Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Class Website

You know those people who would rather keep a to do list on their desk just for the purpose of being able to cross things off as they are completed? Yeah, I'm one of them. I even go crazy with color coding sometimes! Despite the fact that I'm gingerly walking out into the world of blogs, I've actually been pretty with it in terms of class websites for awhile.

About ten years ago, I created my first website through Scholastic Class Pages. I loved it! It was easy to manage, looked really professional, and kids (and grandparents) could successfully navigate it. I never could decide what my favorite feature was. I loved the safe, online games as much as the fact that I could reset it to show the same field trip information for the next school year. However, last summer Scholastic changed Class Pages to Blogs. The Class Pages were taken down and I was left with a giant internet and few ideas. I mean, really, who blogs??? Or so I pondered...

I knew that I didn't want to pay for a class website. Nice people call me frugal. It's called budgeting, but I'm happily identified as cheap. Anyway, I ended up trying out Educator Pages. It was free, fun, and easy to manage, too. However, I just didn't have all the sparkling bells and whistles I was used to in the free version. So the search continued.

Just recently, a friend told me about Shutterfly Share Sites and I fell in love. I love the fact that I can secure it and accept members by invitation only. I personally feel more comfortable sharing student photos just within our classroom community. The site is completely customizable and quick to change. I have added about 15 pages of information from our class calendar to our class blog to our class share schedule to reading, math and grammar help pages. The bonus is that parents can pick and choose any photos off of the class site to purchase through Shutterfly, whether individually or in book form. It's awesome! Below is an example of information on one of the pages, although the graphics didn't transfer. Did I mention this is only post #4 or #5?? :)

Voices from Home

I invite you to participate in my Voices from Home program. I believe great teaching comes from setting great examples, both at home and in the community. Voices from Home gives the students a chance to see an adult modeling how to read aloud, how to speak in front of a group, and how to answer questions. It also serves as a wonderful opportunity for them to learn about the various educations and jobs our parents have.

It's easy! All you need is to volunteer about 20 minutes of your time. You can bring a picture book to read to the class or I'm happy to lend you one. Then, you introduce yourself, read the book aloud, and answer a few questions about yourself. It's very similar to our T.E.A.M. Star presentations, except you're the star! In order to allow each parent a chance to visit us, I can to schedule you at the beginning or end of the day.

I can even add a secure sign up sheet for something like Voices From Home that the parents complete online. I just wish I'd found Shutterfly Share Sites a year earlier.

*Bonus points for exceptionally cute templates to choose from.


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