Recently I was talking to a group of teachers in my school district about the difference between Google Classroom and a class website as a communication tool. We know that Google Classroom is an excellent tool for creating a paperless workflow for the classroom, but that doesn't help parent communication (I know that we can send guardian summaries, but that's not the same as a website).
Enter Google Sites. Google Sites gives educators the ability to quickly create a website to share a class calendar, useful links, and folders of course notes, copies of homework and scoring guides, and everything else parents need access to in order to get a clear picture of what's going on in your classroom. During the discussion I mentioned above, a teacher interjected, "but JP, keeping up a class website is so much work. I mean, not many parents will even use it." Herein lies the beauty of using Google Sites. If you are already using Google Calendar (probably the one associated with your Google Classroom Class) and organizing files in Google Docs, we can insert those items in a Google Site and let the magic of Google do all the work so that you only have to go to your website once a year!
If you are going to use Google Sites to create an automatically-updating class website I suggest you include the following sections:
Short Welcome Message
Write a short, generic welcome message to keep on the front page of your site with an image that will fit the entire school year, probably a school or classroom logo. Keep in mind that the goal of this website is set it up and forget it, so don't write a seasonal message, reference how long you have been teaching, or the awesome first week of school activity you will be doing.
Since the target audience for your website will be parents and students, create and embed a Google document with links to resources that will help students and parents throughout the school year. As that list needs to be updated, open the document in your Google Drive and update it. Like magic, the update will also appear on your webpage.
When you create a class in Google Classroom, Google automatically creates a calendar for that class and adds all due dates to that calendar. Take advantage of this and embed that calendar on your webpage, going to Google Calendar to add any other dates parents might need to know about.
In your Google Drive, create a folder for your class, then sub-folders for each quarter and/or units of study. Then, add notes, resources, student guides, scoring rubrics, and whatever other documents you need to share to that folder throughout the year. Parents and students will have access to view, download, and print files as needed.
Pro Tip: Add a file to multiple folders by clicking the file, then hitting Shift+Z on your keyboard.
Watch the video below to learn how to create a magic, automatically updating class webpage with Google Sites.
How else can we use the magic power of Google Sites be more efficient? Share your thoughts in the comments below.