big Campus for certain activities. Honestly, I would think that whatever a teacher and his/her students are more apt to use more regularly and efficiently would be the best answer. But that’s just me. If you get a chance, let me know your thoughts!