return to 4teachers  return to KidSpeak contents

Lissa explains it all!
Student creates award-winning site to teach kids HTML.
By Melissa Brown

There are hundreds of tech help books and Web sites out there to help people learn more about the Internet and how to create Web pages, but how many of those sites are geared just to teach kids? This month, Kidspeak spoke with a high school student named Alyssa who saw a need for such a resource and has created a remarkable Web page that provides HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) help just for kids. Her Web site called Lissa Explains it All was launched three years ago when she was teaching herself HTML, "I noticed that it was not that easy to find out how to do [HTML]. And I understood it, so I figured that I would start a page to make it easy to understand."
  "The easy to understand language is appealing to people of any age who want to get up to speed on creating their own Web site. "  

Alyssa's interest in technology began in elementary school. "I just got on a computer one day. I just had a lot of fun, you know, looking around the Internet and everything. I figured I'd get into it." A couple years later, she created her site and has been expanding it ever since. Even though it was made for kids, she finds that her audience base also includes a lot of adults as well. The easy to understand language is appealing to people of any age who want to get up to speed on creating their own Web site.


Since Alyssa created the site, she has received many online awards and has even been featured on CNN Science and Technology and Headline News. The site is a wonderful resource for learning basic HTML or expanding your current knowledge base to include more advanced skills like cascading style sheets and javascript.

For Alyssa, learning HTML was just a matter of experimenting and viewing the source code of sites she saw on the Web. With all of the HTML editors available for building Web pages, we asked Alyssa if there were any that she would use or recommend. "I just do raw HTML. I don't reference people to editors often because they really screw up the HTML sometimes. And it really doesn't always get it accurate. So I use raw HTML all of the time," said Alyssa.

"Throughout the tutorials and in her Library section Alyssa provides software reviews and book recommendations to help you make informed choices when making your own purchases."

Although HTML editors are a quick and easy way to create your own Web page, knowing HTML code is still very important. A basic knowledge of HTML can help you find errors in the code and will ensure that you can create your page exactly the way you want it.
Before you learn to write HTML, there are several issues involved in setting up a Web site.That's why Alyssa's site begins with a section called Basics. There you will learn about such topics as: how a Web page works, what is HTML, and what you need to get started. The section proceeds to teach you about more complex issues like where to get your own domain name, choosing a Web host for your site, and how to create your own graphics. Throughout the tutorials and in her Library section Alyssa provides software reviews and book recommendations to help you make informed choices when making your own purchases.


Once you learn the basics you're ready to start learning to write HTML code. In this section you learn how to make a basic Web page, add backgrounds, put text on the page, and more. The next few sections teach you about the more complex subjects like frames, tables, cascading style sheets, adding color, and javascript. "It only took a week to get it started up with the graphics and everything, but I keep adding on to it so it always expands," said Alyssa.

As the site keeps growing, Alyssa gets a lot of feedback and questions from her readers. In order to keep up with that feedback, she created a forum where people can post questions. Although she doesn't have much help updating the site, she does have moderators that help her answer questions in the forum section. She's careful who she chooses to moderate the forum. "Well, they have to be over 18. Some of them I've known for a little while on the Internet and some of them I knew from the forum and I knew they were responsible people," says Alyssa.



In addition to her award-winning Web site, Alyssa is also involved in technology projects at her school. The dean chose her to be part of a small group of students who will be working on her school's Web site this summer. She says there are a lot of opportunities to learn technology at her school. "Actually, my teacher uses my site as a reference for the class," said Alyssa.
In her free time, Alyssa enjoys using the Internet to talk to her friends on AOL Instant Messenger. She also uses the Net to keep up on news and interesting articles. "More than creating content for my pages, I really like creating graphics and seeing what looks cool," said Alyssa. Currently her favorite software programs are Adobe PhotoShop and Flash.

Alyssa encourages other people to take their ideas for Web sites and run with them. "If you have an original idea, people will go more to your site because you are the one with the ideas. It has to be interesting," said Alyssa. She also thinks creating a site is a good way to learn about technology, "technology is really taking over the world now, it's basically something you need to know. You need to know everything about computers because we are using them everywhere." Well, she's certainly off to a great start!


kidspeak logo

Students interviewed for KidSpeak are nominated by teachers. Send nominations to the editor.

Copyright. © 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997 ALTec, the University of Kansas