Recently the push and excitement to bring web 2.0 tools into our classrooms has been met head on by; fears of safety, concerns about privacy, and questions around pedagogical relevance and alignment. This year however, it looks like not only will there be collaborative writing and shared calendar options, but also lower level web design available via our new district supported Google Apps account.
The value to the teacher is that we now have a district-wide supported web 2.0 tool, which offers the benefits of cloud computing, collaborative learning, and an easy to use free tool; all the while housed in a safe, secure, student centered environment. While turning off features like Gmail, Chat, and Talk may frustrate some teachers; I am still excited that there is a push and support for collaborative writing. I strongly believe that collaborative writing and publishing is an authentic and valuable skill for our teachers to teach and our students to learn.
Another underused and sometime misused writing mode or genre is blogging in the classroom. There are not many options in K-6 for blogging. Short of signing my students up for blogger (not an option in elementary due to the terms of service and age issues) I was left with clunky options like Wikispaces as a blogging tool, or a district supported option that was anything but user friendly.
Google Sites is my solution and I am excited about it! I cannot wait to share with teachers the easy step-by-step solution that Google Sites offers. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to set this up in your class and on your class' Google Site.
- Create a site if you have not already done so (name, description, theme)
- Create Page name it "Class Blog" (or whatever you wish)
- Choose Web Page as the style
- Your next step will be setting up each students page
- Click on Create Page, name the page after the student
- Choose Announcements as the theme, and choose to put the page under Class Blog”
- Once page is created go under "More Options" click page settings and make sure all three boxes are checked, the big one is comments as this will be how your student receives feedback or comments from their blog
- Your student page is set up, repeat for rest of class.
- Extra for Experts: Link all of the blogs onto the page (not in drop down right below). Click on edit page, type student's name and link to it by clicking link, click on page you want to link, click on open in new window, and you will have it linked. You can get rid of "comments" option if you do not want general comments about all of the blogs on the class blogs page. It is your preference.