I’m participating in Kelly Hines’ Blogging Challenge. The topic for Day Three states
What is a website that you cannot live without? Tell about your favorite features and how you use it in your teaching and learning.
In the year 2000 teachers were learning the power of the Internet; many were sharing their lesson plans using HTML code learned in inservice workshops. (“Everyone should learn to code” meant something different then.) Organizations like the National Endowment for the Humanities and business entities like USA Today were on board with supporting education. AOL, which we called “America Online” at the time, had a forum where teachers could provide homework help and tutoring. It was clear that something new was getting started, and it was going to be rich, and it was going to be fun.
I had a student teacher who had a family and a weekend job in addition to being a full-time student teacher. Even worse, due to a schedule mixup, she hadn’t taken American Lit yet at her college; it was scheduled for spring semester. That fall, though, she was teaching American Lit with me. One morning she came to school with a stack of web sites she had printed out after searching with Alta Vista. (Remember Alta Vista? It was the pre-Google Google.) I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if all the teacher sites were together, so we could save time searching?”
That summer I launched Web English Teacher.
It started growing almost immediately. I remember writing “Wow!” on weekly traffic reports the day there were 200 visitors in one day, the week there were 20,000 visitors in one week. When I had 1000 visitors in one hour, I took cake to school and celebrated with my lunch bunch.
Today it’s just one of many such collections. Keeping it current, however, keeps ME current. I often think of it as my ongoing professional development. It has become part of me the past 14 years, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.