Building sites;Project

22nd May 1998 at 01:00
The Internet is a window through which the world can see your school. Chris Flanagan guides you through the World Wide Web

Coming your way soon will be a connection to the Internet via the National Grid for Learning.

As well as giving staff and pupils access to a wealth of information and resources from across the globe, it is a tremendous opportunity for every school to become a source of information and inspiration.

The World Wide Web - WWW - can provide a window for others around the world to look into the life and work of your school and interact with it.

For example, your pupils could:

* Show children in Australia the pictures they painted yesterday.

* Let people from other countries read their stories and say what they think about them.

* Make new friends in other countries and learn about how they live.

* Tell the whole world that they have the best teachers.

* Publish the school football or netball team's latest victory.

This project provides ideas that will give your school a presence on the Web. There are activities for children to undertake that will contribute to the design of a schoolwebsite and practical tips to make your site a success. You don't even need a computer to try your ideas out - they can be drafted on paper

YOUR HOME PAGE

A website is similar to a book. It has a title page - the home page - that lets you link to other pages on the site. Let your pupils design a page that introduces their school to the world. This could include:

* A logo (either a drawing or computer-generated).

* A short message of welcome.

* A paragraph that gives the reader clues about what they will see on your website.

You could also publish a yearly, monthly or weekly list of events, such as the Summer Fayre, Book Week, Sports Day or the national tests! Choose an event for pupils to design a web page around on A4 paper. The page could include a description, drawings or photos - perhaps you have a good one of a teacher being hit with a custard pie at the Summer Fayre!

COME AND MEET US

School websites are more interesting if they say something about the teachers and pupils, and what happens in your school.

What information would surfers on the Net find interesting or amusing about your school?

KIDS CHAT

Either monthly or weekly you could set up a debate on the Internet that pupils could contribute to and which your pupils - and those visiting your website - could take part in.

STAFFROOM

Make a "fact file" about teachers in your school, just like magazines do for pop stars and footballers. Include a head-and-shoulders portrait - either a drawing or a photograph.

A PART OF THE COMMUNITY

Find out what events are happening in your community in the next week or month. Design a web page that tells visitors what a hive of activity your citytownvillage is. Try and make at least one event "one not to miss!"

QUICK TIME

KEEP IT FAST

* Limit the number of graphic images on any one page.

* Don't make pages too long - scrolling is hard on your mouse arm. Break a long page into two or three smaller ones and link them.

* Make navigation and links easy to follow - text links (highlighted and coloured) are simple and obvious.

UPDATE

UPDATE REGULARLY

* Allocate and share responsibilities for different parts of thesite around the school.

* Keep news "new" and don't be afraid to delete out-of-date pages.

* Your website WILL grow - plan for expansion from the start.

FREEBIES

GIVE SOMETHING AWAY FOR FREE

* Something to print and use.

* Postcards of your town by "snail mail" (via the Post Office).

* A free competition to enter.

AIMS

REMEMBER YOUR AUDIENCE

* Provide something of interest for children, teachers, parents and your community.

* Invite them to give comments and suggestions.

* When appropriate, write in a one-to-one style.

* Make visitors feel welcome at your site.

FUN

MAKE IT FUN

* Think carefully about colour schemes.

* Provide plenty of content for children - remember, they come in all ages.

* Don't let the site become an electronic brochure - most visitors haven't time to wade through pages of text.

* Provide humour and relaxation. Most surfers use the Internet as a leisure activity - it should be a pleasure to visit your site.

PROMOTION

PROMOTE YOUR SITE

* Register with Internet search engines such as Lycos, Yahoo and AltaVista. Just call into their websites and look for the "adding a website" link.

* Add your web and e-mail address to the school's letter-headed paper.

* Make links to other school sites and ask them to link back to you.

* Log on to educational newsgroups and mailing lists - let them know you exist.

TEACHER NOTES

It is not necessary to be connected to the Internet to use this project. It will work just as well as a series of paper-based activities with the resulting website displayed like a spider's web or flow diagram on a large display board. If you do already have an Internet connection, encourage the children to search for and visit other school sites to research other ideas. The author's is at http:www.sutton.lincs.sch.uk (Sutton-on-Sea school).

An example site can be viewed live on the Internet - at http:www. sutton.lincs.sch.uktes or via a link on The TES website at https:www.tes.co.uk . It contains further help and ideas.

Some activities, such as the school and community diaries, are particularly suitable for collaborative group work. Groups of four could be involved in the "design a home page" activity, with each member taking responsibility for an element of the page.

Many of the activities also support the literacy hour, including:

* Adapt writing for different audiences and purposes, reviewing and editing to meet to the needs of an identified readership.

* Develop a journalistic style of writing.

* Use information technology to plan, revise and edit writing, improving accuracy and conciseness and bringing to publication standard.

* Map out texts, showing development and structure.

RESOURCES

There are many packages about creating a web page. The following have been found particularly suitable for use with children:

* For Acorn users: HTMLEdit (pound;35 + VAT) and Multimedia TextEase (pound;175 + VAT) from SoftEase Ltd (01332 204911). Allows creation of link pages containing text, graphics, sounds and video in a desktop-publishing style. HTMLEdit converts pages to a format ready for the Web with one simple drag-and-drop operation. Ideal for Year 2 to Year 6.

* Windows 95NT: Microsoft Front Page (pound;53.63 + VAT).Plenty of templates to get started with. Usable by Years 5 and 6 and secondary children.

HELP ON THE INTERNET

Beginner's Guide to HTML - http: www.ncsa.uiuc.eduGeneral InternetWWWHTMLPrimer.html

Web Mastery - http:www. hypernews.orgHyperNewsgetwwwhtmlguides.html

Let There be Web Pages - http:www.becta.org.ukgen-sheetsenvision.html

Web Sites for Primary Education - http:www.becta.org.ukncet-infolinksprimary.html

Educational Internet Service Providers Project - http:www.becta.org.ukprojects.html

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