12 October 2014

Utilizing a Class Website

One thing that has changed tremendously since I was in school is the use of technology!  I was part of the generation that was introduced to computers and got to spend time once a week in the computer lab with limited educational games. Not the case these days!

Click to visit my Class Website!

My previous school was undergoing a transition to incorporate more technology in the classroom.  We got smart boards, projectors, media stations, an additional computer lab, and another student computer in each classroom.  With more computers being available, and WiFi available for my class devices, I decided to create a class website to utilize in the classroom.

My Vision

My goal was to create a website for the students to use in class and at home.  I wanted them to have interactive games and activities to reinforce skills taught in class.  The students would use computer cards they got from our Treasure Box when they finished their work early and get the chance to play these games in class.  I encouraged them to use the website at home, especially when they didn't feel comfortable with specific skills.

As a bonus, this was a great way to upload newsletters in our Class News (just in case they needed a reprint) and display reminders for parents.  It was a great communication tool, even if it served mainly as me sharing the information.

I needed to get service points from workshops, so I decided to take one on Class Websites through the county.  They provided the site host and showed us how to create a site using their WordPress platform.

Our Class Website

I spent some time over the weekends finding and researching online games that provided independent practice.  I focused on specific skills so that each student can look for the skills in each subject.  I first created pages for each subject area, then divided the games based on skills.  (Most of the sites I found were for Reading & Math, but I've continually added more and more sites to all subjects.)

Students' Reactions

My students were definitely those who had access to technology at home, so they needed little guidance to navigate to the site.  We did take a class period in the computer lab to type in the URL and explore the different sections.  They really enjoyed using this site and felt they were just playing games.  (Didn't realize they were needing to use the skills they learned to play these games.)  Some students would often get done early and our class site was something they could do that was productive.  We created a system that allowed up to 2 students per computer, which let 8 students on at a time in our class! 

I also used it as an incentive during lessons.  After we learned and practiced skills, we would sometimes spend about 5-10 minutes after the lesson playing a game with the class through our projector.  I definitely saw an improvement in individual students with skills.  I found I would get 100% class participation/engagement, even for my shy students. 

At Home with Parents

I got emails throughout the year asking for our class website at home and tips on helping their child with specifics.  I would refer back to our website for a base reference so that parents could understand what we were working on.  

Get Your Own Class Website

Our initial class website was through TeacherPress through the county, but since I moved I decided to take everything I created into a website through Blogger.  If you are provided with a workshop on class websites, I suggest taking them.  (Especially if they're free!)  They provide a lot of information and tips, plus provide instant help if you need it.  I HIGHLY recommend them for anyone who is unfamiliar with creating websites.

However, if you know your way around the internet, you can easily create one with Blogger or WordPress.com.  You don't need to be an expert, just someone who is familiar with the internet!  These sites provide an easy way to set up a blog and you can search online for tutorials or help setting specifics, if needed.  

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