Sunday, January 17, 2016

If You Have a Classroom, You Need a Class Website!


Why is it so difficult to understand why teachers today must have class websites or use learning management systems, where they house their course content?  90% of our students’ lives are ‘on demand’.  The internet has become the first place where people go to get quick answers.  Student today do the same. They seek answers online.  The one important thing that they need that is usually not online is access to their teacher and their school work.

Digital grading programs have forced teachers to post student progress online.  This is helpful to parents but it can also be very frustrating.  By the time parents see their student grades online, it is usually too late to intervene.  So it is very important that the teachers maintain an online environment where they can post lesson objectives, tutorial videos, assignments description and assessment links to help parents see class processes and requirements in a timely manner.

Three weeks ago, my 7th grade son forgot his daily math worksheet in his locker.  We take homework time pretty seriously in our home, so when he informed me about what he had forgotten, he knew that this mistake was not going to be resolved with a simple ‘I am sorry’.  In addition, by the time we discovered this catastrophe, his school building was closed for the evening so we could not access his locker. This was going to cost him some of his video  game time privileges for the week.  

Lucky for him, his math teacher is thoughtful enough to have a class website where she posts these required worksheets.  Before i could start berating him about this lapse, my son accessed his math teacher’s website from his cellphone and printed a copy of the worksheet.  “Crisis averted!”  I was so grateful to his teacher for contributing to a peaceful and conflict free homework hour.

There are many other reasons why teachers should have an active, organized and navigable  online environment. To start, a class website

  1. is a tool that will help student be more self-directed.  Students can access their course content multiple time, anyway, anytime and anywhere.
  2. provides a transparency tool for the teachers.  Parents, board members, community members, and administrators can view the class content at any time.
  3. is a great place to archive student work as well as the amazing activities and happenings in one’s class.  What a way to market innovating learning ideas a teacher might be trying.
  4. provides access to printable course materials, videos and additional resources.
  5. is a great place to differentiate instruction to fulfill IEP (Individual Education Plans) and 504 plan requirements.

As a mastery learning specialist, I coach teachers to maintain fully loaded class websites that allow students to work at their own pace.  A mastery learning website has the entire course available to the student and the student is able to progress through the course content as they master the material.  This design is similar to most online university courses but it is created for 3-12 grade students so that they can differentiate their own learning.  Mastery teachers spend valuable instructional time working closely with small groups of students, assessing and observing student learning.  Most importantly, they can spend time facilitating dynamic, interactive and engaging activities that encourage hands on learning and long term research.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Matinga,
    A class website is an excellent idea for teachers, students, and parents. My daughter's school posts grades on a management system and yes, most of the time it is too late to solve the problem. A proactive approach is best. I also agree with the tutorials and worksheets added to the site. That will be very helpful to a student and a parent who may need a refresher. Do you encounter any resistance from the teachers? If so, what is usually the reason?
    Francesca

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  2. Matinga,
    I love your blog! It is so inviting and powerful. I wanted to tell you that I will share this post with the Principal of my daughter's school. I think that a classroom webpage is something that makes us feel connected, but beyond that, makes it really feasible for parents to support students in their academic development in a purposeful way. Thanks for this post!

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  3. Hello Martinga,

    I really enjoyed your blog. You provided me with some great information and a great idea to really stress to teachers I work with. This is such a useful tool for parents and teachers. Teachers can use this to make sure students stay in touch with expectations and assignments as well as their parents. I am going to share this with my granddaughters principal because some of her teachers are really bad about letting parents know what is going on in class. Knowing a child had a test or what assignments were due for the week and being able to access such information would really help my son and my granddaughters mother. Such a site would be so useful for my entire family who try to support her in school.

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