Imagine with me. We’re right, smack-dab in the middle of the 1990s and little Buff is sitting in a classroom, middle row, three seats back. It’s notebook check time. Y’all remember, all the good teachers had notebook checks. They wanted to see all of my old papers for a grade in the true test of all tests to weed out the unorganized children of America. This unorganized child had a trapper keeper. A very messy trapper keeper. Are we still imagining together? Because every single time I leaned over the side of my desk to try to pull anything even remotely important out of my backpack…junk exploded everywhere. All hope of a good notebook check grade was lost somewhere in the bottom of my backpack, crumpled up in between the innards of a blown out hacky sack and assignments that may or may not matter.
You can stop imagining now. I don’t think I have to spell it out for you at this point, but obviously, I would make a really bad grade. And truthfully, notebook checks didn’t give me much value as a student.
Everything fun starts with NEW:
Teachers, what if we found a way to help students take authorship and ownership of the things they’re learning and creating in your class by urging them to, instead, make digital portfolios? It’s a part of their world (cue Little Mermaid sing-a-long), where they’re able to take actual physical things and add them as an artifact in their portfolio. You can actively cultivate full-on digital living in a really meaningful way.
Now, hear me out, Google’s Sites were originally made to be websites. But, we all know I tend to think a little differently. And when I initially came upon Sites, my mind started racing with ideas and I knew this avenue would make the perfect portfolio to store all the things your students have been working on in class.
The Nitty Gritty:
Within Sites, your students have options. There are different layouts to choose from, where photos and text can be added. The different aesthetic/themes are somewhat limited, but still, the variety is nice…and important for many of your students to use as a way to display their own individuality and personality. Again, don’t be surprised by the limited options. But, there are options, nonetheless.
Once the layout is set, your students can organize their site by class/unit and then they can begin to add artifacts. Artifacts are different documents, creative works, and tangible examples of what your students are learning. You can add artifacts under various separate units by embedding youtube videos or adding in documents, maps, slideshows, forms, sheets, images…you get the picture…THERE ARE SO MANY OPTIONS!
If you’re not into these portfolios being published, don’t write this innovative idea off just yet. These Sites are actually a file within google drive, so they’re easy to keep on the downlow and remain internal to just share with you, the teacher. And even aside from use as a portfolio, Sites is really great for individual projects, still giving students a chance to create and be authors.
You have the ability to create a space to ensure that your students have individual ownership of their learning. You’re not just walking through your classroom checking a stack of mountain dew stained worksheets just for the sake of giving them something to do, you’re adding value to their lives.
As the teacher, you can build a template already containing the separate units/categories you want to use. Once your template is ready, you then duplicate site/make a copy and share it with your students. When they open the Site, they will just make a copy to edit and add things on their own. And, voila! Every student has the same material and starting point!
For a visual complete tutorial of using Google Sites: The Perfect Digital Portfolio in your classroom, watch this little snippet here!
Now, you know I need to know…Are you already using Google Sites in your classroom? If so, how? Share some of your very own fun tips with me!