Ms. Kane, a 9th grade English teacher at Notre Dame School in Manhattan, understands the importance of authentic learning experiences for her students. She thinks outside the box, pushing her students to gain a comprehensive understanding of concepts. Recently, she took her students to visit The Dinner Party installation at the Brooklyn Museum, a feminist work in which female heroes from history and myth are “given a place at the table”. While the visit itself added another dimension to their learning, she wanted her students to interact with the work on a deeper level.
With the support of George Ganzenmuller, an instructional technology coach at Educate LLC, Ms. Kane developed an in-depth research project for the students to complete. After reflecting on the exhibit, students researched a female figure of their choice, noting their achievements and impact on the world around them. Synthesizing the information, they wrote strong proposals as to why their chosen figures should be invited to The Dinner Party. The final step in the project was to create a themed plate and runner which reflected the female figure.
The students used Google Sites to present their research and proposals to their classmates and the broader community. Ms. Kane created a “home” site, including a description of the exhibit and an explanation of their research project. Students had editing access to the site and created individual pages for their own variation on the project.
George was excited to share that the students were “highly motivated” by this project, as Google Sites allowed “…their work [to] be seen by a wider audience.” The “live” aspect of their final research encouraged the students to pay closer attention to detail and quality. The element of choice also provided multiple access points which allowed students to personally interact with the topic while practicing multiple skills.
Make it happen in your classroom…
- Google domain for the school (can be applied for by school leader/technology expert)
- Google accounts for teachers and students
- Device (laptop/Chromebook, desktop, tablet, etc.)
- Work with your school leader or IT person to be sure that your school has a Google domain and Google accounts for teachers and students. If you do not yet have a domain, Google can walk you through the process here.
- Familiarize yourself with the basic Google Apps: Google Drive and Google Docs. (These work in conjunction with Google Sites and having a basic understanding of them will benefit you greatly).
- Set up your Google Site, creating a landing page and an individual page for each student. I personally recommend using the New Version of Google Sites, as it is extremely easy to use and quick to set up. Need help? Check out this screencast.
- Share your site with your students by “adding” their email addresses, giving them permission to edit.
- Give students time in class to explore the features of Google Sites, including: inserting text directly into the page, inserting images/videos, inserting files from Google Drive, previewing their page, etc.
Don’t forget that if you’re ever feeling a little bit stuck, or you just need a thought partner, feel free to reach out to us in our new online community, the Innovative Teaching Co-op! (Check us out; we’ve gotten a facelift)!