MODULE 3 – Make a Homepage – (May 30-June 5)

In this module, you will make the first official page in your portfolio. This means making a decision on what authoring platform to use or deciding where and how to include your capstone work in an existing site (if you are planning on using one you’ve already created).

There is also a new topic this week, as we introduce the concept of Pieces of Flair both in the video and in the “Elaboration” section below. In short, you will create three pieces of flair as three components to your website that are custom made specifically for you and your website in order to make it uniquely yours.

Work in this module is due by June 5th (at or before 11:59 PM Eastern Time). We encourage you to begin early in the week – it is not possible to complete the entire module at the last minute.
Optional office half-hours start this week – We explain office half hours in the next module, but we are available if you need us here in Module 3.


Basic Assignment(s)

📜 Things to keep in mind

As you design your work, keep the following in mind:

  • Consider your Audience – While the intended audience for your portfolio might change over the course of the semester, we think it is very important to start by taking a few minutes to consider what purpose you would like your portfolio to serve and what that means about who will be looking at it. Will it be primarily for other teachers? For parents, students, or your principal? Will it be something you continue to develop for an eventual job search? Considering your audience will help you better design your portfolio to effectively communicate whatever message you are hoping to send.
  • Consider Feedback – Make sure you consider any feedback you got in Flipgrid about your designs and efforts from last week. Thinking about the advice you received there may be helpful before proceeding with this assignment.
  • The Rubric – Make sure that you align your homepage to our standards, rubric, and common issues for homepages. These are always available toward the end of every assignment.
  • A Work in Progress – You do not have to finalize your homepage now, as the goal in this course is always to get something working first and to continue to refine it based on feedback.
  • Need Inspiration? – Consider examples from the homepages you saw when you reviewed portfolios from last semester. Pull up some of those examples for inspiration!
  • What goes on your homepage? – It’s up to you what you think users should see when landing on your site. Maybe it’s a picture, a blog, a biography, or a summary of what’s (going to be) on your website.

✍️ Start building your portfolio

This week you will design your homepage on the platform you have chosen. Taking into account your experiences with web design last week, who your intended audience is, and any feedback you received from Flipgrid, focus on making a page that is useful, organized, readable, and suited to your audience. If you are using an existing portfolio for this class you may need to make some re-design tweaks to your homepage so that it is a more encompassing introduction to the pages that will soon be added. Since you are further along, please also ensure that you have added those forthcoming pages (e.g., the essays, resumé, annotated transcript, showcase, etc). They will (obviously) be empty, but we want to have a good idea about how you are planning to structure the portfolio requirements around what you already have.

✔️ Update your ShareTracker entry

Now that you have a homepage, your instructors and fellow classmates need to know where it is. Your assignment is to go to the ShareTracker, and update the link for your website.

Use these steps:

  1. Highlight your name
  2. Find and click the “insert link” button or use the short-cut (ctrl-K)
  3. Enter the address of your website

🎥 Post a video reflection

Post a video reflection about your homepage on Flipgrid, using the following steps:

  1. Add a response to this Flipgrid.
  2. Record your response while following the prompts for “designers” (and the rubric).
  3. Fill in the informational fields — Fill in your full name (first and last), give your video a descriptive title, and then give a full link to the webpage you created for this module.

Please remember that order to get good feedback, you need to post good reflections as per our rubric.

🎥 Provide feedback to peers

Whenever you share work in this class, you will also give feedback to others (as well as receive feedback). The routine for providing this feedback is to visit Flipgrid and respond to two initial videos. Please give priority to those videos that don’t have any feedback. If there are not two videos yet (i.e., you’re the first to do the assignment), you’re off the hook for the week.

Add your two pieces of feedback to this Flipgrid.

  • Prioritize providing feedback to those who do not have any feedback.
  • Watch their post, and any feedback videos that may have already been left.
  • Visit their webpage (click on the URL that should be posted with their video).
  • In making your video response, make sure to follow the prompts (and the rubric).
  • Fill in the informational fields — Fill in your full name (first and last). Your email address is optional.

Please keep in mind that good feedback is vital to this course, as per our rubric.

🔍 Learn about 'Pieces of Flair'

In order to complete your portfolio, you need to create three Pieces of Flair, or parts of your portfolio that are customized to you and your audience. The first piece is due by the end of Module 5. Your assignment this week is to read about Pieces of Flair here, understand the Pieces of Flair system, and start to think about pieces you might want for your portfolio.

☑️ Check yourself: Standards, rubric, and common issues for designing a homepage

As you design your homepage, please use the following standards to guide your work. These represent the particular criteria that your instructors will use to evaluate your portfolio.

  • Readability: Is the text on your website consistent and easy to read?
  • Color and Contrast: Does your choice of colors make the website easy to read?
  • Navigation: Are your links logical, consistent, and effective?
  • Multimedia: Do you appropriately integrate the images, sound, and video you use with the rest of your website?
  • Attribution: Do you provide correct attribution for the images, videos, and other resources you use?

Common issues

  • The titles of drop-down menus are often also links and should lead somewhere, not just to a blank page!
  • Make sure that you’ve carefully considered the privacy implications of including pictures of your children or students.
  • Linking back to the original source is necessary but not sufficient for a proper attribution.

✔️ Update Columns in the ShareTracker

At the end of each module, you will update the ShareTracker to submit your work for this module, and let us know about any revisions to previous work.

The Sharetracker is linked here, and available through the menubar at the top of this website.

Now is the time to “submit” your work by updating the ShareTracker. Specifically, do the following:

  • Find your row in the ShareTracker, and find the Columns that correspond to this module
  • Enter “done” for each part of the module you have completed
  • Put “revised” and a date, for any assignments you have revised from previous modules

That’s it, you’re done with the ShareTracker for this Module.

🗒️ Feedback and Assessment

Every week you should be in the habit of checking your feedback notebook for any new feedback from the instructors. This includes checking on feedback received from the previous module, as well as checking in on any feedback from any revisions you have done. Make sure you go over this feedback and formulate a plan to address any aspects of your work that need revision.

When you submit your work this week, also submit update the ShareTracker with any revisions you have recently done. For example, if you change your homepage based on feedback, go to the ShareTracker and replace “Done” with “Revised 12/30/20” (use the actual date of your revision). It may take up to a week before your instructors can provide feedback from this Module, or from any revisions you have submitted. If feedback is taking longer than a week, please let us know about it, we may have missed your work.

You can find your feedback notebook: a) As a link within the ShareTracker, b) The Roster page.


☑️ Rubric for posting reflections and feedback

When you post and reply in this course, please pay attention to the following guidelines. These guidelines also form the basis for the rubric used to grade your discussion contribution.

What makes for a good post?

It depends on the specific assignment, but the following generally apply:

  • Pay attention to the prompts.
  • Use a good portion of the 3 minutes allotted to you.
  • Show us what you’re thinking and why you’re thinking it.
  • When sharing your own work, point to some places where people who respond to you might be most helpful in giving you feedback.

What makes for a good feedback?

Good feedback is important in all design activities, including the design of portfolios. It is especially important in this class. When giving feedback, keep in mind that good feedback is:

  • Thorough – Use a good portion of the 3 minutes allotted to you. Try to cover as many aspects of the assignment that you can—do not focus on only one thing. However, don’t try to cover too much, because each point you make should have some details (see next point).
  • Specific – Avoid generalities like “you had a good design,” and instead be more specific, like “your headers are easy to read, clear, and helpful in breaking up text into more manageable pieces.”
  • Critical – Point out what needs improving. Even if you’re looking at the best piece of work, you can give the author something to think about working towards or thinking about differently.
  • Supportive – Point out what is working well. Even the earliest of drafts is the start of something good that can be highlighted as a success.

🎥 Detailed Flipgrid instructions

Basic Posting

On camera, make sure you start each video by saying your name. For example, “Hi, this is Matthew Koehler, and today I’m talking about …. ”

After you record your video, there are a couple of fields to fill out. Make sure you pay particular attention to how we use these fields in the capstone course:

  • First Name – Put in your first name.
  • Last Name – Put in your last name.
  • Email – This is optional, but if you give your email address you will be able to delete or update this video by yourself without instructor intervention.
  • Title – Give your video a descriptive title (e.g., “my awesome resumé page”, “need help with Weebly formatting!”, etc.).
  • Link – Give the full link to the website or page you created for this assignment so that others can visit it and provide feedback to you.

App for your Phone

There is a Flipgrid app for your phone that you may wish to use instead. Visit the appropriate app store for your phone to download it.

The app may have several advantages over using your computer, in that if you wish to discuss something you see on screen, it is easy to film the screen with your phone and point to what you’re talking about.

If you do use your phone, you will be prompted to “enter a code” to get to the right Flipgrid. The code for our class is “msu_capstone”. The password is “GoSparty” (capital “G” capital “S”)

Technical Problems

Flipgrid does require Flash installed on your computer. It also requires a working camera and microphone—these are things you would need for the exhibition and tech check or office half-hours anyway. Consider using your phone if you don’t have one on your desktop. If you have problems beyond simply installing Flash, a camera, and a microphone, try the excellent Flipgrid support page, or contact us.

💯 Policy for due dates, early work, and late work

Deadlines. Although we say “deadlines”, the course is designed to be flexible with pacing. Our “deadlines” are firm suggestions on how to stay on track in this course. Unless stated otherwise, the “deadline” for all work in a given module is due at 11:59 PM Michigan time on the last day of the module. The only true deadline in the course is that the final online portfolio is firmly due on the last day of class with no exceptions.

Early Work. The course dates we have laid out are minimum pacing requirements. Please feel free to complete the course faster than these required dates. The only minor hiccup may be around the final exhibition (Module 11), which is scheduled during a specific week. If we have enough people wanting to finish faster, we can likely have an early exhibition (or two).

Late Work. we have worked hard to design the course around modules and due dates that keep you on pace to complete a high-quality portfolio on time. We understand that life happens—getting sick, busy times at work, technology troubles, global pandemics, just to name a few—and things don’t go according to plan. If this happens, we expect you to communicate with your instructor before you miss a due date. In this communication, let your instructor know when you will have the work completed. If you aren’t sure, communicate the uncertainty and then communicate again when you do know. We are happy to work with you, but it is your responsibility to proactively communicate.

❓ What is the bonuses and bummers policy?

When you contribute feedback at the end of a module, you are usually expected to provide feedback to two of your classmates.

Our Bonuses and Bummers policy describes exceptions to this expectation as follows:

  • Bonus – If you’re the first person to submit your work for an assignment, you do not have to provide any feedback to anyone.
  • Bonus – If you’re the second person to submit your work for an assignment, you only have to provide feedback to one person (the person who submitted first).
  • Bummer – If you’re the last person to submit your work for a task or Piece of Flair, you probably won’t receive any feedback from anyone.

🔍 The parts that make up a portfolio

The portfolio you make in this class has several components. The first component is the technology used to create and display your online portfolio (Weebly, Wix, WordPress, Google Sites, etc.). The process of deciding what technology to use is a scaffolded choice that happens throughout Module 1, Module 2, and Module 3, although you can revisit this decision at any time.

Once you have chosen a technology, this course helps you build 7 required pages that go in your portfolio, although there can be great flexibility and individuality in how these required pages are implemented in your portfolio. These seven pages are:

  • A home page (Module 3) – You create a landing page, or the first page that viewers see when visiting your online portfolio.
  • A resumé / vita (Module 5) – You create a page that highlights your professional preparation, appointments, skills, and goals.
  • A showcase (Module 6) – You create a page that shows examples or artifacts of your best work from your master’s program.
  • An annotated transcript (Module 8) – You create a page that lists the courses and topics covered as part of your master’s program.
  • Three reflective essays – You reflect upon your past, present, and future learning in the form of three essays:

In addition to the seven required pages, you will add three or more components that are specifically tailored to you and your portfolio. We call these Pieces of Flair, and you mix and match these components in a way that adds breadth and depth to your portfolio. You might, for example, add a page that describes your classroom (that would be one Piece of Flair), or connect to your presence on LinkedIn (that would be another Piece of Flair).

One website technology, PLUS 7 required pages, PLUS 3 (or more) pieces of flair will give you a website that will be uniquely yours and that you can be proud of.

❓ How do I complete the tech-check requirement?

Finding ways to meet face-to-face in an online class can be tough, but we’ve found that it’s worth it, especially for your exhibition in Module 11. To make exhibitions go smoothly and to give you some additional opportunities for face-to-face feedback, we require you to check out the Capstone Coffeehouse technology at least once by the end of Module 10. In short, the Capstone Coffeehouse is Zoom – the video conferencing software we use in this course.

You can find some general information on using the Capstone Coffeehouse here. To fulfill this requirement (and get your points), you must specifically do four things:

  • Check video: Make sure that your webcam is working and that you (and others) show up on the screen when you join the Coffeehouse. This should happen automatically.
  • Check audio: Make sure that you can hear other people in the Coffeehouse and that they can hear you. Zoom, the Coffeehouse technology, should ask you for permission to use your speakers and microphone once you join. In a few cases, though, this takes a little fiddling to get it to work properly.
  • Check chat: Make sure that you know how to open the chat window in Zoom (the Coffeehouse technology) and that you can read and write messages properly. If you’re using the Zoom desktop client, the Chat button should appear at the bottom of the Zoom window.
  • Check a page: You (and each of your classmates) should take a few minutes to share a page that you’ve recently completed. If possible, make this a Piece of Flair page, but you really have free range on what you’d like to look at. Have some specific questions and concerns in mind: What are you trying to accomplish with this page? What are you still struggling with? This is a great chance to “practice” for the end-of-semester exhibitions and to get some more face-to-face feedback, which capstone students consistently point to as one their most valuable experiences.

For most people, the Tech Check is a quick and easy assignment, but problems do occasionally occur. If you are experiencing frustration with the Tech Check, keep in mind that it’s better to experience this during the Tech Check than during the exhibition! Also, please remember what you had to do to get past the difficult spots, just in case they come up again.

There are two ways to complete the Tech Check: through office half hours or with a classmate.

Office half hours (if you prefer to talk to instructors)

In addition to talking about your portfolio during an office half hours session, you can carry out the Tech Check with the instructor who is running office half hours. Just mention that you’d like to take care of your Tech Check, and she or he will walk you through the steps and make sure to give you the points!

Classmate (if you prefer to talk to your fellow educators)

The great thing about the Coffeehouse technology is that it is available 24/7. If one of the office half hours sessions doesn’t work for you or you would prefer to meet with a classmate instead, you can schedule a time to meet with a classmate in the Coffeehouse and take care of the Tech Check on your own. Walk through the four specific steps listed above, and once you’ve made sure that everything works for all of you, send us an email to let us know that you took care of everything. While this should be a short email, please include enough detail that we know who you worked with and that you walked through all four steps together.

❓ When are office half hours?

Office half hours are optional times that instructors are available for you to meet online in our capstone coffeehouse to discuss your work, ask questions, or get additional feedback. They are completely and totally optional, although office half hours is one way you can meet the tech-check requirement.

Our office half hours are held in the capstone coffeehouse (under the “Communicate” menu).

Office half hours are:

  • With Matt Koehler
  • Tuesday Evenings, 9:00-9:30PM (Michigan Time)
  • OR, by appointment (reach out to make an appointment via email)

Exhibition preparation

Office half hours are opportunities to prepare for the end-of-semester exhibition in Module 11. This is particularly true from a technology perspective, since we want to help you iron out any bugs or problems well ahead of time. However, this is also true from a face-to-face perspective; one of the most common things we hear every semester is that people wish they had had more opportunities to meet with classmates and instructors face to face. Although we don’t have any “mid-semester exhibitions,” office half hours are meant to provide this kind of opportunity throughout the semester!

By appointment

If any of these times don’t work for you, and you need help or need to meet the Tech Check requirement by the end of Module 10, contact us to schedule an alternative time for you that works.

Please also keep in mind that you can use the Coffeehouse to meet with your classmates! If you’d like to get some face-to-face feedback from someone in your house, just set up a time to meet together and use the Coffeehouse to do it!

Where are office half hours?

Access office half hours by clicking the ☕ button on the menubar on the top of this page, or by reading our full overview of and instructions for the Coffeehouse.


❓ Why make a homepage?

Your homepage is the first page that visitors see when arriving to your site. It provides a first impression and shows readers what is available on your site. Developing a homepage is an important step in creating your portfolio—you should continue to revisit it and update its design as your portfolio changes.

Creating a well-developed home page is particularly important for the purposes of this course because your instructors and your peers will likely use your homepage to guide them as they give you feedback on your portfolio. The more effective your homepage is, the easier it will be for everyone to give you useful feedback.

Your homepage will also serve you well even after you’re done with this course. Your family, friends, and potential employers will likely use your homepage to guide them in exploring your website. It is also a great chance to sum up who you are and what you’re doing; you can thereby tailor the first impression they get of you. This is true for both those you know and those who want to get to know you a little bit better (and maybe offer you a job!).

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