After some debate, I settled on Synthasite (recently mentioned on LFWD) for my students to create their websites. Today's agenda: sign up for a site, pick a layout and color scheme, and copy the ten quality links they collected about their topics last week.
The site loaded quickly for everyone and is pretty simple to figure out and use. It was a little buggy (two students tried to publish their site but got error messages, various seemingly innocuous and jargon-coated error pop-ups while editing), but the kids were definitely getting the hang of it.
I scaffolded the activity for students who were lost, providing them links to get them going on their topic. The one I was most worried about responded by finding some of the funniest math videos I've ever seen (which we were able to easily embed using Synthasite's easy tools):
Math Rap 2007
Math Rap 2008
Thank you, Billy Spivey! I'll be having the rest of my students watch this as a Do Now tomorrow. I'm also going to have them look at the Visual Classroom photo collection on Flickr (found via misterteacher). I want them to get some inspiration to try some of the same things themselves later in the week. I already asked them to revisit the tools we used last week and try to make something specifically geared towards their topic; perhaps this will help.
The kids haven't published their sites yet, but rest assured I will share them here and through the class blog.
Tomorrow in class, we'll talk about finding images and video, taking your own images, and how to post them onto their site. I think they'll have a lot of fun, and so will I.