Utilizing Classroom Web Pages for Student Engagement Part I
For those of us that have classroom computers in our rooms or with computer lab time, sometimes we find ourselves struggling to get students started at centers/groups, especially when using computers. I have found that managing a class web page can be very helpful to keeping students focused on what they need to do and minimizes the need for questions like: "Where do I go!?" or "What do I do!?" Here are a few tips that all teachers can use.
Having a class web page focuses students on where to go when they start working on the internet. It provides a consistent page for students to see when they get onto the internet for their daily assignments or assigned classwork. At our school, I manage my classroom website (www.mrantuna.org) as well at the school website (www.aguacalienteschool.org). In the computer lab, all the computer's homepage is set for www.aguacalienteschool.org. Teachers find this useful for when their students are in the lab, they use navigation tools at the top to direct student to do particular online activities that our school uses as intervention: www.kidbiz3000.com, www.raz-kids.com, www.brainpop.com, and Acclerated Reader Online.
Making the class web page your homepage, the first page students see when they open up the browser, gives students that comfort in knowing what they have to do. As a teacher, we have many things to do besides managing web pages, so I can understand that there's a time issue. However, there are some fabulous resources for you to use with your class that does not have to be tedious or time consuming. Here are a few:
Did you know you can make a class homepage here? There's a fantastic and simple process to get started and it integrated perfectly with the book clubs so that parents can go on and purchase from home. Don't you love those points!?
Pros: Tons of resources to choose from, simple to get started, password protected and secure.
Cons: The password protection process is a bit complicated for students in younger grades.
A great site that makes educational blogging easy. You can setup your site and access it anywhere, posting activities for your students to use - even emailing the post to edublogs and having it post that way.
Pros: Easy to use, simple functionality.
Cons: Advertisements pop up in some places, may pull students to different sites by accidental clicking (all educational)
Easy simple blogging for you to use. Not specific to education.
Pros: Google-simplistic blogging.
Cons: Not specific to education, may direct to unwanted advertising sites.
A slightly more complicated site hosted for free, but in the form of a wiki. Wikis are "editable" by a group of people, so if a grade level would like to start their own, they can all work together
Pros: A group can edit and manage the site, rather than one use.
Cons: May be more complicated to use for both teachers and students.
An easy to use, paid for site that uses Apple's iWeb application pretty seamlessly. You can custom create your web page on your own computer and upload directly to Apple's hosting service.
Pros: Custom create your own site.
Cons: $99 per year, a bit more complicated to use because you need knowledge to create the site, then upload it. It works best on Apple computers, some functionality on PCs, but not seamless.
No matter what site or program you use, the main point is that students are able to connect with you on things they are learning in class. I have found it very useful for students to work on activities that I find through searching online activities and posting them to my site. Students then know their routine and are able to work on the same skill that we're working on, but in a different modality.
I'll explain how I set up my site next week.
Thanks for reading!
Have any questions? Ideas? Comments? Please post below!!