After meeting with Katie to see how she was using the site, I realized that Weebly would provide much flexibility for use in the classroom. It has a variety of features that make it a useful tool for sharing and collaborating. Weebly allows me to:
- design my layout
- link to sites using buttons
- add photographs, slideshows, mosaics
- embed YouTube videos (safely, students are kept on Weebly site)
- embed html codes (useful for Shelfari, etc.)
- attach documents
- add text and format
- arrange pages
- have secure/public pages
- and much more!
Here's how we're using the site:
- To share general information: Our home page, Merely Learning Together, allows me to share general information about the learning in our classroom. At this time, this page shares information with parents and others hoping to find out more about the learning going on in our classroom.
- For shared blogging: We are using our blog page on Weebly to share weekly news about our learning. At the end of each week students write a "family news" page to share at home. On this page they share something important they learned, a new accomplishment, or big news from our week. We use individual news to discuss all we have learned and accomplished in the week. The class then chooses one topic to share "with the world." Together we plan, write, and add photos to the post. Discussing our posts and photo choices provides opportunities to discuss internet safety. This shared blogging opportunity is helping students to learn about the purpose, planning, and composing aspects of writing a blog. I think this will make our transition to Kidblog much easier. Having an open blog also allows us to share our learning with others classrooms we are joining in learning.
- For collaborating with other learning communities: Weebly has worked well for centralizing our learning to share with others. I've been able to add links to Twitter, Shelfari, and other collaborative platforms we are utilizing to work with other classrooms. We are able to follow other classrooms to find out what learning is happening around the globe.
- For students: One of the things I really liked was the way Katie was using her webpage to for parents AND students. Her students were linking to sites from her webpage. The class webpage was a "home base" for everyone and the information that needed to be shared. I've created Symbaloo content mixes to provide extra learning opportunities for students. I was able to embed these mixes into our site to allow students to use these links for learning.
- For secure sharing: By purchasing Weebly Pro (something I do not normally do, but was well worth it in this case), I now have the ability to have public and private pages. I've added pages to our website that remain secure. These pages are perfect for sharing photos and work examples with parents while keeping safety in the forefront.
- To share important dates with families: Embedding a Google calendar into Weebly was a snap. I'm able to select the calendar(s), I'd like to share on the site and the calendar automatically updates when I add new events.
- For individual student pages: Weebly includes the opportunity to add student accounts. As the class becomes more tech-savvy, I look forward to the possibility of having students add their own webpages to our site. These pages will allow students to attach files, publish digital writing pieces, link to blog posts, link to VoiceThread work, and other examples of work to illustrate their learning journeys.
I'm sure there are many more ways I will discover I can use Weebly. It's been well worth the investment so far.