Building a Teacher Site

More and more of us have websites of our own posted for our students to use. Most teachers now have access to a number of district-provided tools and Learning Management Systems, but it still behooves ourselves and our students sometimes to have something public-facing, open to all, with resources available at all times. I decided to build this site so that I could have more control over it as the years pass, and to have the ability to fine-tune my presentation and tools.

I have a background in IT and web programming, but you really don't need to if you're going to get started. Here I have a list of tools that I use, as well as some starting places if you're considering doing this yourself. I'm just listing tools I've used myself, not necessarily everything. If you have something that you believe should definitely be included, email me.

Teachers: I'm happy to help out with this if I can. Reach out to me if you're looking into doing this and need a hand. I also have web server space available.

Free Tools

  • Wordpress - you can create a blog free here, but don't let that fool you. Wordpress is extremely flexible and I've seen quite a number of teacher websites that aren't just daily posts. You can have any number of pages with any type of content posted on them as well. You can pay for your own domain name or just use a free one, depending on what makes the most sense for you.
  • Google Classroom/Drive - Many district tools have integrations available that work with Google Docs. I believe InfiniteCampus and Canvas are two that have this. I use docs because I can embed them anywhere, and as I update them, all students have access. Classroom is less useful in creating an open public site like this one, but can be a part of making it useful and integrated with your class.
  • Google Sites - You can use this, and I have before, but it really isn't all that flexible, nor does it give you much in the way of options to make your site look nice and unique. I feel like there are better options than this.
  • - You need to make your site inviting and graphically sound; use something like this (both paid and free options) to put together graphics for your course pages.

Getting More Advanced

What I use.

Want to really dive in and have total control? You can build your own website from the ground up as I have here. It offers the best amount of flexibility and allows you to make changes to what you're doing as you go. Decide halfway through building that you don't just want a list of assignments, but also something that students can participate in? You'll need something more robust.

  • Drupal - Back when I did web developing as an employee and as a small business owner, I used Drupal as the basis for all of my projects, and this website is built on it too. It has a massive community, thousands of modules that allow you to do basically whatever you want, and is something I'm very familiar with. That said, the learning curve is quite a bit more intense than Wordpress, especially if you're starting from very little.
  • Get your own webserver - You're going to want to do this if you're going to make a lot of customizations. Beware of getting one of those $5/month servers, though; those typically have hundreds of other sites hosted on them, and if you send a classroom of kids to your site at the same time, you can expect it to be unusably slow. You'll want to either pay more for more bandwidth or get on another teacher's server (hint, hint).
    • - this is the host that I use. Best support out of all the companies I've used by far.
    • - I've used these guys in the past and they're just fine.
    • Me - I have a webserver and I really don't fully use it to its potential. If you have the know how and the interest, I'm happy to set up an account for you and negotiate a fee, up until we get too many tenants and our classrooms start getting slow.

Library Management

I'm not entirely sure where to put this, but if you're interested in it, do let me know. I have built a small, mini-library component to this website to keep track of the books that I check out to students and colleagues. It's very simple, and it should be very extensible. It's also still under construction. If you have a collection of books that you'd like to keep track of but don't want to go through the hassle of an excel sheet or a barbaric sheet of paper, I could set you up with it and you could input your own collection. I contains limited bibliographic fields, a patron list, and the ability to see who still has what book out past its due date. This isn't public yet, but if you're interested in giving it a go, send me an email.

Library module screenshot