Today I would like to challenge you to explore Google Sites, a tool that saves me time and energy in the following ways:
- organizes my courses
- makes notes and other materials immediately accessible to any absent students
- provides a framework for employing the “flip” through videos and other media
- easily integrates my Google Calendar to display lesson plans
- gives me a way to add a creative personal touch to my courses
While many options exist for maintaining a class website, I enjoy the individuality and flexibility of Google sites. I have great control over the look of each site (color scheme, layout, etc) and I can be creative while keeping things simple. It is extremely easy to post videos and links for my students to watch, as well as the notes and assignments for each unit. Last year I uploaded a pdf file of each day’s notes, and now I can easily direct absent students to find their missing work on the website. Google is known for products that are user-friendly, and there isn’t another online company out there that I feel will be sticking around longer. Though I have my digital notes backed up, it’s nice to know my sites will be there next year. Making changes, adding lessons, linking videos, and finding ways to inspire students are all made easy by this great app.
This is not something you can necessarily sit down and commit to in a day, but my challenge to you is to spend 20 minutes this week building a simple website. Your practice site does not have to be a class website. Have fun with it, but in the back of your mind be thinking about how it could serve you and your students. Here are a few links to help you get started:
https://sites.google.com/ (to dive right in)
Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Site (to read about it first)
Google Sites Classroom Template (to check out Google’s template – way more complex than mine)
Link to my Precalculus site (very simple, still in its early stages, but is constantly adapting to the changes I make in the course)
Getting my sites started took some work, but the time was worth the investment. Now I have sites that grow and adapt as I improve my course, keeping a digital record of all my work. If you love creating and could use an online filing cabinet for your course, or if you have been looking for a good platform for employing the “flip,” Google Sites could be just the right thing. Give it a try and see what you can learn.