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Analysis of the Instructional Component of Todays Classroom Website

Malkie Horovitz

In my website I include a home page which describes my philosophy, background and


experience, and photo collage depicting my character. I have made it simple for anyone to email
me with questions or suggestions by placing a form on the website. My site is designed to meet
and advance the needs of third grade students, their families and the community. There is a
home-school connection formed, as well as a platform to expand my personal learning network

(PLN).

Integral Components Included in my Website


The newly developed instructional web-based unit is about the Monarch Butterfly. The
unit is age and developmentally appropriate, and connects with a current problem our community

is working toward creating awareness and joining a greater initiative. An authentic problem such
as this will engage students more deeply than a topic which they have no connection with. The
pages will capture student attention as they think about home remedies versus over the counter
medication for seasonal allergies. There are enrichment pages for students to use as resources to
further their research and strengthen skills in core subject areas. I also developed a site teaching
students about Gamification, as I believe it is an excellent tool for students.

The Advancement of Learning through the New Unit and Collaborative Learning
The newly developed unit is an authentic problem with collaboration extending to members of
our own community and beyond. It is my intention that students will engage in the various
activities available on my site and continue to find their own resources which will answer their
questions.The more they read, I hope the more questions they will have and want to find
information on their own. This is supported by resources on the enrichment page with buttons
and links to sites like World Book Online. There are resources to connect with organizations to
bring speakers in to teach the students more and engage in hands-on planting projects. In order
to allow visual exploration of authentic tasks and environments (Alesandrini), I used an image

which students could reflect upon and answer question in relationship to the Parts of Speech
which they have learned.

Use of Navigation and Site Layout


The pages are linked to my class website and return easily via the Home tab. I was
careful to structure my site in a way that will be easily modified. Attention to behind-the-scenes
structural components from the start produces a website that will hold up over time, work
effectively within the larger web environment, and adapt and grow as needed (Lynch, 2009).
The Powtoon embedded in the site was created recently for another class. Additional resources
on the page introduce content we will cover over the school year and students and families are
invited to view and engage in these activities at their leisure. Additional resources have been
posted on the Educator page in the hope of sharing resources and broadening my PLN. I kept in
mind Lynchs assertion that users should always be able to return easily to your home page and
to other major navigation points in the site (Lynch 2011) when creating my site. Therefore it is
my hope that my clear navigation, breadcrumbs, buttons, hypertext, and links will be sufficient to
compensate. Lynch also recommends a sidebar but I was unable to incorporate this into the
template I chose. I used hypertext many times throughout the site, enabling students to probe
their way through readings, exercises, and written assignments in order to promote interest and
motivation as well as providing a basic background of the area to be "probed" (2010). Landow
defines hypertext as, ... text composed of blocks of words (or images) linked electronically by multiple

paths, chains, or trails in an open-ended, perpetually unfinished textuality described by the terms link,
node, network, web, and path (Landow, 1992).

It has been shown that, designs that anticipate a diverse user population often have
unanticipated benefits (Lynch). I added the ability to translate the site to the users language of
choice, thereby not limiting the audience. The messages of the Monarch unit are applicable far
beyond this website. Two stylistic elements I was not able to accomplish were the incorporation
of a search bar and the use of a left navigation bar. Both of these were limited in Weebly.
Application of Theories
Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the users
experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level (Lynch). Wayfind has
four components; one of those components is Route Decisions, finding the way to where one
wants to go. Breadcrumbs trails are used to lead users to areas within the website. Therefore, I
used words which reflect the topic of each tab, no euphemisms.

Visual Constructivism - a [course should] feature a high degree of learner interactivity as


well as a high level of visual constructivism characterized by instructors or intelligent online
agents that visually clarify complex topics, understand learner-generated creations, allow visual
exploration of authentic tasks and environments, and assess learning through authentic
assessments (Alesandrini).

Focus on the Students Learning


Understanding that, The learner-centered approach provides more control of learning by
the students, and the role of the teacher becomes one of a facilitator rather than the primary
source of content (Shepherd). I provide a variety of tasks for students to forge ahead and choose
their direction, how much they wanted to learn on a given topic and how far they wanted to
extend their research, learning for the sake of learning, not expectation. I envision collaboration
and engagement with the class and community members in planning and planting a butterfly
garden. Through the exposure given to this technology on my website, the students will
collaboratively work together to join the initiative using Web 2.0 tools listed on my blog, Its
Elementary.

Reflection
Reflection on my website led to the image I chose for the page header. This visual
metaphor is symbolic of the growth and development process I underwent as my website took
shape, and how through sensory, tactile, and intellectual experiences in my classroom students
will flourish and grow.

Figure 1 Image courtesy of Malkie Horovitz

Elements to meet the needs of all audiences are present in the website. Goals for my
website include promoting student learning, community ties, engagement with current problem
including investigating possible strategies for solutions, and the ability of students to participate
in classroom studies both inside and outside of the classroom.
Information I Learned
During the development of this website I placed emphasis on consistency in layout, font,
navigation, and scaffolding instruction for students to build upon an existing foundation of
knowledge and extend further by anticipating their needs and providing resources to help them
meet their needs. The Probe Method: A Constructivist Instructional Strategy, describes the the
Probe Method as, A unit of study might begin with a set of "regular" classroom assignments,
such as readings, exercises, and written assignments in order to promote interest and motivation
as well as providing a basic background of the area to be "probed" (Shepherd). This method
guided my instruction as I added supporting pages to my website which I had not originally
intended.
Conclusion
In conclusion, this site has been designed to meet the Common Core and ISTE Standards
relevant to our lessons while aligning with Lynch and Horton. It uses effective methods and
scaffolding to present information in a clean and inviting manner. There are elements to meet the
needs of all audiences, including those with certain visual impairments. Goals for my website
include promoting student learning, community ties, and engagement through Problem Based
Learning.

References
Alesandrini, K. (2002). Visual Constructivism in Distance Learning. USDLA Journal, 16(1).
Retrieved from https://learn.umuc.edu/d2l/le/68103/discussions/topics/730421/View
Landow, G. (1992). The history of hypertext and its history as a concept. Retrieved
from http://www.cyberartsweb.org/cpace/ht/jhup/history.html#1

Lynch, P.J. & Horton, S. (2009, January 15). Web Style Guide Online [Online book]. Retrieved
from http://www.webstyleguide.com/wsg3/index.html
Mears, R (2010). The overlap of constructivism and critical media literacy: The
cognitive processes of learning with technology. Retrieved from
http://artpracticeasresearch.wikischolars.columbia.edu/file/view/AACE09.d
oc
Shepherd, G. (2010). The Probe Method: A Constructivist Instructional Strategy. Meridian
(10979778), 13(1),4.Retrieved from
http://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/winter2010/shepherd/index.htm