As more schools go 1:1 with devices, classrooms increasingly feature a blended learning model. This requires a lot of student screen time because as Matt Miller argues, technology is a vital part of students' educational experience.
Students need visually appealing platforms to engage them as they work on devices. Google Classroom has a visually appealing simple interface. It is perfect for facilitating student creation and collaboration with teacher feedback. However, teachers, especially secondary teachers, need to present students with content. Additionally, beyond parent e-mails, Google Classroom is not public. The new Google Sites is an ideal platform to present content in a visually appealing, creative way. Teachers can easily showcase their hard work and ingenuity to the public. New Google Sites is simple for teachers to use and approachable for students.
Previously, Google Sites was not intuitive. It rendered ugly sites that did not display well on phones and tablets. The new Google Sites is no more complicated than pointing and clicking - no HTML knowledge needed (see tips below). It integrates perfectly with GSuite. This makes it easy to showcase GSuite files.
Examples of Using New Google Sites in Blended Learning
A small one or two class lesson. Here is an example of a lesson on the Haitian Revolutions.
A bigger site to house a few days of instruction on a topic. Here is an example that uses revolutions in Latin America.
A site could also be a unit overview and/or house resources a team of teachers could use to teach the same unit. This site could be linked in the "About" tab of Google Classroom. Here is an example that showcases resources for a French Revolution unit.
Google Sites is great for making blended learning PD modules teachers can access anytime. Here is a site I made to support a session about creativity I presented to my colleagues.
The new Google Sites is perfect for digital portfolios for both teachers and students. This is especially useful to graduating students because they can now transfer school GSuite files to another account. For an example of what a digital portfolio in new Google Sites looks like, have a look at the site I created to house my digital breakouts.
I am currently working on a site that will support a student with emotional needs. It will showcase videos with supportive messages. The site will only be viewable to people in my district's domain. The videos will be stored in Google Drive, not YouTube. Videos stored in Google Drive play seamlessly in the new Google Sites. That way, the student in need has a resource but none of its content is open to the public.
New Google Sites Pro Tips
Be sure to set GSuite files displayed on a Google Site to "On - Public on the web."
The header image is a great way to make the site visually appealing. Get an image specific to your site's content from the Wikimedia Commons. Manipulate the image in Canva or Google Drawings. Set the dimensions to 280 pixels high and 767 pixels wide. New Google Sites will darken the image to help readability but that can be turned off.
When inserting images, place the image in Google Drive, then insert it. It works better than uploading from a hard drive.
By default, all pages appear in the navigation at the top of the site unless they are hidden. Hidden pages can always be linked in text or in GSuite files:
Additionally, pages can be nested under other pages (creating sub-menus in the navigation) by dragging a page on top of the page you want it nested under:
The site is not live until the "Publish" button is clicked.
New Google Sites can be edited by multiple people like any GSuite file. Site changes are saved automatically like other GSuite files but do not go live on the site until the "Publish" button is clicked.
We want our students to display their creativity. We need to display some ourselves. The new Google Sites is a great way to do so with ease.
Please comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney if you have questions as you use the new Google Sites. Thank you for reading.
Thank you, Canva, the tool I used to make the image for this post.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I HAVE NOT RECEIVED COMPENSATION OF ANY KIND FOR MENTIONING THE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES IN THIS POST. I WAS NOT SOLICITED TO WRITE THIS POST AND I HAVE NO RELATIONSHIP WITH ANY OF THE COMPANIES MENTIONED.