Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Add Google Sites to Your EdTech Toolbox

Why add Google Sites to your toolbox? Google Sites in your toolbox is a free website building tool that lives in Google Drive.
Add Google Sites to Your EdTech Toolbox

If your school uses Google Workspace tools like Docs, Sheets, and Slides, then you already have access to Google Sites. At first glance, you might wonder if this is just another tool to learn or if it’s truly worth adding to your EdTech toolbox. The reality is that Google Sites offers unique capabilities that complement and enhance the tools you are already using. It serves as a central hub, bringing together documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms into one cohesive and interactive platform. By leveraging Google Sites, you can create a more integrated and dynamic learning environment where resources are easily accessible and well-organized. This seamless integration not only simplifies the workflow for teachers but also enriches the learning experience for students, making it a valuable addition to your EdTech arsenal.

Google Sites is a website building tool. The sites save to Google Drive to make them easy to locate. 

Evaluating Tools for Your EdTech Toolbox

When considering new tools to add to your EdTech toolbox, it’s essential to be selective. Too many tools can overwhelm both you (teacher) and students. Here are some criteria to help you evaluate the tools worth your time and effort.

Student-Centered Focus

A key factor in selecting a new tool is ensuring it supports a student-centered approach. The tool should empower students, giving them a voice and ownership over their learning. Look for tools that foster engagement and creativity by allowing students to create, collaborate, and share their work.

Integration with Existing Tools

A great tool should integrate seamlessly with the platforms and systems you already use. This ensures a streamlined workflow and makes it easier to manage all your resources in one place. Check if the new tool works well with tools like Google Workspace, ensuring all your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations are easily accessible and well-organized.

Can Existing Tools Do the Job, or Do You Need a New Tool?

Before adding a new tool, determine whether it offers unique capabilities or merely duplicates existing tools. The new tool should complement rather than replicate the functions of your current tools. This ensures that you are not doubling up on functionalities and are adding value to your teaching toolkit.

Time to Learn

Adopting a new tool should not be a time-consuming process. The tool should be intuitive and easy to learn, allowing both teachers and students to get up and running quickly. This lets you focus more on teaching and less on troubleshooting.

Frequency of Use

Consider how often you will use the tool. A versatile tool that can be used frequently for various purposes, such as creating classroom websites, student portfolios, and project hubs, provides ongoing value and ensures it will be a regular part of your teaching toolkit.

Cost-Effectiveness

Budget is always a consideration. Look for tools that offer robust features without additional expenses. Free or low-cost tools that provide significant value can be a cost-effective solution for enhancing your digital capabilities without breaking the bank.

Sustainability Over Multiple Years

Investing time in a tool that will remain useful over the years is crucial. Ensure that the tool is backed by a reliable provider with long-term support and updates. Continuous integration with other tools guarantees that it will remain relevant and valuable for years to come.

Collaboration

Collaboration is essential in modern education. The tool should support collaborative projects, enabling students to work together in real-time. It should allow them to co-create content, share ideas, and present their work in a shared space, enhancing teamwork and communication skills.

Versatility

A versatile tool reduces the need for multiple niche tools. It should be adaptable to various educational needs, such as creating classroom websites, digital portfolios, project presentations, and more. This flexibility means you can reduce the number of tools you need to manage, simplifying your EdTech toolbox.

Ease of Use for Google Sites in Your Toolbox

Google Sites is a user-friendly, requiring no coding knowledge, making it perfect for teachers at all tech levels. The drag-and-drop interface allows you to create a variety of online spaces quickly, whether it’s a classroom website, a project hub, or a student portfolio. This simplicity lets you focus on what matters most: teaching and engaging with your students. Google Sites isn’t just about making things look good; it’s about providing a versatile platform to share resources, foster collaboration, and celebrate student work. It’s an great tool for any educator looking to enhance their classroom with technology.

Why Google Sites in your Toolbox

While Google Docs and Slides are also collaborative, Google Sites helps you and your students to bring it all together. First, as a Google Workspace user, it is FREE. Go to sites.google.com to create a new site. Secondly, it allows you or your students to share information with a variety of formats. Text, embed video, page navigation, hyperlinks, and more. If the goal is to communicate information, Google Sites might be a great choice. 

Google Sites Integrates with Google Drive

After creating a new site, double click to bring up a quick insert menu. Choose Google Drive and embed Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms easily. 

Caution: adding Workspace apps to Sites does NOT change the sharing permissions of the document. Be sure to make the docs anyone with the link can view or explicit to who should have access who is looking at the Google Site. 

Insert More with the Insert Side Panel

Beyond the double click for inserting things from Drive to Google Sites, the Insert panel provides many things to help you build your site quickly. You can easily add text boxes, images, and embedded content from YouTube, Maps, and Calendar. The panel also allows you to insert buttons for navigation, dividers for organizing content, and collapsible text sections to manage long pages effectively. Additionally, you can embed HTML and Google Forms, create image carousels, and add placeholders for future content. 

Create Tutorials for Your Classroom

Google Sites is an excellent platform for creating tutorials that can greatly enhance your classroom instruction. Whether you’re flipping your classroom or providing supplemental materials, Google Sites allows you to create multimedia tutorials that your students can access anytime, anywhere. 

By creating tutorials with Google Sites, you provide students with a valuable resource they can refer back to anytime. This fosters independent learning and supports students who may need extra help outside of class hours. With Google Sites, your tutorials are available with a web link that can be easily incorporated with your existing LMS. Look for the link icon in the toolbar to link to the specific page with the tutorial. I create different tutorials but on the same Google Sites. 

Step-by-Step Guides

Create detailed, step-by-step guides for complex topics or procedures. Use text, images, and videos to break down each step, making it easy for students to follow along at their own pace.

Video Lessons

Embed video lessons directly from YouTube or Google Drive. You can record your own lessons using screen capture tools or link to high-quality educational videos. Enhance the video beyond a video link by adding text, resources, Google Form quizzes, etc… 

Interactive Tutorials

Incorporate interactive elements like quizzes and Google Forms to engage students and check for understanding. This makes your tutorials not just informative, but also interactive and engaging.

Resource Links

Provide links to additional resources, such as websites, articles, and online tools. This helps students explore topics more deeply and find information from various sources.

Organized Sections

Use the layout options in Google Sites to organize your tutorials into sections or pages. This allows you to create a clear, structured learning path for your students, helping them navigate through the material efficiently.

Classroom Projects for Student Groups

Google Sites are great for student collaboration, whether working individually or in small groups. Students can organize different parts of their planning and formalize their presentations on Google Sites. Since Google Sites is a website, the project can be shared beyond just the teacher, reaching a wider audience if desired.

Creating and Publishing Google Sites

You can quickly create a Google Sites website by going to sites.new. For classroom use as a collaboration tool, note that Sites do not need to be published. Unlike Google Docs, where sharing is straightforward, Google Sites requires understanding two types of sharing: editing access and viewing access. Here’s a tutorial to help you navigate these sharing options effectively.

Click the Publish Button

To add collaborators to edit the site simply click the “Person plus” icon in the toolbar. Notice this has options for who can edit the site vs who can view the published site. 

Clicking the “Publish” button allows you to name the site but also “Manage” who can view it. 

Saved to Google Drive

Why add Google Sites to your toolbox? You want to find what you made, and you want it to be easy. Simply go to Google Drive and click on “Recent” or “Shared with me” to find sites you were working on or your students are working on. You can also filter your Drive for Google Sites. Easy peasy. 

5 Things to Try in Google Sites

Google Sites is packed with features that can enhance your classroom experience. Here are five lesser-known features to try out:

1. Embed Charts from Google Sheets

You can easily embed dynamic charts from Google Sheets into your Google Site. This feature allows you to display real-time data visualizations, which can be automatically updated as the data in your sheet changes. Use this to showcase class statistics, project progress, or other important data.

Create a chart in Google Sheets and select “Charts” from the Insert sidebar. 

2. Use the Announcement Banner

The Announcement Banner is a great way to highlight important updates at the top of your site. You can customize the message and background color to grab attention. Use this feature to remind students about upcoming deadlines, special events, or any urgent information.

Click on the settings cog at the top to set the banner.

3. Add Image Carousels

Make your site more visually engaging by adding an image carousel. This feature allows you to showcase a series of images that users can scroll through. It’s perfect for highlighting student work, displaying event photos, or providing visual instructions.

4. Utilize the Table of Contents

If you have a lot of content on your site, the Table of Contents feature can help organize it. Automatically generated based on your headings, it provides quick navigation links within a page. This is especially useful for lengthy tutorials or resource pages.

5. Integrate with Google Forms for Interactive Content

Google Forms can be embedded directly into your Google Site to create interactive surveys, quizzes, and feedback forms. This integration allows students to submit responses without leaving the site, making it easy to gather information and assess understanding in real-time.

Tip: double click and instead of choosing “Drive” select the <> embed icon. Simply paste the link to the Google Form to quickly embed it. 

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