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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Class Websites: Vehicle for Collegial Share

When there's vibrant and regular collegial share, learning communities develop with strength.

Yet, the time for face-to-face share is limited in schools due to a large number of factors.

Front page of my class website. 
Informative class websites that are open to the entire learning community including students, families, educators, leaders, and citizens are a good response to time limitations for face-to-face share. These websites also provide potential for good collegial share, and one way to develop strong learning/teaching communities.

What does this effort entail?

Teacher Voice and Creativity
When educators and colleagues create websites they model creativity, collaboration, critical thinking skills, digital citizenship, and communication processes for their students. It's important that every educator's voice is respected in this process and that websites are not made to look the same with too many tight restrictions or limitations. Educators are the authors of their websites, and by creating these sites they model what an author does.

Website Venue
Offer a selection of website venues for teachers to use. In my school system, educators use Google sites, eBlogger, Weebly, and others.  Provide one access place for all educator websites in your system.

Discuss Website Development as a Staff
Let the following questions lead the discussion:
  • What information should be included on each classroom website? Our system requires the following: regular newsletters, class schedules, homework, and a brief teacher biography.
  • Who are the primary and secondary audiences for your website, and how does your audience affect your website creation and share? In most cases, students and families should be the primary audience and colleagues and leaders the secondary audience.
  • How often should you update your website? I think a range from every week to every month is acceptable here. 
  • How do you organize information on your website? Typically a nesting process is best. 
  • How do you teach and guide students, families, colleagues, and leaders to use your website to inform their learning, study, and leadership?
  • Is there room for student voice on your website, and how do you make time for and give attention to their voices?
  • What role does the website play in your teaching/learning efforts with respect to teaching students well, communicating with parents, colleagues, and leaders, and charting your own growth and effort as an educator?
  • What privacy factors are important to consider as we create websites? 
Make Time for Website Development
Set aside time with choice for website development. Offer educators collegial support with regard to website design and creation. Let educators create together or alone as good creativity requires different kinds of spaces and time for each individual--it shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all creative workshop or endeavor, but more like an edcamp for website design and development.

Revisit the Effort
After the initial website efforts, revisit with the following questions and actions.
  • Survey the learning community about website value, efforts, design, and needs. Create the questions together, publish the results, and use the information to develop the initiative more.
  • Discuss how colleagues use each others' websites for growth and development.
  • Share ways that you can improve websites, but retain respect and room for individual educator's voices, style, and creativity. 
What would you add to this post?  How can class websites help to invigorate and unify your collective teaching/learning efforts? Websites are a powerful resource in today's learning/teaching environment, and maximizing that resource to impact learning in positive ways is one important aspect of developing vibrant, new age schools and learning organizations. 

This is the link to Class Website. I use Google Sites. Many of my colleagues prefer eBlogger which creates a terrific venue for a website, particularly a website for younger children. If you'd like to share an example of your website for teacher review, please add the link in the comments section. Thank you. 

After writing this post, I took another look at my colleagues' websites. Those websites have developed with depth and style over the past year. I learned a lot as I read each teacher's letters and surveyed their links.