TCEA2011 “Discovering the Hidden Potential of Your Teacher Website”
This page contains the full series of the posts I did on Google Sites and building a collaborative teacher/student website.
I posted last week about our presentation at TCEA 2011 entitled “Discovering the Hidden Potential of Your Teacher Website.”
As part of our presentation, I recorded several screencasts for participants to refer to if they had questions.
Today, I will start a multi-part series presenting the same material in a blog format.
Our goal is to build a classroom collaborative website using Google Sites that takes a minimum amount of time to set up. Collaborative is the key word here as by the time we finish, the site will be used by both students and teachers in order to communicate freely and instantaneously. In addition, we have made this so easy that it is a great way for teachers who are doing this for the first time to succeed immediately. Most tutorials and webinars go through a laundry list of procedures that unfortunately have no relevance to any certain project. We are taking the opposite approach–learning Googles Sites through project-based learning.
Part 1–Creating the Site
This part will show you how to create your site and then how to navigate and edit the home page. By the end of part 1, you will have a fully functioning site that is already formatted for easy use. In subsequent parts I will explain how to use each module of this site. Take a look at the video: (Best viewed in full screen mode at 720p resolution)
In under 3 minutes you have a site that is far beyond what you could do with a blank page start in Google Sites.
Now, we want to show how easy it is to edit and navigate your new home page. Take a look:
Another 3 minutes has gone by and now you know how to edit the home page and navigate the site.
So far, we haven’t used a single bit of html! In fact, the only commands covered have been standard word processing commands!
- You are able to create a Google Collaborative Site
- Pick a good name for your site–changing it is not an option
- We created a public site but you can opt for a limited shared site. This option can be changed later as well.
- We used a specially designed template for this presentation
- We edited and navigated our new home page
Here’s what our new site looks like:
Tomorrow in part 2 we will talk about the Projects, Assignments and Calendar Modules! Stay tuned!
Yesterday in Part 1 of “Build a Teacher/Student Collaborative Website with Google Sites” we created the site with a special template and then covered how to navigate and edit the home page. Today we’ll cover how to list projects and assignments and also how to incorporate a classroom calendar into your site.
Projects and Assignments
An important element of a classroom website is listing projects and assignments. By making sure you enter this information into your site, students and parents alike will always be up-to-date on class expectations. If you are wondering if you have time to enter this information each day then ask yourself this question: “Do you have time to answer student and parent questions repeatedly about assignments and projects?” From my past experience, the time spent entering the information is a great investment. You’ll actually save time and have a documented record of this information. This module is fairly easy as it has already been set up. Take a look:
Pretty easy, huh?
Put a Classroom Calendar on Your Website
In addition to projects and assignments, another way to keep your students and parents up-to-date is via a classroom calendar. Google Sites allows you to insert any of the Google Calendars in your account into your classroom site. Once again, the investment in time keeping your calendar up-to-day is more than offset in the long run. There are a couple of small “tricks” to remember when inserting a Google Calendar into your site. First of all, it must be a public calendar so that others may view it. Therefore, you will want to set up a calendar for your classroom that is used exclusively for that class. Secondly, once you insert the calendar, all of the editing of the calendar must be done in the calendar part of Google–not in your classroom Google Site. Take a look:
You could set up your Google classroom calendar first and insert it when you are ready to save some time. Already, in just two days, we have:
- Set up the site
- Learned to navigate the site
- Listed Projects
- Listed Assignments
- Set up a Classroom Calendar
Tomorrow, in Part 3, we will learn how to add documents, files and links to your site.
Yesterday in Part 2 of “Build a Teacher/Student Collaborative Website with Google Sites-Projects, Assignments and Calendars” we covered how to add assignments, projects and a classroom calendar to your collaborative Google classroom site.
Today we will show you how to add documents, files and links to your site for easy access. There are many times that call for sharing of this type. For instance, many classroom teachers find a great resource and would like to share it with students. Sometimes the URL (web address) is an easy one such as CNN.com. However, most of the time the URL is long and complicated. How can you get the URL to your students? Easy–put it in the Documents section of your new Google Site.
Take a look:
Google Sites does not allow for a lot of individual storage. A regular Google Sites account limits you to 100 MB of personal storage. But nothing says you can’t take advantage of Google Docs, Dropbox or Windows SkyDrive storage. That’s why the web url option in uploading documents is very nice. This is a great option for video files as they are quite large!
The Documents section is a great way to give students and parents easy access to great resources. You do not have to email the resources numerous times, just simply put it into your Documents module once!
In case you missed the previous posts:
Tomorrow we will have some real fun by adding Videos and Pictures to our site! Stay tuned!
Adding videos and pictures to your Google Sites classroom site is probably the most fun and satisfying part of maintaining a site. Everyone loves videos and pictures. For a classroom site, it is perfect for documenting highlights from the current school year. You may wish to add photos from a field trip, instructional videos, sporting events and so on. Furthermore, students and parents love this feature as it brings a multimedia aspect to your site.
Google Sites makes it very easy to add photos and videos–Take a look:
As you just saw, adding videos and pictures is fun and easy in Google Sites. There is one warning when adding the Picasa web album. When you paste the URL, make sure it is not the secure URL! In English, that means the start of the URL should be http:// NOT https:// If it is the secure URL, just delete the “s” after you paste it into Google Sites.
One problem with adding videos in Google Sites is that your only choices are YouTube and Google Videos. However, you are not limited to this selection. Unfortunately, that means you must delve a little bit into the HTML section of Google Sites. The good thing is that it only entails copy and paste-no actual coding.
I’ve prepared a short video to show you how. We didn’t plan to get into this during our presentation but there were questions from the audience at TCEA on how to do it so we added it to the presentation. Take a look:
So now you can add any sort of video or picture to your site to make it a multimedia site for your classroom.
We’re moving right along now and tomorrow we will cover how to set up teacher and student blogs within your site.
In case you missed the previous posts:
The title of this series stresses the word “collaborative.” Up until now you may be thinking that you’re not really seeing the collaborative nature of Google Sites. Today that changes as we cover the Announcements and Student Pages modules of your new Google site that will allow the teacher and students to set up blogs within this website. It’s the final piece of the puzzle and the feature that makes this site truly collaborative. Google Sites allows you to create pages that are called “Announcements.” I’m not sure why they call it that as it really is a blogging page complete with an RSS feed. The “Announcement” module for this template is set up so that the teacher can make announcements or do a classroom blog. However, there is no reason you can’t let students use this module as well. But for now, let’s say you’ve decided that the “Announcements” module will be for teacher usage only. The following video shows you how to set up the “Announcement” module for your classroom site. Take a look:
Now that you know how to set up Announcements, it’s time to set up the same sort of thing for students. In the next video, I’ll show you how to set up a separate page/blog for each student in your class. Take a look:
Now you’ve got pages for all your students! How do you give them editing access to this site? Take a look:
You’ve probably got several questions about granting students access to this classroom site:
- How do I get students email addresses?
- Do students have access to the entire site or just their student page?
- Will students mess around with other people’s pages?
The email issue is best solved by using Google Apps for Education instead of the regular Google account. See your tech support people if they have not investigated and installed this free Google Service for education. If they refuse or have a policy that prohibits that installation, there are several sites to get students email addresses so they can log on to Google. When we first started this, we used ePals Mail. You can also investigate Gaggle. Tammy Worcester has her own solution here. Whatever you decide, it will have to coincide with your schools AUP. Make sure you consult with tech support on this issue. Students will have access to the entire site but we have not found that to be a problem. Instead, we use it as a true teachable moment to reinforce the true meaning of respect and collaboration. In addition, once students know that Google logs every change to the site by user (I’ll show this tomorrow), they don’t really feel it’s worthwhile to mess around when they know there is digital evidence of everything they do on the site. Tomorrow will bring us the final installment in the series. We will finish up with tons of Google Sites resources, some security issues and enabling your site to collect files from your students. See you then! In case you missed the previous posts in this series: Build a Teacher/Student Collaborative Website with Google Sites Part 1 Build a Teacher/Student Collaborative Website with Google Sites Part 2 Build a Teacher/Student Collaborative Website with Google Sites Part 3 Build a Teacher/Student Collaborative Website with Google Sites Part 4
Today, we finish off the series by talking about collecting student work via Dropbox and how to make it very easy. In addition, I’ll give you links to tons of Google Sites resources so you can investigate more of what is possible on Google Sites.
Collecting Student Work the Easy Way!
Once you have signed up for DropBox, you may want to take a look at one of my more popular posts: “The Complete Dropbox for Educators” at some point. But for now, we’ll take a look at another post “Use DROPitTOme as a Drop.io Replacement” This post shows you how you can set up your Dropbox account in conjunction with DROPitTOme to collect student work easily.
Once you have that done, it is a simple matter to add a place on your Google Site to make it even easier! Watch now:
You’re now able to collect student work easily and have access to it everywhere!
Finally, as you get better and better at administering your new classroom site, you may want to learn even more. We have managed to create a great site without a steep learning curve. But as lifelong learners, you’re yearning for more! Here it is:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on Building a Collaborative Website with Google Sites. The link to the site I used for this tutorial is here. If you’re interested, the entire playlist of videos shown in this series is embedded below:
In case you missed the previous posts in this series: