Liz Little expressed interest in having her students create digital portfolios using New Google Sites while participating in professional development (PD) on instructional technology this past summer. Now that the school year has begun, her sixth grade math and science students at King Middle School are already writing reflections about their learning and posting them on their websites.
Introduced in November of 2016, New Google Sites is an easy way for students and teachers to create polished and professional looking websites. Google Docs, Slides, Forms, Sheets, Maps, Drawings, videos, and more can be embedded and visually displayed on New Google Sites with just a few clicks. Objects can be rearranged and resized. Since it’s a living document, New Google Sites are easy to access and continually update.
Liz launched this ongoing digital portfolio project with her students after their first visit to the Edible School Yard in mid-September. She had taken photographs during the visit, airdropped them to her computer, and then uploaded them into a folder in her Drive which she shared with her class.
Liz announced to her students that they were going to start building their portfolio website and posted the first assignment in Google Classroom. Students did not need an in-depth tutorial on how to use New Google Sites. Rather, as each student accessed their own Sites file, they quickly figured out how to maneuver around the platform. Excitement filled the room as students discovered how to customize the banner with their own images, to resize and crop photos around their text, and to write their reflections over images. Students explored, shared, and learned from one another. Within a class period, students personalized their websites, wrote reflections about their first visit to the Edible School Yard, and completed one full page of their portfolio. They used their creativity and they created.
Since that first day, students have already added new entries and pages to their portfolio website. As the year progresses, students will have more work to publish that documents their thinking and learning.
Other teachers have also been experimenting with New Google Sites. In addition to teachers who have created class websites (with resources for students and their families), Claire Dugan’s 4th grade students at Cragmont Elementary published reading blogs and their digital projects using New Google Sites last year. Lisa Caswell’s 1st graders at Malcolm X recorded themselves reading picture books and the 4th graders at Emerson in Holen Robie’s and Karen Carter’s classes recorded screencasts of their book club presentations last spring. Eric Silverberg and Mary Ann Scheuer, TSAs for Elementary Library Services and members of DigiTech, published this student work using New Google Sites to share it with the larger school community. Kevin Anderson’s sixth grade humanities students created newsmagazines in New Google Sites featuring news articles, features, and photos for the King Middle School community at the end of last year.
New Google Sites can be used for digital portfolios, collaborative projects, research projects, and more. If you’re inspired and want to learn more about New Google Sites, please reach out to these teachers, your tech teacher leader, and/or Allison Krasnow and me.
– Mia Gittlen, K-8 Instructional Technology TSA