When students walk into your classroom what do they see around the room and on the walls?
- Posters about classroom procedures?
- Posters about important concepts or future careers?
- The daily/weekly schedule?
- Examples of excellent student work?
- Pictures from classroom field trips?
- Learning objectives/standards?
- Extra handouts in a file folder?
- Your desk with a few photos of your family?
I hope you answered yes to a few of the above (at least you are there right?).
When students visit your website, what do they see?
For many teachers, the answer to this question is quite different. However I believe that if we see our website as an extension of our classroom, we stop seeing the website as extra. It is just like moving from a class that had only three walls to four walls. There is now more space for you to hang stuff up, but it doesn’t mean you have to change all that much. The kinds of things you can do in a physical classroom you can do on/in your website. Your website gives you a chance to connect to students, provide information, set expectations, and communicate with parents.
Why do you hang stuff on your walls?
Classroom walls have been recognized as important to educators for a long time 🙂 You usually have a central focus which is a board or a screen to write/display information like schedules or the days instruction. However, the other areas of the walls are not ignored. They are decorated to create a sense of place, to give students a sense of pride and belonging, and to set the tone of the learning that you know will happen inside those walls. We decorate them because we know students will be in our rooms looking around.
Kids are online looking around
Many of your students and parents are active online. They use the web to find information (like restaurant/movie reviews), do work, and socialize. Your website is a chance to provide them with important messages and give them an impression about you and the class. Additionally if your website is interactive (Moodle, Blog, Wiki, Ning) then your website can be more than just a wall but an extension of the entire classroom.