Posted in Resource Center

Google Sites for Classroom Management

This year, as inspired from other teach teachers within the #EdTech Twitter community, I’ve decided to try using Google Sites as an online interface for classroom management.

This began as a means to an end to a challenge I encountered working at a new position as a Technology and Digital Arts teacher at a new school. After using primarily Google Classroom and other Google tools for education in my previous job, I have to admit I was slightly disappointed when I discovered that my school used Outlook as their primary working environment. While Outlook does currently have education options, I do not have access to them at this time.

Transitioning over to a new system like Google Classroom was not an option, so as a result, I decided to build a basic Google website, and try using it to manage digital components of my classroom, such as homework assignments, announcements, and project updates. I also want to teach my students how to build their own website as a method of creating a digital portfolio. I thought that making my own class website might be a good opportunity to provide a live and always changing work exemplar for my students. Click here to check out my teaching website!

Here are a few screenshots of the different class period home pages that I have. I do have six different class periods, so I’m hopeful that this will help keep everything organized outside of the classroom.

I’m hoping to bring in an interactive component such as Google Hangouts or a similar chat app where students are able to ask each other project-related questions in real time, or perhaps have a teacher AmA or online Q and A sessions.

Some feedback after using for a few weeks:

Pros:

  • I enjoy updating my students with class resources (such as videos and other tutorials), announcements, and memos live, or shortly after class.
  • Each web page for each class period feels customized and personal, and i think my students enjoy this. I am starting to integrate student-built playlists, which add an extra element of something special for my students to look forward to in my classroom.
  • I can share what is happening in the classroom, making students and parents feel included in the learning process.

Cons:

  • This is a new system, and I am noticing a slight gap in communication because the habit of checking the website is a new procedure in my classroom.
  • Younger students need to be taught how to bookmark a website, and as an unintended consequence, organize their bookmarks. This was an impromptu mini-lesson in class that I was not expecting.
  • Web pages to not have notifications like apps or emails do. As a result, the habit to check the website needs to be heavily reminded and reinforced within the classroom.
  • the Google environment does not always jive with Outlook cloud based tools. While outlook’s tools are similar, I am disappointed that I can’t embed these features in my website easily. I usually have to create a link within text, which is harder for students to find easily.

In the future, I might consider exploring a different working environment than Google Pages. Or perhaps, requesting access to Outlook Education from my school’s administration. But for now, it seems to be working well enough. 🙂

I’m going to give another shout out to #EdTech Twitter and all of the wonderful teachers that shared their ideas and resources regarding teaching technology in the classroom. Without the sharing and open-source attitude, I would never have had the opportunity to try this with my students! I can’t wait to discover more. 🙂

Have you ever tried a digital component to help manage your classroom workflow? Share your experience in the comments below!

Posted in Resource Center

Using Canva as a Tool for Accessible Graphic Design in the Classroom

Have you ever wanted to give your students the chance to digitally design a visual element for a project? Are you tired of using up coveted supplies for poster designs? Consider using Canva as a tool for students to use to easily create posters, infographics, social media graphics, and more!

What is Canva?

Canva is a simplified graphic-design tool website, founded in 2012. It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million photographs, vectors, graphics, and fonts. It is used by non-designers as well as professionals.

Wikipedia

As a teacher, I enjoy having my students use Canva as a way to quickly design an infographic or poster about a given subject. Canva has many pre-made templates to choose from, graphics and text are easily manipulated, and it doesn’t require installed software on a computer- you can work from any computer on their website. Students feel successful designing professional looking graphics for a project, and it doesn’t require in-depth knowledge about high end graphic design software.

Here is an example of a poster that I created using Canva:

Click here to access this large-format graphic in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I also used Canva to design a schoolyard garden scavenger hunt poster. The concept was to have this displayed in any schoolyard garden for students to participate in at any time.

For the large format graphic via TpT, click here

In order to learn Canva, I would encourage you to experiment! I became comfortable using the software in about twenty minutes. The first time I taught my students how to use the software, I did a live, projected demo in my classroom. In the future, I would like to screen record the tutorial so that students can access it at any time.

Have you ever used Canva in the classroom? Please feel free to share your experiences below. Happy designing!