LIBE 477

Vision of the Future Part 1: Design Considerations

What is my classroom situation?

As a K-4 DL teacher, my students’ education happens largely through their parents. I provide families with curriculum resources and learning opportunities, then the parents learn with their children at home. I meet weekly with about half of my students through field trips and guided reading/math groups, and the rest of my students meet with me every 4-6 weeks to check in, show me what they’ve done, ask questions, and get feedback.

What problem am I trying to solve?

Since a large part of my students’ education is happening at home, I need to increase the support I am able to provide those students in their homes.

I am currently sending home emailed newsletters with ideas that relate to most families or for topics I’ve answered a lot of questions about. However, sometimes parents just don’t know what to ask. Also, when new families join my class, as is a regular occurrence throughout the year, they miss previous emails and support other families have already received.

Therefore, I need to find a way to extend my reach into their homes, provide enduring and consistent information to all families, and answer questions they may not even know they have.

What is the project idea?

I am planning to significantly add to and improve my classroom website to include information about research-based practices. This will allow families to educate themselves about literacy, numeracy, SEL, and any other important topic at the time that best suits their needs. In essence, I’m trying to provide a place I can send families for ‘just in time’ learning as well as written information they can refer back to after in-person conversations.

(Image: Johnson)

I’m starting with a very basic website ( where I currently only have the following information:

  • Announcements
  • Field trip calendar
  • Scholastic orders
  • General information about the K-4 curriculum (as mandated by the BC Ministry of Education for DL schools)

Why create my own website?

“What happened was that our class site became the backbone of our room.” (Davies)

It’s not common for elementary school classrooms and libraries to have this type of website. Classroom websites are generally used to communicate topics specific to that particular classroom, like homework, units of study, field trips, etc… (Connell) rather than general information about literacy and pedagogy. In my district, elementary libraries use the Destiny homepage to curate a collection of links, but don’t specifically have websites dedicated to literacy information. There are, however, plenty of homeschool websites similar to what I am proposing.

So why have I chosen this for my project? In short, my website fills a specific need for my specific students and their families. In more detail:

  1. It creates a way for me to communicate directly with my students and their families and personalizes the information to their learning. Who knows? It might even help connect extended families to my students’ learning experience (Connell).
  2. The language and practices that will arise from this will be common across families at home, during outings, at the school, and during meetings. This provides a consistency that will benefit the children, their parents, and myself.
  3. Instead of just talking with parents about these ideas, I can also direct them to articles, videos, images, etc… to support them in a multi-modal and more meaningful way (Davies).
  4. The school district does have a literacy page on their website (, but it doesn’t have enough information to guide parents who are teaching their children. On the other end of the spectrum, there is website dedicated to teaching literacy in our district here: However, this website is largely written for teachers or those already familiar with common terminology or practices. My website will fill a middle ground, informative but with language geared towards parents.
  5. There are websites dedicated specifically to homeschool parents, but many of these are American and have a religious foundation that my families don’t share. My website will be independent of religion and specific to our curriculum.

Why not write a blog instead?


Information on a blog is sorted by tags and dates, but a website’s pages are categorized and accessible through the website menu. My goal is for families to use the particular pages they need when they need it, rather than based on when I post it, so a website seems like a better fit.

For example, consider a new family joining my class in March. Instead of telling them to go back and read the blog from September to find all the relevant information, I would be able to direct them to the page with our class behaviour expectations and one other page, depending on the goal set for their child at that time. Even families that have been with us all year might not need information about a topic for months after I post it. Other teachers report that their website also helps latecomers catch up (Davies).

Unlike a blog, I can keep the webpages continually up-to-date as I learn more about the topic or come across new ideas and links, or use the same information year after year, without having to re-post them.

Which platform will I use?

I already have a Google Site started and will stick to that platform for three reasons:

  1. My families are already using the site as part of their school routine.
  2. My Moodle and Destiny pages just don’t provide the right kind of structure for a website.
  3. Not all of my students have Google accounts so I cannot use a shared folder or Google Classroom.

What will it look like?

To guide my vision, I plan to start with Allington’s ‘Every Child, Every Day’ and Gail Boushey and Joan Moser’s Daily 5 ideas (as seen below). This will ensure I’m covering the most important aspects of literacy first and give parents a focus as well.

I’m not completely sure of the overall organization yet, but I plan to include information, videos, images, and links. Any resources that need to be downloaded will be posted to our classroom Moodle page and linked to from the website. This allows me to post both free and paid resources, because it is only accessible to my students with a password (and not posted freely on the internet).

Some topic ideas I’ve compiled are:

  • Class behaviour expectations
  • Creating a daily or weekly schedule
  • Decoding strategies
  • Reading comprehension strategies
  • Printing and/or Handwriting Without Tears
  • Writing
  • Stamina
  • Whole body listening
  • Core competencies
  • Self-regulation
  • Words Their Way
  • Numeracy
  • Access to digital resources, like Destiny and subscribed databases.

Furthermore, I can use this website to help families stay on track throughout the year, providing deadlines, schedules, and project ideas (Johnson).

What ideas do I have for the future?

This is just the beginning. In the future, I’d like to see even more on thie website:

  • A form for parents to fill out when signing up for field trips (Johnson) to reduce the amount of emails I need to respond to and automate the process. I could also have parents download permission forms directly from the website and fill them out before arriving (Johnson).
  • Include a library section of the website so students have a safe place to research and explore (Connell).
  • Create a class YouTube account so I can share videos of myself and/or the students practicing these techniques (Johnson).

Where will the information come from?

I will use support from my district’s literacy training sessions and district literacy coordinators as well as the experts they bring in each week. I will also research and link to other blogs, websites, and articles. Finally, I will have support from other primary teachers as well as other teachers in my school.

What else do I need to consider?

There are a few final considerations to ponder:

  • What will the pages look like? They need to be informative, but not cluttered (Gambrell).
  • What is the best way to organize and access this information? Do I want everything in the menu or do I want broader headings like ‘Literacy’ plus subheadings? The content needs to be easy to navigate and search because “too many navigation options may prevent your users from accessing what they need” (Gambrell).
  • How much detail to I want to include? I need to balance having enough information to inform and educate, but not so much as to overwhelm parents. This also needs to be written in a parent friendly way, eliminating or defining words they may not know (Gambrell).
  • When will I post, update, and improve the information?
  • Will I will be building these pages first on my personal website so it isn’t visible to parents until it is ready, or do I want to I will build it directly on the classroom website? Will I release all pages at once or one at a time?

Your Turn

Is there anything you would like to see on a website like this? Is there anything you feel, as a parent, would help you better support your child’s education? Do you have any ideas about how best to organize these pages? Are there any considerations I’ve forgotten? Let me know in the comments below!


Connell, Gina. “Create an Impressive Class Website in Under an Hour.”, 2013,

Davis, Rebecca. “5 Reasons Why You Should Build a Class Site NOW.” Fractus Learning, 2016,

Gambrell, Khalilah. “7 Best Practices for Creating a User Friendly Library Website.” EBSCOpost, 2015,

iHeartLiteracy. “Friday Freebie: Daily 5 & CAFE Posters.” iHeartLiteracy, 2012,

Johnson, Doug. “Build an awesome class website with Google Apps.” International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), 2014,

SD #35. “Every Child, Every Day.” SD35 Instructional Services,

SD #73. “Literacy Matters.” School District #73,

SD #73. “Reading.” School District #73 Literacy Resources,

Unknown. “Blog vs Website.” Soft Cybernet, 2015,


6 thoughts on “Vision of the Future Part 1: Design Considerations”

  1. Whoa, Kristi, This is such a great description of the how, why and who for your website. I really appreciate the insights you shared about the website design – they are helpful since I’m also building a website! I agree that this would be such a great tool for your students and their families. Would it be closed just to your families or would it be open to the general public? I have a feeling that the information you’re sharing (about curriculum and literacy) would be very useful for many people.


    1. Thanks Kelli! I do plan to make most of it open to the public, except that the resource downloads will be on Moodle for copyright reasons. I have some experience with website design, but it’s so different when creating a classroom website – it’s more about the content (which I’ve never had to be concerned with before). This content is so new to me too, so I think this research will also help with my literacy knowledge and skills.


  2. Hi Kristi,
    Great ideas, it looks like this is a practical and ideal plan for both you and your students.
    Your topics are very comprehensive and include many important aspects of learning. I’d be impressed as a parent!
    Your references look really good as well. I’m now in the beginning stage of building my website and am searching new resources out. I’ll be sure to check these out.
    Do you find Google Sites meets all of your needs? I was looking at using it as well. I decided on Weebly, but I’m contemplating switching..


    1. Thanks Amy! I’m hoping it will be helpful for my students’ parents, but that I’ll learn a lot too.

      I found Google Sites to be a bit challenging at first because you have to work within their new, more limited design options. It was also quite a bit different from the old Google sites so was a learning curve too. However, I love that it’s so easily connected to my Google Drive, where I store everything anyway. Inserting the Google Calendar I use for my class events was so simple.

      One example of the design limitations is that I can’t make one line of text a different colour to stand out, though I can bold it or underline it. I can also make sections of text stand out, but only in set colours based on my theme. However, I find overall that this makes my website so much more professional looking. It also removes a lot of the design elements so I can just focus on the content.

      I’ve never used Wix or Weebly before, though many teachers do (and many tutorials aimed at teachers have chosen one or the other). For this website, I’m using the new WordPress editor and I like Google Sites better.


  3. Wow, this was a great, detailed, informative and practical plan for your final vision of the future project. You’ve done an excellent job describing the rationale for your site, who it will be for, the goals you have and have collected some solid evidence to support your ideas. One suggestion I can add to as a very effective way to communicate, is to start adding more video, either of yourself talking/introducing topics and ideas, as well as screen-casts of what to do, or how to use a tool. It is a great way to reach your students!


    1. Hi Aaron,
      I have noticed that the videos you send each week are helpful. I’ve created some videos in the past for my class, specifically for use on Flipgrid, but it’s not a common occurrence for me yet. Perhaps I’ll try a few more this year and see how it goes!


Comments are closed.