Practicing New Literacies through Website Creation

Purpose:

For a high school summer program I taught, I wanted my students’ work to extend beyond the classroom walls and have potential to reach a meaningful audience. I wanted them to engage in a project that they believed held purpose.

*Aligned with the Connected Learning approach

Objectives:

By allowing my students to create websites on topics of their choice, they became invested in learning and practicing new literacies skills I wanted to address.
*Guided by the Online Reading Comprehension Assessments (ORCA) skills: locate, evaluate, synthesize, communicate

Process:

Throughout the course students:

  • Explored the purpose of websites
  • Designed and created sites using Wix or WordPress
  • Learned how to effectively search for information online
  • Grappled with how to apply fair use
  • Practiced determining the credibility of sources
  • Synthesized information from different websites
  • Shared their sites at a final event (some continued to use their sites for work or school)

Student Website Examples:

Challenges:

  • Teaching and ensuring the protection of private information
  • Explaining and enforcing fair use
  • Technological setbacks (internet fails, forgetting to save work, passwords, etc.)
  • Attending to individual students working on different projects and requiring different needs

Further Questions:

1) Do you have ideas about ways you could incorporate website creation into your curriculum?

2) What hesitations do you have about giving a website creation project?

3) Are there components of the project I shared that you could incorporate into your instruction?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

The Aspen Task Force’s Key Principles for Learning and the Internet

Alternatives Website Creation Sites:

  • Edublogs – only supports educational content so it usually isn’t blocked by school filters, there is an option to keep blogs private, ads are allowed on free version of site
  • Kidblog – doesn’t advertise to kids, doesn’t ask for their emails and gives teachers full moderation power, but design features are limited
  • Weebly – has an education version that allows teachers to manage student accounts

The Media Education Lab offers many resources for teaching copyright and fair use to students. I used their “What’s Copyright?” and “User’s Rights” music videos in my class.

Project Look Sharp provides media literacy curriculum kits that include lessons that critically evaluate websites pertaining to specific content areas

Our Class Website Project Rubric:
Portfolio materials:
_ [2] Goals for 2013
_ [2] Topics of Interest
_ [2] Research Agenda
_ [2] Website Template (blank paper folded in four)
_ [2] Website Purpose
_ [2] Website Schedule
_ [4] Research Process
_ [2] Research Summary
_ [2] Reflection
Portfolio total: out of 20
Your website must have:
_ [4] At least four pages
_ [4] A title on each page
_ [2] A working navigation
_ [5] Text informed by research on one page
_ [5] One piece of media created by you (photo, movie, song, etc.)
_ [4] Attributions (cite where you got photos and information from)
_ [2] A clear purpose
_ [4] Consistency with your portfolio planning materials
Website total: _ out of 30
Project total: _ out of 50

Individual Worksheets Used in Class:
Website Purpose
1. What is the specific purpose of your website?
2. How is the purpose of your website unique and different from other websites that already exist?
3. How do photos or videos support the purpose of your website?
4. Give one example of how you can add value/repurpose a photo on your website you found online
Website Schedule
In order to complete your website by the end of this course you need to set deadlines for yourself. Use this worksheet to plan what you plan to accomplish by the end of each class day. Make your goals realistic and stick to your plan!

  • I have already finished…

Wednesday, July 24 (35 minutes of in class time)

  • By the end of class I will be done with…
  • On my free time I am going to work on…

Friday, July 26 (40 minutes of in class time)

  • By the end of class I will be done with…
  • On my free time I am going to work on…

Monday, July 26 (One hour of in class time)

  • By the end of class I will be done with…
  • On my free time I am going to work on…

Wednesday, July 28 – Present website to the class

  • I am nervous about completing…

Research Process
1. How will research be important to your website?
2. What information are you looking for? What is your main research question?
3. What search engine are you going to use?
4. What search words will you use?
Research Summary
What is your research question?

  • Source 1
    • Search words used:
    • What is the URL of the website?
    • Copy and paste information from the site that is useful for you:
    • Now summarize the above text in your own words below:
  • Source 2
    • Search words used:
    • What is the URL of the website?
    • Copy and paste information from the site that is useful for you:
    • Now summarize the above text in your own words below:

Synthesis:

  • Combine your two summaries above to create a paragraph for your website. Once this is written all you will need to do is copy and paste it on your site.
  • Make sure to cite your sources when posting on your website!
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One thought on “Practicing New Literacies through Website Creation

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