How a Teacher Can Create a Community Website
As a teacher, it is your job to not only come up with meaningful lessons and prepare your students for future challenges, but also to help them learn to interact with the world around them. One of the best ways to do this is by creating a community website that is both useful to your students and interesting to their parents, your colleagues and perhaps members of the community. Reaching out to the community online can provide your students with benefits that include attracting speakers to your class, getting the word out about any supply needs, or enabling you to find local mentors for your students. The concept of creating a community website may be a bit daunting, but the following advice may help you in your endeavor.
Where to Host the Site
While some school districts provide Web space for these types of sites, they are few and far between. This leaves you with a couple of options. For many teachers, creating a Web page on a social networking site may be sufficient. A blogging site such as Blogger gives you plenty of room to share classroom news. The design options are relatively limited for free accounts, but if you are looking for function rather than form, it’s a great choice. The most popular social networking site is Facebook. Depending on your needs, this could be an excellent choice. The ability to share news, posts, pictures and other information with others is unsurpassed. There is also a blogging platform developed especially for educators called Edublogs. However, there is a fee attached to this option.
If you want the most flexibility possible, paying for a hosted page is an option. There are hosting sites that cost less than $5.00 per month. A hosted page will not only give you more design options but will allow you to choose your own domain name. Even if you are nervous about your design skills, this may work for you. Using WordPress, for instance, allows nearly anyone to create a Web page with minimal effort.
Tips for Content
Just creating a page is not enough. If you want to encourage people to read, participate and get involved, you need engaging content and a good design. Keep the following tips in mind each time you post and you will more likely build your readership.
- Coordinate the colors, design and photos used on your site. Even if you have the best possible content, an unattractive site will be less appealing.
- Include useful links for your students and their parents. They will come back again and again to revisit this section.
- Add a section to the page about your needs. Perhaps members of the community would be interested in helping out — if only they knew what you needed.
- Proofread your page and make sure the information stays up-to-date.
- Update regularly to encourage repeat visitors.
There are a lot of things to think about when creating a community website for your classroom. Be sure to speak with other teachers who have created their own sites and ask their advice on how you can get started.