Deciding on an Idea: What's the Web Site Going to Be About?
Once your students are "hooked," we believe it will not be difficult to elicit ideas for a project. Nonetheless, many teachers prepare a few suggestions ahead of time. Others suggest starting off by coming up with the basic idea for the site yourself, and then moving toward a more student-directed project by helping the students fill in the details.
I introduced the idea of a virtual school visit project. In a virtual school visit, two classes come together to be electronic pen pals. The participating students exchange e-mails and eventually each class creates a Web site that is framed as a tour of their school for their partner class. The structure of this project was ideal for my students. First of all, to communicate across a distance using writing was new for them. They did not generally write letters. While some students were already using e-mail to communicate with people outside of our class, this gave every student the opportunity to develop a relationship with someone simply using words. Secondly, the prospect of creating a Web site, while daunting at first, intrigued many of the students. We had been using the Internet to do research during the year and we had looked at some student-created sites. Students had expressed an interest in creating their own site, in getting their writing and voices out there.
former adult literacy teacher at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, New York
Some of the sites we have seen include:
- A collection of educational sites rated and ranked by students;
- Interviews with local health, and other community resources, designed to introduce these resources to other members of the community;
- Collections of personal biographies and photos;
- A Web site devoted to the history and/or culture of the local community, from the students' point of view;
- A Web site focusing on economic development opportunities in the local community;
- Text and photo diaries of local attractions or community locations;
- A collection of interviews with local people about their jobs;
- A Web site in which two or more classes from different communities compare political, social, economic, and environmental experiences.
It may be helpful to actually show some examples of Web sites on topics of interest to your learners, especially those produced by other ABE classes. Teachers may wish to design a Web site evaluation activity around such a review, such as the one at the end of this chapter.
"As a group we discussed what would be involved in building a site, what we might want to have on our site, and any reservations we had about making the site," recalls one teacher. "After a week we put the idea to a vote and the class decided to participate in the project."
Ideas may also grow out of other class activities. As another teacher told us, "I think [our] topic came up because throughout the year students are always given the opportunity to give a presentation to the class, and usually the topic they choose is their culture or country, so a theme was already present."
Last Updated October 23, 2003