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Guest blog post by Matthew Winters

When I first learned that my school was going to distance learning, I immediately had a great idea.  I teach English classes and our fourth quarter project is to choose a topic in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and build a research blog on that topic.  Then we create a genius hour project to help solve an issue within their topic.  

Students Create Their Own Google Site

For our assignment over the next two weeks, I have students create their own Google Site.  Now this is a project that we have done before in my classroom, but some teachers might have limited experience in making a Google Site, a WordPress Blog, or another web site. Below is a video I made for my school on how to use Google Sites. 

After students choose their topics, they start to build their posts. They are required to do research on their topic and provide a multimedia experience for each post.  With Google Sites, users can add videos, maps, embed websites, create slideshows or picture carousels, or add any existing or created Google file. It is a powerful suite of tools that gives students the ability to create effectively in a digital space. 

Each post, which students are responsible for three posts a week, is required to have the following:

  • 250 words about their topic
  • At least one photo
  • A multimedia object
  • An MLA citation for at least one article they read for the post

Each one of these requirements allow students to flex their English muscle and build something that is usable once we return to school.

Some of the extensions that I have planned are making their own media using WeVideo, Online Voice Recorder, or Adobe Spark. Each of these tools, which are free to students and teachers, can help students to record video or audio, edit and revise that media, and finally post it for others to view.

Again this is something that my students have done in the past and it flexes their speaking and listening muscles that are so important in K-12 education.

Students are also going to create graphic designs for their site using Adobe Spark coming up and that can give students a way to add creativity to their Sites, but also step into a role as a graphic designer, which is an essential part of our online world. 

There are lots of ways to get students to produce writing and engage their informational writing skills during distance learning, but this plan adds in creativity, media creation, speaking and listening skills, and engages student choice.  

If you have any questions, please email me at matt@teacherwinters.net. Thanks!

Matthew Winters is a teacher at Wahlquist Junior High School in Ogden, Utah. He teaches English and is Wahlquist’s Instructional Technology Coach. He writes a lot at teacherwinters.net for SongEDU, a blog about how to use music in education, and Quest in the Classroom, about adding VR to classrooms. He also tweets at @TeacherWinters

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