Creating a Web Site for Onekama Elementary School

Barb Eldridge, Fifth Grade Teacher, and Newly Fledged Webmaster 7/1997

Grade 5 Homepage 1998
Grade 5 Homepage 1999
Grade 5 HomePage 2000
Grade 5 HomePage 2001
Barb Eldridge HomePage

Help Pages for Teachers

What motivated me to want to create a web site?

I have been very involved in using the computer since I began to work with those friendly PETS in the early 1980's. Over the years I have used Logo Language, Word Processing, and HyperStudio. After taking a "Classroom Presentations" class at Chittenden Center, I began using the computer as a teaching tool with such programs as Astound and PowerPoint. The idea of placing my students' writings and photographs on an internet web site appealed to me. What better way to showcase their work? I looked at many elementary school sites and concluded I could do it.

Beginning steps

I first practiced on an Angelfire site in the fall of 1996. Angelfire is free, and I learned quite a bit. My students were able to type in their essays, and I was also able to upload their text files. Making changes was simple. It was a satisfactory start. Alas, loading photographic images was difficult, and when Angelfire crashed, we lost everything. I felt we needed a website where I could store a copy on my own computer.

I next purchased PageMill , an editor program, and began to put together a small web. I had no idea how I would launch it. I also began learning a bit of html, a direction I would not recommend.

Before I was ready, I found myself and others at Chittenden, a local Science Center, making a web using the editor program FrontPage. This was fun, but the missing ingredient was Control. I still did not have control of the web site. I could not make additions and corrections at will.

Stage 1: Getting Serious about making a web

In the summer of 1997, I started learning FrontPage for Macintosh and also for PC. The PC used was the one we made in Goals 2000. I went through the tutorial on both the Mac and PC. (There is little difference) Pages could be moved back and forth between the two computers with few problem. I practiced making pages and pages and pages. I downloaded other people's webs and studied their techniques. Several books I found useful were FrontPage 97 Unleashed by Staneck, Wild Web Graphics with Microsoft Image Composer, and PhotoShop 3. I would guess I averaged three hours a day all summer. I made many false starts along trails I decided not to follow. When I needed help, I'd e-mail Tom Johnson at Chittenden, or Jim Stamm in Benzonia.

Hardware Needs

I quickly recognized I needed a bigger Macintosh computer. I ended up buying a Macintosh G3 because my 6320 was being over burdened by the web requirements . I ended up buying a second G3 and am pleased with the performance of these machines. (I keep Virtual PC on one)

A digital camera is nice to have ( I've used the Ricoh 300 and the Olympus D300L). I prefer the Olympus because it allows me to take photographs in the traditional way, holding the viewfinder up to your eye, which is easier with my own bifocal lenses. It also uses far less batteries than the Ricoh. Other teachers like the Ricoh camera. Students did well with the Ricoh . I guess it is a personal preference. Try before you buy. Back to the top

Attempting to Launch was the hardest thing of all, I thought

It was very difficult getting a web site. It was more than a six weeks from the time I first asked our Local Internet Provider for a spot to place my web, until I actually placed it. Once the service provider provided me with a space I tried to upload from the PC using CuteFTP. I tried for days and never could get it up. In desperation, I moved the whole web from the PC to the Macintosh. (It fit on one floppy disk.) I downloaded FETCH, an FTP program, and launched on the first try. I highly recommend Fetch from Dartmouth College. It's free and it's easy but it only works for a Mac. (I also highly recommend using a Macintosh computer.)

Stage 2: Getting Staff Members Involved in Wanting a Web Site

By the time school started in September, I had an elementary index page with the staff listed and ready to link to their pages. There seemed to be little interest at first, except for one first grade teacher and one second grade teacher. We started there. The second grade teacher, Mrs. Kahl, invited me to the second and third grade classrooms where I photographed the classes and made a page for each. That was it. One page and one picture on it. Yet, it was a start. I did the same for the Kindergarten, DK, First, and Fourth grades. Teachers began asking if this or that could go on the page. Mrs. Jordan's first grade page was the first to have pictures and paragraphs about events. The Kindergarten class wanted a page on dissecting owl pellets. Next the Developmental Kindergarten teacher wanted to work on pages answering the question, "What is DK?" We were really starting to expand. Back to the top

Advertising that the web was available

Well, we had a web site, and a few pages. However not many in town, or even on our staff, knew we existed. I had not anticipated being the PR person. I began making posters covered with web pages. I attached little tear off notes giving the address. Most of this type of advertising was done within our school. I needed the teachers to see the value of the site. More parents seemed to find us as teachers sent home notes with our web address. Then came the big breakthrough: Many teachers discovered the digital cameras. They were easy to use! Teachers began borrowing the cameras, taking pictures in their classrooms, and writing paragraphs to go with each picture.

By this time I was spending 20 to 25 hours a week on the web.

Each night I would come home, down load teacher's photographs from the cameras. Then I would pull each image individually into PhotoShop 3 and decide what to do with it. I would generally crop, brighten, and save with a name that made sense (to me). I would make new pages, add the digital images (and hopefully the paragraphs the teacher or students wrote). I tried explaining that teachers needed to delete any pictures that they didn't want before giving them to me. I put little notes in each camera case explaining how to do that. I asked teachers for more text to explain the event. Student quotes from the youngest children, or student written paragraphs from the older children was what I really wanted. I was giving myself a whole lot of work. Soon I began to think I was suffering from Sleep Deprivation! That's when I decided I needed to begin Stage 3.

Stage 3: Teaching Staff Members to maintain their own homepages.

The next obvious step seems to be to train individuals to make and manage their own pages. So..... I made a worksheet for teachers!

From the start I had planned to train other teachers to run their own site in the second year. The time was now I decided, or I might not live to see a second year! During our spring vacation, I plan to train 2 to 4 teachers to make and maintain their own web. These are enthusiastic teachers just itching to manage their own material. I can hardly wait to see the results. When summer comes, I hope to start more groups. In this way I will lessen my own work. My goal is that they will completely manage their own classroom pages. Our main site will link to and from their homepages. I realize that not all teachers will choose to manage their site. I can continue to do it for those people. My goal is that half of the elementary staff will do their own pages. Back to the top

Stage 4: Who knows what happens next?

Every year our administration has us write goals for the coming year. Every year I end up involved in activities I did not even know existed in September. That's how it was with HyperStudio, PageMaker, PowerPoint, and my now over 100 page Elementary Web Site. Who knew? But each has been an exciting adventure. I've loved every minute of making our Onekama Elementary School Web Site.

Barb Eldridge, March 7, 1998

This Onekama Elementary School site was created using Microsoft's Front Page . Both a Macintosh and a PC were used. Most headlines were made with Microsoft's Image Composer. At first all the photographs were generated by an Olympus digital camera . Later, a Ricoh digital camera, part of Goals 2000 was also used. Images were pulled into Adobe's PhotoShop on a Macintosh computer. Other photographs were taken with a camcorder and captured by Apple Video Player. Student art was scanned on a the Printer/Copier/Scanner, provided by the Goals 2000 Program.

Thank you Tom Johnson and Chittenden for providing the "Classroom Presentations" (1995-1996) and "Goals 2000" (1997-1998) programs. The lessons, equipment, and fellow students were valuable every step along the way. Thank you Jim Stamm and Sue Kahl for all your helpful suggestions! Thank you Ray and Sue for allowing me to spend most of my summer (fall and winter) in front of the computer or with my nose in a manual. Back to the top

Main Onekama Elementary Page. 1997-1998
Main Onekama Elementary Page 1998-1999
Main Onekama Elementary Page 1999-2000
Main Onekama Elementary Page 2000-2001

Main Onekama School Page