Yes! Another G Suite tool that can be utilized by your students! In this post, I want to share with you 7 ideas for using Google Sites in your classroom. Google Sites seemed to be on the backburner when it came to updates to G Suite. Now, it appears that Google is giving it the love it needs! It was only about two years ago that the first facelift happened. For a while, it was called New Google Sites, but I think we can forget about that name since we have Classic Google Sites.
Google Sites allows you to easily develop a website by adding pages and elements within the page. Users can choose from custom layouts that have different elements laid out in a nice view. Sites allows for a variety of embed content. All you have to do is paste in the code! You can also add in anything from your Google Drive to have visible and accessible right on the page! Its drag-and-drop functionality makes it easy to structure that even the youngest of students can find success!
So, without further adieu, here are 7 ideas for using Google Sites!
1. Digital Portfolios
The idea of a digital portfolio or e-portfolio has been around for a while. It is a space for a person to display their work in different ways. The most common type of portfolio that I have found is the showcase portfolio. This type of portfolio showcases a person’s best work. The other type is more of a growth portfolio. It displays artifacts that show the person has grown in a particular area.
Because of the seamless integration and ability to embed content (even a whole webpage!), Google Sites makes perfect sense for this! Students can choose to showcase their best work or present artifacts that show growth. This is a great opportunity for students to explain their thinking and reasoning behind displaying these artifacts.
I am currently doing this with my 8th grade students. We are working through a variety of projects as we learn different computer applications and skills. When students are finished, they post their projects to their Google Site and leave a reflection. We then are all able to view each other’s work and find inspiration for our next project. Because students are creating for a wider audience, their time and effort seem to increase.
I am learning about Hyperdocs and how to design them so that I can share with my staff another technique for delivering instruction. One of the best things about Hyperdocs is that you are not limited to using a Google Doc. You use whatever media you are comfortable with and will best deliver your content! Google Sites allows for quite a bit of flexibility in creating a Hyperdocs lesson. Videos, Docs, Forms, and other resources can be embedded right on the page, making it very easy for students to access the materials.
Often times when students are responding, we might have them add to a Padlet wall. Embed that wall onto your Google site to have everything in one location!
3. Book Reports
Often times the book report requires students to write. While writing is a great way to get some thought and detail out, it certainly limits some students to show what they know. Use a Google Site as a place for students to add a variety of elements to a book report. This could house a responsive essay on the elements of a story, but it might also show #BookSnaps of different sections of their book as they read it.
Include other aspects of the project here as well, whether that is recording a video or creating a lit trip because you can embed My Maps! One idea that I had for The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien was to create a travel site for Middle Earth. Students created a landing page that invited the reader to explore Middle Earth. Other pages included places to stay, highlighting the different locations where Thorin and Company stayed as well as restaurants. Other pages could include reviews from travelers or places to visit/avoid. It definitely pulls out some creativity and critical thinking as students interact with the text.
4. Passion Project
The idea behind a passion project is to help students learn about things they have a passion for. Sometimes this is called 80/20 time where 20% of class time is devoted to this type of learning. In order for students to showcase their work, they might need a clearinghouse as they create artifacts, collect research, and organize materials. Having a Google Site allows for them to begin building their final presentation while also allowing you to view the process.
5. Class Website
I love Google Classroom! It has been a game changer in the way that I create assignments, and it definitely has helped me become a more productive teacher. However, there are limitations with it in the fact that it is not an LMS. Google Sites allows you to do a bit more with your classroom organization. While you can add resources to Google Classroom, you and your students might find it more accessible to have a page that organizes the content, such as videos, docs, and external links. Check out Alice Keeler’s blog post on using the two in conjunction!
6. Research Projects
Researching a topic is a valuable skill, especially in our current time where information is so easily and quickly shared! Being able to decode what is fake news is a critical skill for a 21st century learner. Students also need to be able to find quality information as they dive into their learning, and then they need to be able to do something with that information. The traditional research essay is not always the most suitable option. I’m not saying that we need to ditch that altogether, but we can certainly enhance these projects with other forms of media. Plus, we can design for a more authentic audience!
A Google Site is a perfect place for students to present their research projects. The content lives on the web and can be shared all over the world, giving students the idea about designing for a global audience instead of just the teacher! Here are some additional components students might create for their research project:
- Infographics – These visual displays of information can pack quite a punch! Students can use infographics to display statistics or important topics of their research project. By providing a visual representation, students are synthesizing the information in a new way, and the information becomes more accessible to a wider audience.
- Slides – These are not just a presentation tool anymore, although they certainly do have that function. Students can put together a slide deck that goes with their research project. This could either be a “thick” or “thin” slide. A thick slide contains more text because it is meant to be a stand-alone slide deck for a reader. A thin slide is more of a presentation-type deck that is paired with the presenter’s oral presentation. Students could use a thin deck but also record their presentation through a screencasting tool, such as Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic, or by using AudioSlides by EdTechTeam.
- Video – Add another element by using video. The student might record an interview with an expert, create a commercial, or create some animation. Either way, Google Sites will easily allow the video to be embedded.
- Images – Sometimes we just need an image!
- Resources – Students can create more visually appealing resource pages through a Site rather than a bibliography at the end of a research paper. This easily gives the reader an opportunity to further explore the information.
7. Project-Based Learning
A big part of 21st century learning is in project-based learning, where students are giving a driving or essential question that guides the learning. Students are authenticly creating and thinking more critically as to how this problem relates to the real world. Students projects are not a recipe; rather they are given choice in how they learn and present their findings.
The Buck Institute for Education is a great resource for learning about PBL. Their graphic on the side represents the design elements that go into a PBL type of lesson.
Google Sites is an excellent platform for students to share their work and the process. Students can easily work collaboratively through the use of G Suite tools, and each student can add and edit the site to help publish the entire project. Because it is on a Google Site, it is now a public product. It can continue to be improved upon through critique and reflection, which is what we want students to do. Those are real world skills!
Google Sites continues to improve and it is a very accessible way for students to publish work on the web. By giving our students an authentic audience, we can engage them more thoroughly. We want our students to be active participants in the learning, and we should view them as active participants in society!