Teacher Showcase: Island Web Showcases with Claudia Fischer

Check out how students are beginning their exploration of the new Google Sites in French!

Anyone who knows anything knows that a world language program does not simply acquaint its students with an unfamiliar language. The teachers of Spanish, German, French, and Chinese in Sylvania Schools take their students on virtual (and sometimes actual) explorations of world cultures, histories, and geographies. They help students feel what it’s like to roam the countryside of Castilla-Leon or visit the waterfall at Saut d’Eau. That dimension makes world language education truly rich. But, the ever-apparent fact that we live in Northwest Ohio, with limited opportunities to visit these faraway countrysides provides world language teachers with a recurring challenge. How can they bring their students to those distant regions of the world without actually going there?

Of course, technology has been providing answers to this question for generations, and recent developments in Internet technology have brought a variety of opportunities to world language teachers. From Google initiatives like StreetView Treks and Cardboard to simple video conferencing tools like Hangouts and Skype to interactive websites, new or improved tools exist to make the world a little smaller and acquaint Sylvania students with their cousins in distant lands.

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Claudia Fischer, Northview French teacher, is using some of those simple tools to help her students explore the geography of French-speaking nations. Claudia has taken the newly-revamped Google Sites and guided her students through the creation of their own showcase websites for the island communities of Haiti, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, and Guadeloupe. On the websites, students posted images, videos, and descriptions of geographical and cultural characteristics of their chosen island nation, but the sites provided expanded opportunities as well. Students used pages in their sites to demonstrate their grasp of vocabulary and reflexive verbs. Students received a grading rubric and explored a model example site produced by Claudia. Through in and out of class work, they developed the sites and shared them for fellow students to peer review.

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Last year, Claudia’s students created paper brochures to explore their chosen island, but Claudia notes that “You can add so much more to show what you have learned than in a brochure.” The sites created by her students represent a small step in terms of web design, but they have jumped miles ahead of the paper brochure stage. Many of Claudia’s students had never built a website before, and even more had not yet experimented with the new Google Sites. Now, with this initial experience, students are ready to continue in multimedia web design, allowing them to explore their world in ways that paper never could offer.

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The development of Google Sites is simple. Check out this sample site to see the possibilities, and then read the SDL Resource Introduction for more help!

Student examples



St. Barthelemy

Resource Introduction: The New Google Sites

The new Google Sites makes web building in class easier than ever before. Check out how!


What is it?

The new Google Sites is still a straightforward website builder, but it is a revised approach to building websites that makes that task easier in a bunch of ways:

  • Simpler Development The developer interface is streamlined, making it easier to create and modify pages, add content, tweak visual design, and more. Many of the development tools are simple drag-and-drop.
  • Google Integration Building sites with Google content, like Slides presentations, Google Docs, YouTube videos, Blogger groups, Google Forms, and all the rest, is much easier.
  • Real-Time Collaboration Multiple users can work on the same website at the same time without the problems of locking each other out.
  • Responsive Design The appearance of the site responds better to the device, so the beautifully designed desktop version will not look like a mess on a tablet or smartphone.
  • Simpler Tools The complex tools from the old Google Sites, like gadgets, are gone. This might lead to less power for creating diverse interaction on the site, but it also makes development simpler.

How can I use it?

The simple and quick ability to develop websites is an incredibly useful addition to any classrooms. While many teachers use the super-powerful Google Classroom to manage their classes online, building a separate site with more traditional interactions may sometimes be useful. Better than that, the new Google Sites is available to students, which means they can use it to build sites for projects, portfolios, and more.

Here are some ideas:

  • Build a site that showcases a literary, musical, or artistic period, an historical period, an important scientist or mathematician. Load that site with videos, static images, and maybe even an interactive Google Street View Trek of a world location. (Make this even better by co-building it with a fellow teacher.)
  • Build a site around a long-term project that students are completing with all of the Google Drive files, external resources, and more that they might need to complete it. Then, post their completed projects on the site. This would move the project out of the chronologically-organized stream of Google Classroom. (Make this even better by developing a project with a fellow teacher in another content area for cross-curricular learning.)
  • Support students in building sites that showcase their work as portfolios. They can load the site with photographs, documents, spreadsheets, videos, external links, and anything else they need to show off their personal work.
  • Support students in collaborating on sites that present the work of projects, showcasing research, writing, discussion, and more.

Do you have other cool ideas? Email them to us to share with others!

Who’s using it?

Check out these teachers that know and use Google Sites in your school. Ask them for help!

At Northview, Lauren Stewart and Ryan Creech

Are you or someone you know using this? Notify us, and we’ll post your or their name here as a building expert! Email to aclarkson@sylvaniaschools.org.

Check out TeacherTech’s excellent introduction to the new Google Sites. Then, use the resources below that for extra help.

Resource Links

Sample New Google Site

Google Sites Login Page

Google Help Center

Sites on Learning Center

SDL Teacher Showcase: “Student Websites with Paul Moffitt”