How I Use It
I used Google Sites with my Grade 5 students to facilitate Digital Portfolios and blogs for informal writing. Each Monday I would ask students to share one of their blog posts from the previous week and read it aloud in a small group setting. The other students would critique elements of the post from grammar to spelling, and I got to assess verbal language skills at the same time. Once I allowed students to add videos and pictures to their blog posts, the quality and quantity of their writing really took off. Everyone enjoyed the lesson on customizing their website colors and theme, but of course, this quickly resulted in a contest to see who could make the most hideous color combinations possible. Another tip is to encourage other students to write feedback, or to provide feedback as the teacher on their website. There is little more that excites a student than seeing proof that someone has read what they've written online.
Google Sites is one of the easiest ways to start a website on the Internet. For the many schools with Google Apps for Education, the tool seamlessly integrates content from across the other Google Apps such as Calendar and Drive. Bending a Google Site to look exactly how you want can be a challenge though, and there are few resources available to teach the many tricks required to really master the tool. Students will need some instruction on basics like adding images and saving pages, but once those basics are mastered the sky is the limit on what they can create and share.