Sunday, May 23, 2010

Google Sites Rock!

The development and maintenance of a website used to be an expensive and complicated task that was not really embraced by many teachers.  The financial constraints alone posed a huge discouraging factor.  Creating a class website or page is now easier than ever.  Teachers now have the ability or organize and routinely update content, assignments, videos, and presentations for students in an easily accessible format for free using Google Sites.

Mr. Keith Devereaux, a science teacher, at New Milford High School, has been using Google sites over the course of the year to establish an information portal to the classes he teaches and as a way to develop engaging learning activities on particular topics.  You can view his main site here and one on electricity/magnetism here.  His AP Biology students are currently creating a Google site on the systems of the human body.    Certain coaches have also begun to create Google sites for their teams.  Mr. Greg Kelly, NMHS Physical Education teacher and track coach, created a Google site for the track and field program.  Here are some quick reasons why I feel teachers, coaches, and club advisors should have a Google site:

1.  Information hub (core curriculum standards, access to digital textbooks, notes, syllabus, proficiencies, etc.)
2.  Access to content 24/7.  Students that are absent can quickly and easily acquire missed assignments without having to ask the teacher upon their return.   This is also great for students that might have missed something during class, want to work on reinforcing the material at home or when away, and to prepare for tests/quizzes.
3.  Calendar of events (assignment due dates, meetings, practice/game schedules).
4.  Links to printable forms, assignments, etc.  Google forms can be embedded onto the sites as a self-grading quiz.  Polls and questionnaires can also be included to collect useful information.   View a quiz that Mr. Devereaux created using Google forms to go along with the Electricity and Magnetism Google site mentioned above here.
5.  Links to supplemental resources.
6.  Promote student achievements and accomplishments.

Google sites are also a great resource to use when delivering professional development.  Keith and I used a Google site during a March presentation on authentic-based learning environments and web 2.0.  Multiple Google tools and activities were inserted into the site, which was accessible to the participants before, during, and after the presentation.  The recent Google Teachers Academy for Administrators also used a Google site for the one day training. 

I think I have done a pretty good job outlining reasons why I think Google sites rock!  Please share any additional ideas you have in the comments section. For more Google app resources visit my Delicious page.


  1. Hi,

    I totally agree with you about google. Next year our whole sped dept will be inserviced on goggle tools and all of our sped kids will use google tools exclusively to keep themselves organized and learn 21st century skills

  2. We've been using Google Docs as our main repository of course documents and resources, as well as been using Forms as a means of online lab & activity submission. However, we've been crossing over by using Moodle as our base for creating online assessments (we find it to be more powerful than what we can do with Forms) and using Wordpress as the hub for our sites.

    Kudos to you for being a forward-thinking administrator and encouraging your staff to experiment and push the envelope. I hope that when I'm ready to move into an administrative role, that I've got the same attitude and fearlessness towards embracing new tools and technology.

  3. Great post Eric. But what's more important is that you have quality examples to share from teachers at your building. That's what teachers need to see, practical examples from teachers that are putting it into action. Every teacher, academic club, sports team, etc. should have a web page. In this day and age how could teachers not support students (and parents and each other) in this way? As a parent, knowing that there's information, resources, etc. on my child's teacher's web page as an extension of the classroom is so important. With so many great tools, especially Google Sites, this should be a no-brainer. Give Teachers quality PD they need to get them off the ground and set the expectation high. Awesome!

  4. My district adopted Edline and expects all of our teachers to develop, use, and maintain those pages. I opted to show my teachers how to use Google Sites for their class pages. They have really embraced it. Much like you describe, the easy of use and high quality examples has made a world of difference. Each and every teacher is able to fully integrate their page with their classwork and as a great way to communicate with parents.

  5. Very good post! I agree with Kyle about everyone having a page and the reasons for it. I also agree that quality PD and high expectations are important. That being said, unless the administration puts their full weight behind the project it will fail! (Unfortunately, first hand experience-& I was part of the admin team!). Parents saying they like the old way--paper! Or, they don't have time to check these sites. At my school we even made sure navigation was easy so parents could navigate to other teacher sites easily. And finally, as you mentioned in your post, keeping the site up-to-date is paramount! While I firmly agree with everything you stated, I guess I am still trying to come to grips on the best way to implement these tools successfully! There must be a way!

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience with Google Sites. I'm always inspired by innovators like you!

    I did a quick makeover on one of the sites (Mr D's classroom) and posted it on my blog. If interested, you can check it out here.

    Great work...keep it up, teacher need encouragement and examples!

  7. Great post! I use google sites and the other google apps almost everyday in my 6th grade math classes. We have created a Google Apps for Educators domain and will be utilizing it in our electives next year and then hopefully school wide the year after. Google has done wonders for schools by making all these things available for free!

  8. I love using google tools for a lot of things, but I've never used an actual website as a hub for my class(or myself), I have always just blogged. I guess I just saw that as easy. I'm new to using technology for my teaching because I'm teacher of under 5 years experience.

    This post is very effective and I will be checking out Google site in the near future.

    Thanks for being a forward thinking administrator. I hope that in sharing these resources your staff(and the teachers/admins everywhere that find this) will benefit from it.

  9. I like this! Our district recently started training teachers on Moodle, but there are a lot of complaints about how the interface has very little "personality." I would prefer to use something like this, but it seems as if we're all being encouraged to adopt Moodle as our medium for a web presence.

  10. Great post Eric. I too love Google Sites. Check this site out we created for North Carolina Virtual; I have created a specific section for PD for leadership throughout our state. Let me know what you think:

  11. We've embrace Google Sites at our school, giving teachers some professional development to learn how to use the interface. Almost every teacher has one now. I find that students using it are few and far between though, and parents seem to use it even less. Those that do use it, love that it's available--the tech embracers!

    I used a Google Site to run a discussion board assignment and it worked quite well. I set it to private with the students as collaborators for to address my school board's safety concerns; and parents are welcome to be added as viewers as well in case they have any concerns. I will be doing this again next year! Here's my link: