Back in March, math teacher James Hochdorfer gave his 7th-grade algebra class at Classical Magnet School in Connecticut an unusual assignment.
He asked the 12- and 13-year-olds to make their own websites with Yola.com, to show they understood the math concepts they’d been learning all year.
“They started to panic,” explains James, who’s been teaching for seven years. “They wondered how they’d be able to do it all in just a month,” he says. “Then they quickly saw how easy it was to work with Yola to make a really awesome website.” The kids didn’t have any special technical skills to start with, worked on PCs, and finished their Yola sites in just four weeks of class time.
It looks like James’s kids had a ton of fun building their sites, from choosing templates to using tools like our HTML, text, and picture widgets. We especially love the animations on some of their pages.
“They really got a kick out of the voki and animate widgets. But overall, they were most impressed with the embedding feature,” says James.
James has a few recommendations to start your own class site-building project:
- First, give a lesson on design and making the site look good (space, balance, simplicity, consistency, no clip-art craziness)
- Introduce the Yola site builder and go through it with them
- Focus on learning one aspect of the site builder at a time, then practice it
- About halfway through the process, touch base and give critiques
- Have them do peer editing as they progress
We think this was a brilliant assignment for middle-school students. “The motto of our school is ‘We learn not for school, but for life,’” says James. “I believe the kids learned skills in communicating, writing, problem solving, and a little bit of programming, too.”
Take a look at their sites, enjoy, and get inspired. The possibilities are endless.
What do you teachers out there think? Is this an assignment you’d do in your own classroom?