Do you ever get lost trying to sort through the millions of educational websites coming your way? Curious about which sites are best to use with your students? Trying to figure out how to integrate technology without overwhelming your students by using too many websites?
I’ve been there. I regularly use several websites with students. Some focus on receiving information where students simply go to a site to read. Others focus more on creation and interaction. I use at least five sites for student composition on a regular basis. I’m often asked, “Are you sure your students can keep track of all those websites?” The answer: Yes.
These five simple tips help me think about which websites to use and how to manage those spaces with my students.
Every website has a different function. When selecting a website to use with students, consider learning opportunities the site provides. What value is added to student learning when using this site? What can learners do through use of this site? What can they create? How can learning objectives for students be met and exceeded with use of a specific website? How can this website engage students and help them take ownership of their learning?
I also think about the affordances and limitations for using this digital tool. What can students do in this specific space that they cannot do elsewhere? What learning experiences are not supported through use of this website? In what ways does the site support or not support authentic digital learning and writing?
I also think carefully about audiences for student compositions. Many teachers have students publish only final polished writing. Publishing final pieces is valuable, however, learning is also about conversation. There are other potential purposes and audiences for student composition in online spaces. Many websites have learning and audience goals focused on conversation and process. For instance, students can engage in a conversation around ideas they are researching or they could work on peer response of their writing.