Technology Evaluation – Google Sites


I love the new Google Sites, this week I am going to share how I use them in my classroom as Student Blogs.

I teach 4th grade, and I set up my Language Arts instruction as four rotating stations; Novel Study, Blog (writing/research), Tech (Spelling/Vocab/Typing), and Choice Reading (Accelerated Reader). In the beginning of the year my students were using notebooks for their daily journal entries. As I taught my class how to type and use more technology – they requested more and more to type their journal entries. I decided to do one better, and teach my class how to make their own Blogs.


How Google Sites Works

Making your own Google Site is easy, if you haven’t tried it already I highly recommend it. I have one where I keep links and my homeworks/handouts.

The first step is going to your Google Drive. Click the big blue New button, then select More -> Google Sites.

You will be taken to your new blank site. Here you can easily personalize your page with the help of a quick tutorial. Google sites is so self explanatory that is is easily used with elementary students. They can add anything from their Drives quickly into their sites.

My school district has google accounts for all our students, which keeps students sites hidden as you need a k12northstar email, or be specifically invited to view them. Make sure you have parent permission if you chose to do your own class blogs!


How I use Google Sites

We do a blog post every day which is basically an online journal. Each day my students have to write a minimum of 6 sentences about the current topic. I also like to include a bonus challenge that requires students to research or includes a tech integration skill. For example one topic was:

  • Where would you take the class on a field trip? What will we learn there?
  • How much does your activity cost?
  • Bonus: Include a map that measures the distance of your field tip to our school.

12 thoughts on “Technology Evaluation – Google Sites”

  1. This is a great idea! It seems a little like Google classroom, but based on your description, there might be more ways to use this than Classroom. Do the students make their blogs within your Google site? Because this kind of makes me want to investigate Sites to see if it’s more suited to my own class than Google Classroom is.

    Side note unrelated to the technology— I’d like to hear more about how you organize your stations! I always want to try stations but they never quite work the way I want them to, and your four rotating stations seem like something that would function very well in my 6th and 7th grade classes!

    1. They each have their own Google Site that they use as their Blog.

      I set my stations up as the 4 tasks they need to complete during language arts. Each rotation lasts 25 mins which I think is just the right amount of time for my students attention spans. You might want to experiment with lengths, or even let your students free rotate since they are older. I made their groups based off their reading levels from the STAR Reading Test.

      The first station is Novel Study – which is a Novel at the groups reading level that I chose. Each day the students meet and read their assigned pages, and then complete their daily reading skills sheet.

      The next station is Tech, which is spelling and vocabulary. Students have weekly assignments on SpellingCity – and if they finish early they work on Typing Agent.

      Choice Reading is where students read their own book as they work on hitting their AR goal. I also chose one picture book a week, usually one that relates to our science/social studies topics, that students have to read and take an AR quiz that goes into their grade.

      Blog/Journal is the last station, for students to write, do research, and publish their work.

      I also give my students exit slips that they take with them to all four stations. They record what they did at the station and have to hand them to me before going to out to recess. We also do a DOL sentence on the backs of the exit slips first thing in the morning.

  2. This is great! It is awesome that you are expanding their abilities as they learn to use the technology in class. It amazes me how many students today still struggle just to open up their email. Not that it is something they HAVE to know, but it is a great skill to have.

    This is also a great organization tool for those students who struggle with losing papers all the time. Great idea!

  3. I appreciate that you described the privacy/security settings. That’s always one of my concerns with using Google integrated things.. sometimes it seems a little tricky to know what Google is sharing publicly and what it’s not. That’s great that the school district has already managed that for you in terms of ensuring each student has a Google account. I know some college instructors at my institution have chosen to use Google sites instead of the LMS and I could see why – it looks like it offers a lot of flexibility.

  4. Hey! I learned something new. I didn’t know about Google sites. That is a great tool for blogging. Did you learn the hard way about making sure you ask parents permission? It just sounded like there was a story behind that. What’s great is that the students have a site that they can look back on when they get older. Like a portfolio of work that will stay on their Google Drive.

  5. Rachel – Thank you for the explanation and the graphics – you made it seem really easy to set up. I also liked the explanation about getting parents permission and setting privacy settings. I am toying around with ideas for my class project that I can use with high school students. There is another Google product I want to use – so this might synthesize really well with that (anonymous) product 🙂 How do you handle the number of questions the kids have setting it all up? Did you model it on the smart board? Do you have an aide helping you? That is one of the most difficult parts for me with anything new we do on computers – is handling all of the individual issues the kids run into on their pages. I am definitely going to spend more time looking at this! I also really love how easy it is to leave comments on your blog!

    1. I modeled the set-up with a Smartboard, and had preemptively taught the steps to a handful of students so they could help me teach it to the class. I give a few steps of instruction at a time and am mindful about where we pause. You don’t want students to be waiting on a step that can easily be messed up. Try to align the pauses for things like naming your blog, choosing colors, etc.

      I hope that’s helpful, goodluck with your class 🙂

  6. I also teach fourth grade. I use Google Sites for my class website, but I never thought of using it as a blog page for my students! That is very creative! I also like how you set up your stations. I have a dedicated hour for small group time and many times, they do writing. I really like that my students could personalize their Google Site to make it their own. It is also something that they could take with them and refer back to or continue to write in after they move on from fourth grade. What a great idea!

  7. My school uses Canvas, and there have been several times where I have thought about going rogue and using Google Classroom, which would make all the Google stuff fully available. Whenever I see someone using Google Stuff, I always think about it, but never pull the trigger. Sometimes I think the district thinks about “effective use of technology” and tries too hard.

    1. I have been more and more tempted to switch to Google Classroom. My school still isn’t 1-1 with technology and with Chromebooks being the cheapest option I might fully convert to Google.

      I get overwhelmed with how many options there are for technology integration. Just pick one and run with it.

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