An online classroom
The snapshot above is from the online space I use for a Pre-AP English class I teach at EIS. This site is an essential part of how I organize instructional materials and facilitate all of my classes. Although it is not available publicly, students and parents can access the site from home or phone. I have highlighted some of the aspects of the page that I like.
A. The left margin is all business. There are built-in links to other Edline pages for schools, classes, extra curriculars, etc. There are also links for accessing student information, taking attendance, and keeping grades. Edline is a gateway technology for many teachers at EIS. Once they realize the benefits of having an online space, I can get them to explore other web tools. One of the most popular extensions has been from Edline’s MyContent to GoogleDocs, which makes their documents revisable and transferable.
B. Images are always nice. The image above depicts a scene from Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye. It is from this site.
C. I like to list some of the essential questions for a unit in the center of the page. The questions are a good reminder for students and for me that the work of understanding literature and rhetoric is really a means to develop our worldviews.
D. At the very least, a class website should provide a calendar to help students manage their responsibilities. The really important part about the Edline calendar is that it is synced with calendars for other classes. Each student can see one calendar with input from all of their classes. Teachers can also see if their assessments are overlapping. (A similar scenario could be achieved using a Google calendar.)
E. The top part of the right margin is where I publish files for assignments, readings, and rubrics. I use GoogleDocs instead of .doc so that students can download the files and edit them to take notes or complete assignments on their computers. I have also started using GoogleForms for in class assignments and personal reflections. While I usually get frustrated that Edline is not open to the public, the fact that it is private allows me to upload things like AP practice tests and other materials without violating copyrights.
F. This class website is just the starting point for my classes. It is designed more for facilitation than instruction. The links section is the outlet to the web 2.0 tools, like Ning and Twitter, that really get students inquiring and innovating in authentic ways.