Web Design by Google

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For our course 5 final project, my partner, Lindsay and I decided to revamp our unit on the graphic novel, Persepolis. We updated the presentation of the content by switching from the old print media with images to the snazzy new Google Sites. Pretty pleased with the results, I decided to try out Google Sites with my 10th grade English classes. Stay tuned for those results…

21st Century Skills

In reflecting on this project, I think the best part about the revamp was Google Sites. I just had no idea that creating a website could be so easy, and at the same time, look so professional and polished. The judges, Alexis and Andrew, were both effusive in their praise of all of the Sites. Alexis noted that the project measured two very different skills: one, the ability to deliver content in a clear, concise and easily understandable way and two, the ability to organize and design the content with the aesthetic in mind. One of the students I interviewed added to this sentiment, saying that she felt this assessment felt more like something she would do at a real job, as opposed to, say, writing a 5-paragraph essay on a book. (Note: as an English teacher, I felt it was my duty to try and convince her of the life-long benefits that learning how to write an essay can provide. I think I was successful. 😉

Authentic Tasks

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My other favorite part about the revamp was the fact that we had two outside judges as the audience for the task. It seems simple (and it is, really), but the effect this knowledge had on my students was striking. It added an impetus to their work that I have not seen from many second semester seniors and appeared almost to give them a second wind. It would seem then, that adding that component of authenticity does in fact make a task more meaningful and therefore engaging. As soon as my students knew the votes were in, they were dying to know which class’s Google Site had been chosen by the judges. It was refreshing and fun to see the students so excited about something that seemed, at first, to be so insignificant.

Challenges

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One of the challenges that we faced and I mention in the video is that of source citation, specifically images and videos. For some reason, students of all ages and sizes have an aversion to citing images (maybe because it seems so convoluted?), so this was a great time to refine that skill. Luckily, here at AIS-R, we are blessed with the best librarian in the world. After creating a LibGuide for our students, Kelly hosted a workshop on how to properly cite images and videos.  With her help, students were able to produce complete and accurate lists of the sources they used, including those oh-so-challenging images and videos.

Final Thoughts

As I think back over the last two years, I am struck with how much I have learned to actually DO, and then transferred that new knowledge to my students and asked them to also DO. From blogging, to elements of design, to properly citing images, the skills I have learned are really invaluable in this new age of technology. The final task, using iMovie (gasp!), was one of my greatest feats and I am quite proud of what I was able to create. And so, without further adieu, my final project…

 

*All images are my own.

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