Another Butterfly (This One is Ready to Fly)

5526aac5c8026b4123b8852d7d205513My Digital Learning Hub has undergone another transformation!  My hub is a Google Site located on the Dodd Middle School Website.  You can access it here: Ms. Garden. My site includes a Home page describing my position at Dodd and my enrollment in the IT&DML program.  I also have main tabs for Maroon Team Social Studies, Lesson Plans, Digital Tools, Culinary Club, and a Contact tab. My objective is to have content for students, parents, and peers.

I have revised my site numerous times and was running dry on ideas so I decided to get the advice of 3 different groups of people.  I spoke with teachers at my school and in the IT&DML program at UNH.  I spoke with our Technology Integration Coach (yes this is his real title). And I spoke with outsiders (family and friends not in education).  Each group had a different piece of advice for me.  The teachers suggested my site be more friendly, the tech coach wanted me to make sure my site was “safe,” and the outsiders all suggested I teach them how to do this.

MAKE IT MORE FRIENDLY: I started my edits with the Home page.  It felt a little barren with just text so I added a picture of my students on Neon Day after we won the school spirit cup. NEON DAY (1) I also added a lot to the Maroon Social Studies tab because my main audience is my students.  I added pictures of my classroom and a picture of our lockers.  Our lockers are very small and students often purchase large locker dividers and hangers that do not fit inside.  I also added drop down tabs for Student Exemplars, Schedules, and Team Newsletter.  In the future I plan to add more lesson plans, digital tools, student exemplars, and newsletters in order to add to the “stickiness” of my site and make it more friendly.  Images of student work and accomplishments also change the tone of my site from simply informational to a focus on the team and team pride.

I also added a whole new tab for Culinary Club.  This is the student group I created two years ago when we lost our culinary arts elective.  It is student run and they create amazing seasonal dished using very few resources.  Pictures from past events are included and I imagine students and parents will want to view this area of my website throughout the year as more events are added.

I also received feedback that the “File Cabinet” pages were not very user friendly so I updated them to regular webpages and linked the Lesson Plans directly to the respective Google Drive Folders. I also renamed my Multimodals tab “Digital Tools.” My feedback crew was not familiar with the multimodal term.  Email is the newest “Digital Tool” I cover.  This tutorial is meant for our student audience.  My team developed this lesson plan in response to a series of student emails that came across as rude and demanding.  As previously discussed in our coursework, there is an expectation that our students are digital natives and are well versed in email etiquette.  In reality our students do not know how to use email in the academic setting.

MAKE IT SAFER: The next edit was suggested by our Tech Coach.  He suggested I uncheck “allow attachments” and “allow comments” under the page settings on every page I created.  This ensures no one can add content to my site without my permission.Page Settings

He also suggested I obtain written parental permission before I include any student names on my website.  This is a work in progress as I need to develop a form for this purpose.  I also am considering creating a multimodal tutorial on Google Sites.  This would be a great way to increase my contact with other teachers around the topic of technology integration and eventually I would be able to incorporate website creation into lesson plans.

CAN YOU HELP ME MAKE ONE?: The greatest take away from my peer editors is that I now feel like I am able to make a website.  Even though my site is primitive, creating a Digital Learning Hub forced me to practice over the course of many weeks.  I can make a Wiki, a WordPress, a Weebly, and a Google Site.  I have the knowledge and the confidence to help others create a site.  Lesson learned.screen-shot-2012-05-15-at-1-45-36-pm