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Building My First Web Project and Web Page
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Each week, an educator takes a stand or shares an Aha! moment in the classroom in Education World's Voice of Experience column. This week, educator Brenda Dyck reflects on creating her first telecollaborative project and a Web page to go with it. Included: Join the discussion! Share your advice for educators who are about to set off on their first Web-page-construction adventures!


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I closed my classroom door and walked down the vacated halls of my school. Everyone had gone home for the summer holidays and I had just put the finishing touches on my first-ever telecollaborative project Web page. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to design and manage my own project, let alone create a Web page to house the resulting student work!

My telecollaborative project began with a small idea -- a social studies assignment that I thought might beef up my humdrum government unit. My sixth graders would brainstorm qualities that strong leaders might possess; then they would reflect on those qualities as they used Internet resources to learn more about former and current government leaders.

Join Discussion

Care to share your experiences as you learned to create a Web page for a class or class project? What resources did you find most helpful as you constructed that Web page? Click here to share how you got to the other side of the Web-page-construction learning curve so that your colleagues around the world might profit from your experience.

With hesitancy, I submitted my project idea to SchoolNet GrassRoots, a government organization that offers funding to Canadian teachers who create collaborative and interactive learning projects on the Internet. To my surprise, my project idea, I'm Leading, Is Anyone Following?, was accepted.

GET THE WORD OUT!

I needed to figure out a way to get teachers and their students to actually join the project and quickly realized that the Net was the ideal tool for locating teachers who might partner with my class. I put out a call for participation on as many education sites and listservs as I could. To my delight, six Canadian and three American classrooms joined in! I also heard from Caroline McCullen, editor of MidLink Magazine, an online education magazine. MidLink profiles online learning projects that reflect the creative learning process in technology-rich classrooms. Caroline invited me to post my project on MidLink Magazine's Web site.

I knew that the success of this project hinged on how well I could articulate the thinking behind "I'm Leading, Is Anyone Following?" To that end, I used the Yahoo eGroup feature to create an eGroup where the teachers I had recruited could share thoughts, resources, and suggestions for implementation. We used that tool to get to know one another and to iron out project glitches.

POSTING THE STUDENTS' WORK

Finally, it was time to build the Web pages. I was determined to bravely tread where I'd never been before. I was going to use FrontPage 2000 to create the Web pages, so I bought Ruth Maran's book, FrontPage 2000 Simplified, and followed the pictures step by step. I asked tons of questions and made just as many mistakes.

Soon the project teachers started sending student work to me, and I began to build the Web pages. As my confidence increased, so did my Web page plans. Plain Web pages were replaced with e-mail links, sounds, tables, and thumbnail images. I actually started to understand what I was doing!

By far, the most satisfying part of my first telecollaborative adventure was reading the student writing as it came in from Florida, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Alberta. It was amazing to me that distance had not gotten in the way of the learning. In fact, the project seemed to be enhanced by the distance and cultural diversity that each classroom brought to its submissions. The students' voices were there, along with evidence of higher-level thinking. The project had turned out just as I had envisioned it a year before.

The "I'm Leading, Is Anyone Following?" Web page stood as a testament to student learning -- and to my own learning as well!

RESOURCES

  • Brenda's and Robin's Tech Tips Brenda Dyck offers this "ultimate technology handholding guide," which they describe as "a year's worth of advice for making technology part of your teaching."
  • FrontPage 2000 Simplified This book, by Ruth Maran, presents step-by-step, full color instructions for using Microsoft's popular Web design package. A great resource for beginners!
  • Yahoo eGroups Learn to implement eGroups in your communication with colleagues and students at this resource from Yahoo.
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