Have you ever admired other teachers’ websites and wished you had the know-how to create one for your classroom? For years I wished I had a class website. I had tried my hand at creating one using both FrontPage and Dreamweaver, and even though I’m pretty good with technology, I gave up in frustration. The system my district provides is easy to use, but every site looks nearly the same. Then two years ago this past June, I stumbled upon Weebly for Educators. Within 30 minutes, I had a class website up and running that I was proud of. Today, I’ll share with you a simple solution to creating a class website that will definitely help make you a 21st-century teacher.
Why Create a Website?
Communication, Communication, Communication
Having my own class website has been a game changer in home-to-school communication, and that in my opinion, is the best reason for a teacher to create one.
Weebly allows an unlimited number of pages for your website. Parents in my class can always go to our class site to find the following and more:
It's Good for the Environment
For the past two years I have put my Welcome Back Letter to parents and students, as well as our suggested school supply list, on the site. This definitely saves paper and time spent at the copy machine. When the school sends out the back-to-school email blast to our parents, all I need to do is provide a link!
I have also been able to put all the information I presented at September’s Curriculum Night on the site, allowing me to ditch the folder and have a “paperless” curriculum night. I wasn’t sure how this would go over, but parents overwhelmingly approved. They preferred listening over shuffling through papers and they liked knowing exactly where to go whenever they wanted to find information. I even included a video on the site for parents who were unable to attend.
It's a Safe Place for My Students to Explore
I have created a section on my site called Kid’s Space. Divided by content areas, students can go there when they finish an assignment, and I know they will be working on something worthwhile. This is also where they go to log in to subscription programs and to find links for webquests or research. This section of the site provides great peace of mind, as I know my students are surfing the web in a safe manner.
While I thought the site would be a great tool to keep parents in the know, I never realized how far reaching the effects would be. As I've stated before, I teach in a very diverse area. Shortly after school began in 2011, my first year with my new website, I noticed hits coming from India, Germany, Japan, and Alaska — all places where grandparents lived. In April, I received an email from an uncle of one of my students. He told me that he had to move to India for work two years earlier, and thanks to my website, where he could look at photos and watch videos of the 3rd grade music performance and field trips, he felt as if he were able to be a part of his nephew's life. I had no idea my website would be a way for distant relatives to feel connected to the children in their lives, but it definitely was an unexpected benefit.
Another benefit? Because I am able to upload most of our weekly homework, students know they can no longer tell me they lost their homework or forgot to bring it home. I just say, "It was on the website."
Get Started on Your Own Website Now!
To begin, visitWeebly for Education.
- Choose a user name. This is not the name of your website, just the name you will log in with to edit your site.
- Provide a password you will use to log in and your email address.
- Agree to the terms and you are on your way to having your own website!
Step-by-Step Directions From Weebly
The experts at Weebly have put together a guide to walk you through the process with very easy to follow directions. You can follow the steps in order by clicking on the links below:
1. First Steps
In this section you will decide on your site and domain name, and select your design template from more than a hundred different choices along with fonts and colors.
- Your site name and domain name do not need to be the same. The name at the top of my site says "Mrs. Connell’s Class," and my domain name is www.geniaconnell.com
- When you create a free website with Weebly, you will have .weebly.com affixed to your domain name. (I eventually purchased my own domain name from another hosting site, so the .weebly isn’t there.)
- Part of the fun of Weebly is that you aren’t stuck with a design once you choose it. You can quickly and easily switch themes and opt for a different template.
2. First Elements: Text
Elements are what you will drag and drop your information into. If I want to write a paragraph with a title and a picture, I simply choose the two elements, Title and Paragraph With Picture and drag them into the body of my website.
3. First Elements: Pictures
You can upload photos at any time from your computer or Weebly’s free database of photos. When adding images, do be careful of copyright infringement. While I always like to do things on the cheap, I purchased a very reasonable lifetime subscription to ThistleGirl Designs so I could use her school-friendly images legally on my site.
4. Edit Your Header
The header is the top of your website that normally includes pictures and text. You add photos and change fonts.
5. Change Font Settings
Every theme has a default set of fonts that you can change if you like. Once you finish this step, you are ready to publish.
6. Publish Your Site
Once you’re ready to share your work with the world, publish your site!
You Can Always…
7. Add More Pages
8. Alter Layout
9. Start a Blog
A Summer Project: Making Your New Website More Than Impressive
Perhaps my favorite feature of Weebly is that there are endless options for personalizing and customizing your website to fit your needs, with no limits on pages or sizes of files you can upload.
If you have a question, Weebly Support can most likely answer it for you. They even offer live training sessions and if all else fails, you can send them an email asking for assistance.
Once you get familiar with all of Weebly’s features, you will feel like a true techie as you go in and update your site. Once I created my site, I spent hours that summer adding pages that would benefit my parents and students. I believe my husband may have used the word, obsessed.
Have a Wonderful Summer!
If you have always wanted a class website, but didn't know where to start, I hope you will give Weebly a try this summer. Please let me know how it goes in the comment section below along with a link to your site! I'd love to see it!
I purposefully chose this for my last post because, at least for me, summer is the time I can spend on little projects, like website building, that I can never seem to get to during the busy school year.
It has truly been an honor sharing some of the work I do in my classroom with you over this past school year. I hope you have picked up a few helpful tips, printables, or ideas. I know I certainly tried a few new things thanks to the wonderful posts written by my fellow bloggers and the suggestions that readers left in the comment section.
Wishing you a wonderful summer filled with family, friends, an alarm clock that goes off a little later each morning. ~Genia
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