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A Planning Guide for your First Classroom Website

With increased school technology and constantly-connected smartphones, classroom websites are quickly becoming the tool of choice for teachers to showcase student work, communicate with parents, and share resources. Many schools have automatically-created teacher pages while other teachers wade through expanding platform choices to construct their own.

Despite the increased ease of using and sharing classroom websites, it took me awhile to get one started. In order for me to go from an admirer of other teachers’ impressive websites to making one of my own, I created a planning guide for keeping my website effective, safe, and manageable. After all, websites featuring student names or work means a whole host of teacher-specific concerns and privacy worry. How will you identify students on the site? Which student work should you include? How will you manage comments?

If you’re ready to tackle a website for your class or want to re-think the one you already have, here are a few considerations to help you get started:

District and school policies: Start by reading through your district’s policies for social media use and website creation. Although some schools have robust technology guidelines, others may leave most decisions up to your principal. Either way, a quick read through the policies will help you know what to avoid and what to keep your eyes out for as you plan your website.

Find Your Focus: A classroom website doesn’t have to do everything. Especially for newbies like me, it’s important to pick a specific focus before planning the details. Is your primary goal to communicate with parents? Do you want to focus on showcasing student work? Whatever you decide, your focus will help you determine what to include on your website and what you can do without. Since my primary goal is get students to write for an outside audience, I quickly eliminated the pressure to include homework links and calendar updates.

Find comparison sites: When you have a specific focus for your site, it will be easier to narrow in on sites you admire and determine what parts you want to mimic. For example, I love the way middle school teacher Brett Vogelsinger uses his blog to prioritize student writing.Using his site as a guide, I realized that student work doesn’t always need introduction or teacher commentary. To find comparison sites of your own, ask your colleagues for their favorite classroom websites or use compilation articles to find new ones.

Safety and use: Plan in advance who will be able to post content and how you will monitor commenting or if you’ll allow comments at all. Remember, you don’t have to roll out every part of your website at once. You might choose to start with no comments until you feel comfortable with a monitoring process. You’ll also need to decide how students will be identified and if you’ll be posting photos of student work or of students themselves. Either way, you’ll need parent permission slips that clearly outline your plan.

Editorial process: When you introduce a class website to students, they’ll want to know how work will be chosen for the site. Whether you have a student panel of editors or every piece is submitted through the teacher, communicate the process clearly to students by planning the details in advance.

Knowing how you'll rub your website and what your goals are will help you pick a website platform, keep the workload manageable, and communicate your ideas to parents and principals. Happy planning!


Written by Marissa King

Marissa teaches 5th grade at Tulsa Public Schools where she spills tea and misuses the coolest slang. She is also a Yale National Fellow.