Classroom Websites for Literacy

District and school websites are ubiquitous, particularly in view of the reporting requirements on student achievement. For example, in California, a law was passed that dictates the type and quality of achievement data that must be reported and most districts report this via website. This is nice, but how are districts, schools, and teachers using websites for instructional purposes? In this post I will present two websites in some detail, but at the end of this post is a list of several websites that may be used as resources for your planning.

Mrs. Renz, Redmond, Oregon

Mrs. Heather Renz of Redmond, Oregon, has had a website since 2000. If you link to http://www.mrsrenz.net/ you will arrive at the home page for her fourth-grade classroom. On this home page, you can see choices of links for students, parents, and other teachers. You can also meet Mrs. Renz and find out about her 31 years of teaching, a little about her life, and her interest in establishing a website. There is also a list of awards that Mrs. Renz has won for her teaching, including Disney Teacher of the Year honoree for 2006 and Microsoft Innovator 2005.

Under links for students, one finds math website links, past classroom projects, pen pal project, class creed and a host of other topics to link to. On the “Stars Page” students can access both literacy and math puzzles and games.  Under “Alex and Pearl’s Page” students can find science, math, and reading and listening sites to visit. Example of a science link:  Trees are Terrific—a Movie (it is really an audio-enhanced slide show, which is new to the site. Travel with Pierre is a series produced by University of Illinois Extension, from their Urban Programs Resource Network.

Under the parents’ link, one finds information for parents, the classroom schedule, each child’s classroom projects and photos, tonight’s homework, field trip schedules, and other information useful to parents. There’s also links to the teaching team and awards Mrs. Renz has won. There is also an Open House handout and slides from previous Open Houses. There’s a place to contact Mrs. Renz.

Site for Teachers

Mrs. Renz' Site for Teachers

 

Under the teachers’ link, there are a number of resources that teachers will find useful. With Mrs. Renz’ permission, I’ve made a screen shot of the teacher’s page for our information. She is incredibly generous in sharing her resources!

Mr. Coley, Murrieta, California

As we have seen, one of the uses of a class website is to share with parents what students are learning about. Instead of the teacher updating the website, students can be regular contributors, by asking students to write about what they are learning on a daily basis. Mr. Coley’s fifth-grade website exemplifies this (http://www.mrcoley.com/blog/index.htm).

Mr. Coley Homepage

Mr. Coley’s website differs from Mrs. Renz’ website in more than just the organization. There are many departments in the website and many of these feature student postings (http://www.mrcoley.com/blog/index.htm). Each day, a student in Mr. Coley’s classroom is assigned to be a “Roving Reporter” who writes a piece about what takes place in class on that day.  The student may use a computer at home or one of the word processors in the classroom. Students word process the article and turn them in to Mr. Coley in several ways (email, CD, etc.).  Students thus get an opportunity to write using technology and the teacher uploads them to The Daily Blog.

With Mr. Coley’s permission we include examples of the blog for May 13, 2011.

Friday, May 13, 2011
Reported by Ethan #6

Hi, I’m Ethan #6, and I’m going to be the Roving Reporter for today.  I got to school at 8:00 in the morning, and I played basketball with my friends until the bell rang.  I ran to class, got in line, and waited for the nice, warm day to start.

First we had Friday Flag.  During Friday Flag, Mrs. Picchiottino, our assistant principal, and Ms. Groff, our librarian, announced Birthday Book Club, the Shark Bite winners, and the Spirit Count winners.  Mr. Fanning usually does a song, but he didn’t do one today.  For the lower grades, Mrs. Romano won Spirit Count, and for the upper grades, Mr. Glendinning won again.

To really start the day we did Fitnessgram testing. In Fitnessgram testing you have to do push-ups, sit-ups, the sit and reach, and the trunk lift.  My partner was Myles, and he went to do push-ups first, I had to count them.  He did 25 push-ups, and over a 12-inch trunk lift.  I was next, and I did 23 push-ups and I also went over 12 inches on the trunk lift.  Myles did 48 sit-ups, and a 10-11-inch sit and reach.  I did 50 sit-ups, and a 13-14-inch sit and reach.  We both did really well on the test.

To relax, we then watched Mr. Henning and his students do the rocket launches.  Each person in that class made a rocket the size of a liter soda bottle.  They put water in it, and then they pumped air into the bottle.  They count down until the student hits the trigger and launches it high into the sky.  Jill’s went the highest.  Drake got second, and Claire got third.

Next it was time for Lit. Circles.  The blue group, Conner, Ryan, Marcus, and I, is reading CloserCloser is the fourth book in the long Tunnels series written by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams.  We have two meetings left, so we decided to read the rest of the book.

It was then time for recess.  I ate a pack of fruit snacks when I was heading off to go play basketball with my friends.  I was on Myles’s team.  It was Mrs. Becker’s class vs. all.  We won 11-10, but it was a close game.  After that was done, we talked about it on the way back to class.

After that, we had to work on our writing prompt. This time we had to write a persuasive essay to convince Dr. Scheer, our school district’s superintendent, whether we should have school uniforms or not.  Most people said we shouldn’t, but some disagreed.

To have some fun after the boring writing prompt, we did Friday Business.  Last week we didn’t have time so we did two games of Deal or No Deal.  Last week’s winner, Emma, got to go first.  Marcus got to click the cases and we began.  Emma took a deal of $72,000, which is three pieces of licorice.  Jonathan got picked for this week’s game and Mr. Coley got to click the cases.  Jonathan stuck with his case and got $400,000, which is 11 pieces of licorice!

Then we had lunch.  I ate quickly so I could talk to my friends.  When Mr. Eddie released us, we ran off to play basketball again.  This time I was on the Becker team.  We didn’t really keep score though.

After returning to class we had to have the nurse, my mom in this case, measure our height and weight.  While one of us was inside doing that, the rest of us were reading outside.  When everybody was done, we walked back to class.

Upon returning to class, we started talking about Pathfinder.  We got a list of what we need to pack, and we talked about what the kids that would be staying behind do. We talked about clothing and other necessary items.  At the end we answered everybody’s questions.

Finally, the bell rang, we stood up, and I walked out the Room 34 door.  Mr. Coley said, “Bye, everybody,” and I was off.  Once again, I’m Ethan #6 and I was your Roving Reporter today.

 

There is also a Book Blog on Mr. Coley’s site, a place where students can review and recommend Accelerated Reader and Literature Circle books that they are reading. Students log in to Kidblog.org to write a short post about the book. Kidblog.org is a free site designed especially for students by teachers. Teachers have administrative control over student blogs and student accounts when they set up a classroom site. The site is password protected for the students and only viewable by the teacher and classmates and no student email addresses are required. The site states that no person information from either the teacher or the students is collected and that comment privacy settings block unsolicited comments from outside sources. On Andrea’s blogsite the May 10, 2011 post is on The Secret Garden and a week later there are three student comments posted in response.

A productive use of multimedia that requires students to grapple with new ideas and content is to use podcasting for student presentations. A podcast is a digital recording that can be shared over the Internet, and there are many online resources for creating and sharing podcasts Audio podcasts, usually MP3 files, are easiest to implement in your classroom, even if there is only one computer. Mr. Coley’s classroom website hosts the ColeyCast section, where audio podcasts are posted. We believe that audio podcasting is also composing, because planning and writing must be done to make the audio podcast. At the time of this writing, there are 52 ColeyCasts posted on the classroom website with everything from parts of speech to Amazing America (fascinating facts about the 50 states). You can listen to the podcasts on the website or subscribe to them on iTunes. If you would like to listen to some of the ColeyCasts, please visit the website at http://www.mrcoley.com/coleycast/index.htm.

Like Mrs. Renz, Mr. Coley posts information about himself, the class, and specific information for parents. Mr. Coley also hosts his own blog.

Some Thoughts

Both of our featured teachers will tell you that establishing and maintaining a website is astonishingly challenging, but both teachers will also speak about their passion for teaching and learning. If we want to teach our students how to cope with 21st century technologies, then we need to lead by example. What are your thoughts and experiences with classroom websites or other technologies used in your classroom?

Online Resources

http://sites.google.com/site/educ436537/home/teacher-websites is hosted by Pacific University in Oregon and provides a great deal of information about setting up a website, including examples and discussion on the topic

http://webschoolpro.com/ A free site to make a website with examples posted.

http://www.education.ky.gov/KDE/About%20Schools%20and%20Districts/Kentuckys%20Schools%20and%20Districts/High%20School%20Web%20Sites.htm This website is hosted by the Kentucky Department of Education and shows various high school websites

http://www.ccsd.net/schools/schoolWebsites.php is hosted by Clark County Nevada School District and is a searchable site for teacher/school websites

http://www.sitesforteachers.com/ provides a list of popular websites to link to.

http://newyorkscienceteacher.com/sci/pages/teacher-sites.php Great resources in science for your website

http://www.readwritethink.org/ and companion Thinkfinity.org are sites for literacy and technology.

 

2 Responses

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