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
This article was originally written in 2009. Some of the sites are no longer active, and there are undoubtedly newer and better sites and apps for tech-loving teachers now. Feel free to add them in the comments section.
Whether you’re looking for ways to incorporate technology into the classroom or into your daily life, the Internet has the tools you need. There are lots of free web apps and websites designed specifically for tech-loving teachers on a tight budget:
- VerbaLearn – VerbaLearn is a comprehensive vocabulary building site that uses audio, video, flashcards, and games. It is a great place for teachers to help students improve English vocabulary at home or school.
- Writewith – This free web app makes writing online a snap. Writewith allows you to upload documents, assign tasks, chat, collaborate, and track everyone’s changes and progress.
- Chalksite – Chalksite is a quick and easy way to expand your classroom onto the web. This innovative site allows teachers to assign homework, grades, messages, and more.
- Phonevite – Phonevite is a free online voice broadcasting system that can be used to send alerts, reminders, follow-ups, and cancellations to parents, students, and other teachers. The system works by sending your recorded message to your social media sites and pre-inserted phone numbers.
- Edmodo – Edmodo is a micro blogging site like Twitter but it is specifically designed for students and teachers. It can be used to send reminders, assignments, notes, files, and more.
- Oovoo – This free online video chat allows you to talk to up to six people at once. Oovoo is a perfect for teachers who want to conduct online conferences with parents or chat with colleagues.
- Classroom 2.0 – Classroom 2.0 is an online social network created for teachers. It is an excellent platform to discuss technology, find events, and collaborate with colleagues.
- Education World – Teachers looking for tools and templates to increase productivity in the classroom will enjoy Education World. This site has great features like assessment tools, awards, bulletin boards, calendars, and more.
- Empressr – Empressr is a media presentation tool that can be used to create classroom presentations with text, images, audio, and video.
- TeachAde – This free social networking site was specifically designed for educators who want to collaborate on projects and share lesson plans. TeachAde also features informational blogs and other tools teachers will enjoy.
- Moodle – This popular software package allows teachers to create free educational courses and websites. Moodle is a good place to teach an online course or create websites for students to study.
- Bubbl.us – Bubbl.us is a free web app that streamlines the brainstorming process. It can be used to create colorful mind maps, organize thoughts, and share ideas with the classroom.
- Evernote – Evernote lets you capture all your thoughts, lists, notes, assignments, and more across a variety of devices.
- TeachStrong – TeachStrong is an online learning community for educators with information, tips, and tools relating to digital technologies.
- FlashcardExchange – Any teacher that uses flashcards will love this high-tech alternative. FlashcardExchange can be used to make, study, and share flashcards online.
- Mikogo – Mikogo is a free screen-sharing program that allows teachers to have online meetings, conferences, or give students online support.
- Bookgoo – Bookgoo makes it easy to upload homework and reports and then highlight and annotate them online.
- Diigo – Ever wish you could highlight and add sticky notes to the web? Diigo lets you do that. This handy web app also allows you to share your finding with others.
- MyStickies – A better alternative to traditional bookmarking, MyStickies allows you to add digital sticky notes to web pages. Stickies can be sorted searched, edited, and browsed from any computer.
- Academhack – Academhack is an online blog loaded with tips and tricks for introducing new technology into academics.
- Notely – Although Notely was created for students, this web app can also serve as an online time management tool for teachers who need to get organized. Notely offers a calendar, to-do lists, a homework organizer, course manager, and a note taker.
- Web-chops – Web-chops makes it extremely easy to collect, organize, and share web content. Teachers can use it to display reports or present information to a class.
- Teaching Today – This site is created for teachers wishing to learn innovative new techniques for teaching. Teaching Today offers articles, lesson, tools, and an online community of colleagues for questions.
- 4Teachers – 4Teachers is a good website for teachers who want to integrate technology into the classroom. The site offers tips and resources to find web lessons, quizzes, and classroom calendars.
- Keep and Share – Keep and Share is a free and secure way to share files with your students. Things that can be shared include files, to-do lists, calendars, documents, bookmarks, and photos.