Web building projects for students

I’ve posted earlier about simple ways to make webpages as a teacher or with your students. In this post, I’ll discuss how I’ve made a project out of it. I broke it down into 7 steps and included a section on assessment at the end. The steps and assessments I used were all employed with the green monkey website my students and I did.

Monkey

Step 1: Select a topic to create a site with that is relevant to your students and could make a difference to the world at large.
– I have always been a very green person, so I chose to use recyclying/etc. as my topic
– The students came up with the green monkey mascot for our site

Step 2: Research the topic; assign groups or individuals to specific areas
– I am all about book research. While I still let my students use the Internet for research, I prefer that they use books. The material is generally more reliable and you don’t have to sift through so much junk. If they need specific information on a topic, the Internet can be more useful.
– When I had 5th graders, we read a packet together and then I got a bunch of books from the library on recycling that students pulled information from.

Step 3: Design a template with input from your students
– While I don’t want to stifle kids’ creativity, a website with a different layout on each page can look pretty disjointed.
– I like to create a template in iWeb or NvU to get the kids started. I let them vote on the colors and fonts and we talk about what we want to include on the pages.
– I recently tried out google pages and found it to be a simple alternative the the other programs mentioned. They have plenty of pre-formed templates.

Step 4: Have students take pictures and make a rough draft of what their page will look like
– Pictures really tie the website together and the students love taking the pictures themselves
– Having the students write and draw out exactly what will be on their page speeds the process up when they actually make it. This is where the template comes in handy too.

Step 5: Have students write the page. For more help on this see my post on student page making.
– If you’ve got a good template (I like the 2 picts and a block of text), this isn’t too bad.
– Students type in their content, add their pictures, and they’re done (they’ll probably all have to use the same computer if you’re using iWeb – there are some workarounds, but I just let them go on the same computer one group at a time)

Step 6: Publish your page
– You may have to buy a domain and hosting service if you want it to have it’s own name. This might thwart some folks, but it gives the students more ownership and the teacher a higher degree of freedom to change and manipulate things.
– Get some help from your tech person and add it as a link to your school’s site.

Step 7: Present your site to others
– Go to other classes in your building
– Present at other schools in your district
– Send a letter about it to schools in other cities

Assessment – There are innumerable ways to do this. To be honest, I didn’t grade the final product because the grade wasn’t the point. I only graded the work they put in along the way.
– I used a simple rubric for research. They needed at least two sources and had to have 5 facts from each source. The 3 categories (Sources, Notes 1, Notes 2) were each graded on three point scale.
– The rough drafts were graded on a similar scale based on the elements in the template.
– I gave one final score based on how I observed them working with other members of their group. Each group member also evaluated the other members in their group and I added this in as a small component of the participation grade.

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