While teacher websites appear to be more popular, I have many colleagues who lament the fact that, halfway through a semester, many of their students have never found one. In order to ensure that my students at least know mine is there and how to find it, I have several ‘homework’ assignments that rely on them personally going to the site.
Student Information Form – Can I get this information from our school’s student information system? Yes. But…to reduce time spent on administrivia, and have useful data for me accessible from anywhere, I now have students complete their student information from a Google Docs form embedded in my site. It is required first night homework, can be accessed from school computers and must be done in order to gain entry into class the next day.
Photo/Email Assignment – I generally put up a page of interesting photos related to my subject. You can find many that are in the public domain. Recently I chose photos from my last trip to Japan. Students are required to email me (we await Google Voice and the ability to call/text here in Canada) with their favorite photo and why. I learn a bit about them – but most importantly – I now have an email address for them.
Web-Posted Homework – Once in the first 5 or 6 days of class I announce that the homework will be posted on the website ONLY. I ensure that it is already up there by the end of class so students can easily access it from school computers.
Practice Tests/Quizzes – I frequently will post a practice test prior to assessing student’s knowledge. In my area of languages this can be an audio clip, a reading multiple choice test or a straight ‘paper’ quiz. Students know that I do this. To reward those that find it I sometimes use the practice quiz as the real one. I may only do it once a semester, but students learn that practice can make (almost) perfect.
“You have a site?” is one question that I don’t hear from my students. Requiring them to use it in Week 1 means that they know it is there! If you’re curious, you can find mine at Lee Sensei’s Site.