Three Ways I’ve Used Google Sites for Assessment

google classroom cover image
google classroom cover image

I have spent a lot of time over the last ten years refining the way that I use the Google suite in my classroom. One of my favorite tools is using Google Sites as a creative and comprehensive way for students to present their work. Since our school started using Google Classroom three years ago, I have expanded the way that I use it, primarily in these three ways.

1. As a portfolio for work created during the school year: 

Google Sites has changed a lot since I started using it for student portfolios, but gone are the years of collecting huge binders full of student work and spending hours at school grading those binders because it was too much work to carry the crates full of portfolios home. With the new Google Sites, they can neatly insert each paper that I want them to include and organize them in a way that shows their progress over the year. Instead of paging through binders, I’m quickly clicking my way through the pages with more time to spend on their actual personal evaluations.

2. As a multi-genre response to a literary work, but non-English teachers could do something similar: 

I’ve had my students do all sorts of multilayered website responses to an assigned book, discovering that using a website instead of a slide presentation has some definite advantages, especially for more complex assignments. The website they can create using Google Sites is more user-friendly than students turning in multiple separate assignments (nice for us teachers) and gives them more freedom to be creative in layout and design, which they also enjoy.

3. As a way to present a research paper or topic using a form that more likely mirrors the kind of research reporting they will be doing once they are no longer going to school: 

After spending the last couple years using Google Sites for the first two purposes, this year I decided to try using it for the very last project I had my AP Literature students do this past school year: a social change project. The website allowed them to easily and neatly organize their research and reporting into three parts: the problem, why it is a problem, and proposed solution. They could insert pictures, graphs, and infographics to help support their claims, the very kind of work that many of them could be doing in their professional lives in four to five years. When I asked them if they preferred the traditional paper to the way I was having them do it, they overwhelmingly replied that they preferred the website. They were doing the same amount of research and writing, but the visual organization made sense to them. While I don’t think I would ever get rid of the traditional research paper, I now have a new way for students to present their research once they have mastered the art of tradition research writing.

Using electronic tools for student presentations doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’s important to note that opening up student options simultaneously teaches them writing skills, reading skills, and the computing skills they will need as they start looking for professional jobs. If we want them to develop this multifaceted proficiency, this is a good place to start. Teachers just need a lot of patience (with themselves and with students) and the appropriate amount of time as everyone learns the ropes together.

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Sarah is a high school English teacher and yearbook adviser in the Houston area. When she's not lesson planning, grading, or revising yearbook pages, she enjoys biking, running, reading, writing, and camping with her family. She spends her "free" time writing about camping, faith, family, and occasionally politics on her personal blog Accepting the Unexpected Journey.

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