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Teachers going high-tech: Classroom websites

Sherri Kuhn writes about raising teenagers, the perils of a clean home, wistfulness over babies, and anything else that makes her laugh (or cry) in the years between changing diapers and wearing them. With a son just starting college and...

Throw away the chalk, break out the iPad

Teachers have always looked for innovative ways to engage their students in learning. With technology being such a major force in the lives of our school-aged children it seems natural that classrooms would incorporate technology on some level. Many teachers are bringing a new twist to classroom management by creating a website that allows teachers to connect with students and parents. Keep reading to find out how they work and what parents love.

Why use a website?

Teachers who have implemented a classroom website find that it brings much more to their interaction with students than just posting homework assignments or test scores. Students are more engaged and parents feel connected to the learning process. Classroom websites offer a way for students and teachers to interact beyond the regular classroom setting and past dismissal time.

There are several sites teachers can use to set up their own classroom site quickly and easily. Shutterfly, Weebly, TeacherWeb and ClassJump are some of the sites offering a place where teachers can create their own sites and start using them immediately.

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Extra credit

Student progress and homework assignments are popular uses for a classroom website, but what other options can teachers utilize? David Rusenko is the CEO of Weebly, a site where teachers can easily create their own website for free. “Weebly for Education is a custom-built tool that caters to specific needs in education,” says Rusenko. “It allows teachers to create a classroom site to keep students and parents up to date on progress, homework and curriculum. It also allows teachers to give their students (of all ages) access to create a website and blog in a controlled environment.”

With the ability to add video and photographs, many teachers use these blogs or website as the next generation of a written essay or book report. Students can create an electronic portfolio of their work, and teachers can control access to these sites by making them public or private.

Parents are fans

How many times has your child come home from a long day at school and didn’t remember to write down the homework assignment? When your child’s teacher uses a classroom website, homework assignments are readily available online, anytime day or night. Teachers can update progress reports and grades frequently, giving students the ability to stay on track.

As students move on to high school courses that involve more extensive projects, the ability to work online is even more useful. Students can access their personal sites or blogs at any time day or night, which is helpful when teenage study schedules become erratic.

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A teacher’s perspective

Jared Ward is a teacher in the Canyons School District in Sandy, Utah who has helped many teachers in his district set up their own sites with Weebly. “We have been using Weebly for teacher's class websites for a few years now and we love it. I have been working with teachers in my school to help them build class websites using Weebly, and each year we add more and more teachers to the list of those with websites.” Most sites that offer a classroom website make them easy to create in a very short amount of time.

Bottom line

Teachers can increase the level of interaction and learning for their students by setting up a classroom website.

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