Before my first session with students, I met with my technology coach, @EdTechSusan. The two of us brainstormed the purpose and structure of the student sites. The purpose of the sites are to showcase student work, be a hub for research, provide a space for mini-blogs, and for students to engage in graphic design and personalization. I wanted all my student’s sites to have the same structure, so we decided on that as well. This process was powerful as I had to reflect on my classroom, types of activities we engage in, and make the sites relevant to students.
The first session with students was creating the sites. As excited as I was, I was also nervous. I asked my district technology coordinator, @ARomayorJr, to be present for support. Thank you, Tony!!! I guided the lesson and Tony monitored student progress. Using the direct instruction model and a digital projector, I created a site myself as students created theirs. Within 30 minutes, we created our sites. Because we wanted to have consistency with URLs, we decided on mydigitalportfolio-(insert first name). The home page was automatically created. So, we needed to add “pages” to our sites. Thinking about our class activities, we decided on pages that each student would include in their site. They are:
- Google Slides
- Phi Kappa Phi
- Passion Project
- Writing Work
- Fun Stuff
The second day, we came back and wrote our bios and inserted images. In September, we created avatars and Bitmojis. Students were given the option to insert either of the images. Because of internet safety, I didn’t want students uploading their own pictures. Before students started writing, we read through blogs from two classes. Shoutout and BIG thanks to @Ms_A_Yeh and @MsVentruino for sharing their student blogs with us. Having my sixth graders read other online writing by students was invaluable. It helped add value to the process. My student's sites will only be available to students and educators within our district domain. I’m working with our coordinator to find a way to open up the sites to parents and other classrooms that we’d like to collaborate with. I really want my students to have the experience of writing and producing work for a wider audience. I’m crossing my fingers that we find a solution. Take a look at some of their bios. So much personality.
During our third session, students uploaded their work. Ok . . . you don’t even know how easy this was!!! Because we do all of our work in G-Suite, inserting slides, docs, and drawings was a cinch. I modeled how to upload from Google Drive and insert the piece of work. Then, students took it from there. We originally started out inserting slides and docs. One student asked about inserting hyperdocs we’ve worked on. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I told her to play around with it and see. Lo and behold, she was able to insert hyperdocs. Soooo . . . another page was added. The tagline for the new Google Site is, “An effortless way to create beautiful sites.” At that moment, I became a believer. Here's a sample.
On our fourth day, we spent time personalizing our sites. I really wanted a hub for all of our sites but I was stuck. I went to one of our tech guys, @Banales83, for help. He gave me a couple of options and we decided to link all of the student sites onto my site. From my site, students were able to peruse each other’s site. Even though we had the same pages and format, each site had a unique flair. One of the students discovered that each new entry ends up being like a banner, for lack of a better term. She was able to insert images that went with the theme of her writing. Many of the students took her lead and began the process of personalizing their sites. A discussion of web design ensued as students were working. Man, the power of students discovering real world relevance!!! Here's another sample from one of my budding web designers.
Oh . . . if you’re wondering. I started my blog on Weebly a couple of years ago. I really like my blogging experience with Weebly.
Now go build yourself a Google Site.