Teacher Google Sites: Do you need one?

In the world of Google Classroom, what role does a Google Site play and should you add this to your beginning of the year checklist? We both know it’s a mile long.

Ever since Google Classroom rolled around, I often have teachers show up in my office with the question of what to do with their website, or if they need one?

Remote Learning & Covid-19’s ever evolving impact has something to say about this question and I have some advice on why & when to work this out.

But first, the NEW Google Sites Platform!

The platform itself is now located in your G-Suite for Schools and functions a lot like other Google Products. You can set one up by clicking here

The New Sites is an understated and simple web-based atmosphere that has pre-set themes that include your font and colors, we aren’t talking a ton of customization here for you web-site loving regulars. But if you are just looking for a place to host & post that is drag and drop and Google Friendly, it’s a great fit.

The hacks exist to make them colorful with your favorite fonts, like using Adobe, Powerpoint, Canva, etc. and saving your titles, headers, and other as pictures to drag and drop (A Primary Kind of Life has awesome tutorials for teachers on how to do this well). And I LOVE that I can show a Google Doc with my training Calendar, embed Google Drawings & other. Check out my school’s brief & simple Teacher Tech Site!

So the platform is simple, but do you need to use it at all?

I mean you’re already overloaded in places to put your content, assignments to post & more! So, why would you?

In my mind, Websites allow for a virtual Homeroom & Information Hub that Google Classroom can’t provide.

Even though Google Classroom has come a long way it still struggles to provide us with VISUAL queues for every learner and it definitely isn’t organized the way we might like it to be, even if you’re using Topics & Emojis in Google Classroom and doing the very best you can. Structurally speaking, Google Classroom isn’t intended to be a website, it’s supposed to be a means of assigning and collecting work through G-Suite itself.

Your site COULD BE

-a clear landing page for students to access your materials & links.

-an important place for students to learn more about you! Think about making a classroom tour to cure students of first day jitters, and providing the new way to share a link to join your Google Classroom here as well.

-a PORTFOLIO for exemplary student work from years past.

You might need a site especially if you are approaching this year feeling like students don’t know exactly where to go to access all of your online platforms.

We have our Online Gradebooks, Applications like Khan Academy, SeeSaw, Albert.iO, EdPuzzle, the list could go on and on, and on top of it we have school resources and announcements that kids need to consistently access. The “stream” quality of Google Classroom eliminates that as an option and even with a topic designated to important links, visually they may not stand out. If you had to make an assignment every-time you needed them to access one of these, our classrooms would be unbearable to scroll through.

Your need for Parent Communication may call for a Google Site too.

Depending on your current approach to parent communication (we don’t all do newsletters or use SeeSaw) a Site may be a great place to keep them up to date and informed.

Adding parents to Google Classroom as guardians gives them that Friday update, which is super valuable in terms of the what’s missing, what’s due aspects of our classrooms but it doesn’t answer the Whole Student or just Fun Updates that we might need. Using our sites to display exemplary work (especially since it works so well with all G-Suite to post slideshows, drawings, etc.) is a great way to shine a light on the learning! Even if you highlight one project or piece of work per quarter and only update it occasionally, parents might love that little bit of information.

I promise, I’m not adding one more thing to your list about just lookup the hashtag #googlesites on any social media platform and you’ll hear from teachers about how and why they love this tool!

Just look at the examples of @secondarycommentary on Instagram to see super appealing options. Most of all, let me know if you need any help in your Teaching with Tech Journey!


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