This is a guest post by Katherine Miller.
I have been seeing so many educators on social media talking about Google Sites! From cute fonts to creative buttons to help students find information pertinent to their learning, my feeds have been full of ideas and inspiration. Despite its recent popularity, Google Sites is not a new product to the Google suite. This website creation tool has been available free since May of 2008. However, the resurgence of interest by educators across disciplines might be in part because of a revamp that began in 2017.
In 2017, Google announced that they would replace the original, classic Sites with new Sites. At this point in time, Google is just about ready to complete the transition fully over to the new Sites and announced that domains in the classic version will only remain until 2021.
The appeal of using Google Sites to design a webpage has always been:
- Creating websites without programming experience or knowledge of code.
- Being able to invite other editors to collaborate
- Having ready made theme templates available to make your website visually appealing
Now with the new update, you can add automatically optimizing your website for mobile or desktop so your content can be viewed anywhere as a major benefit of using Google Sites for webpage design.
As all music educators are being faced with the challenge of finding new ways to engage students, whether we see them in person or through a screen, Google Sites might be the tool you are looking to organize everything happening within your classroom. A website can be the hub, or center, for all of the information students and families need. Specifically, Sites can easily organize all your Docs, Forms, Slides and Sheets through links or embedding them directly into a page. You can also organize anything else you need to share. For instance:
- Linking class supply lists
- Classroom wish lists
- Curriculum resources
- Instruction videos
- Sign Ups
And, the list goes on and on!
So, where do you begin? Regardless of your purpose, you will need to begin by deciding what information you would like to include and have readily available to viewers of your site. These awesome music educators can give you the design ideas and inspiration you might be looking for to get started in making a Google Site of your own into an effective resource for your own classroom!
It is easy to see that the students at this middle school in California, U.S.A. have a choral experience that matches the mission statement: a place where students are inspired to grow in their musical enjoyment and literacy, ability to sing in choir, and personal development as performers, based on the Google Site created by Lindsay Parsons. The site works as the hub for all types of information meant to provide both students of the ensemble and parent/guardians with anything they may need. This is done through having a mix of static pages of information about the ensembles as well as having dynamic, embedded documents that can change frequently to reflect the most current information. This makes the Site the “go to” place to find information rather than fielding a ton of emails as questions arise throughout the year.
When you first open to the Site, Lindsay has designed the page to have the most current announcements and upcoming events are the first thing you see! The remainder of the site is organized by using tabs across the top of the page to help visitors easily find whatever information they might be looking for. This is possible by creating multiple pages within the Google Site.
You can see for yourself how it is organized by clicking here: Tuffree Choral Music
As with all Google products, editing a Site is pretty simple! Even beginners to webpage design will recognize many of the options available when developing a Google Site are the same as options in Docs, Slides, or Sheets. In fact, Katie Faivre, from New York, U.S.A., had students create a Google Site of their own. She had them create a site as a collaborative project. Groups were created of mixed instrumentation within her ensemble to introduce others to band instruments. The design was made possible by creating a template that she created with students so that they could easily organiz with a page for each instrument. The template also included a place to share facts, a picture, a video, and a quote in their own words about their connection or experience with the instrument.
This idea could be extended into your own ensemble by recreating this project with students or by allowing students to collaborate on the ensemble Site you make so that the updates are not always coming from you. This would also take some of the workload of keeping your website full of current information off of your plate!
See her template organization by visiting: Intro to Band Instruments – Flute
Google Sites can also be a great resource for daily student work whether you are teaching face to face, virtual or something in between. Remember all those amazing Bitmoji classrooms filling up social media last spring, too? Well, having a Site to post it for students to access, just like Amanda Lyon of Oregon, U.S.A., is a perfect solution. The virtual classroom she created is used as a homepage. She created additional pages that are linked in her Bitmoji classroom as well as being present in the menu at the top of the site for easy access.
It is easy to add a Slide or Doc that you have already created to any site by going to File>Publish to the Web. This menu will give you a link to embed the HTML code directly onto your Site. Just make sure that the share settings are set to allow anyone with the link to view it!
You can see this design at: Chávez Music
Google Sites can also be organized using visual buttons for even the smallest students to access work like in the Music Hall created by Kimberly Hall of Alberta, Canada. Her site is organized by grade level and provides students with easy icons linked to resources they need to access around the web as well as embedded resources she has created for student learning. By using pictures, rather than words, the site looks inviting to search around. It also helps students easily navigate through the site to find hidden gems including a page of enrichment games they could use to extend their learning beyond the assigned classwork.
See her engaging design for yourself by visiting: The Music “Hall”
David Gaskell of Victoria, Australia, has designed his Google Site as a resource encyclopedia of sorts. He has everything by topic like the headings you see above. Within each of these pages, he has embedded tutorials he has created for easy student viewing within the site rather than having students head to YouTube. We know what a rabbit hole that can be!
Google Sites has a direct link to embed your YouTube videos, or other videos you find on the website, under the Insert tab on the left hand side toolbar.
You can view how his design works by clicking: Mr G – Music Resources
Personal teacher profile/portfolio
Google Sites can also be an outstanding and simple program to use as a teacher musician to highlight yourself. Israel Saldana of Massachusetts, U.S.A., uses his site as a kind of business card. It could also be used as a portfolio for future employment or as an advertisement for any home studio options you may offer to students to extend their learning.
Israel organized his site by making all of the information contained within it viewable from the homepage. So, a viewer could see all the private lesson options, testimonials, and personal information by just scrolling down. However, they could also use the page links located at the top of the Site to go directly to the information they needed as a second option.
This Google Site, as well as David Gaskell’s Site listed above, are also examples of how you can purchase a website name (domain URL) to have a more personalized web address rather than the basic Google created website address. You can find out more about using a custom URL by visiting: Use a custom URL for your site.
You can also see more of Israel’s design at: Israel Saldana
No matter your purpose, you can see that there are so many options if you choose to use Google Sites as your website creation tool.
Do you have a Google Site? How did you organize it? We would love to see your examples!
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About the writer
Katherine (Katie) Miller holds a Bachelor of Music in Education degree from Otterbein University (Westerville, OH) and a Masters of Educational Leadership from Antioch McGregor Midwest (Yellow Springs, OH). She has 15 years of professional musical experience as a music educator and performer.
She is currently employed by the School District of Waukesha in Waukesha, WI, where she teaches K-5 General Music and serves as a district model tech classroom. She was recognized in 2018 as a WPT Education Innovator by Wisconsin Public Television Education team. Twitter: K8TMiller
Looking for More Resources for Music Teachers?
Hello! I’m Katie Wardrobe – an Australian music technology trainer and consultant with a passion for helping music teachers through my business Midnight Music.
I’m a qualified teacher but no, I don’t currently teach in a school. I help teachers through my online professional development space – the Midnight Music Community – where there are tutorial videos, courses, links and downloadable resources.
I like to focus on easy ways to incorporate technology into what you are already doing in your music curriculum through a range of creative projects. I also run live workshops and have presented at countless conferences and other music education events.
If you want simple, effective ideas for using technology in music education, I would LOVE to help you inside the Midnight Music Community.