Sorry Joe, I didn't know it would be hard to find. Let me send you to my page where I have direct links to the sign up pages of those two sites and others for teachers. I double checked google and lunar pages and it goes right to the page you need.
http://www.lunarpages.com has the link down at the bottom right of the home page, it is small and easy to miss. There is a sign-up procedure that you will have to go through that will take about a week. I really like their service, my school site has been down twice in the last 1 1/3 years, That is not bad. Recently updated the site at www.chaparralmiddle.us
Lunarpages is free for all public schools in the US. There is a process that one has to go through to prove your school qualifies. As I said before, supposedly the storage space is 500 mb, however I have been running above that for some time, no complaints from them. Be sure to request a Linux server when applying as the windows servers do not have the fantistico scripts for installing applications like Moodle, etc.
I'm in a simliar situation, Joe. I've used Blogger, but the look and design is very limiting. I've never used a wiki, but you can get free web pages and blog from WordPress, www.wordpress.com. I really like the look and it's easy to use.
it depends on what you want to use your website for.
pages.google.com offers good (free) service. www.21classes.com is good for students/teachers coolab. blogging.
there are many others, but I guess it doesn't help much just to spill out a list of websites here... it's already hard enough to make up our minds on which service to use (at least I feel like that sometimes)...
I have worked with Hostgator for a few years and I have been very happy. I can't say that it has gone without a hitch, but I have continuously pushed the envelope and their support has been absolutely great. They are very reasonable--but not the cheapest (but on the low end) starting at 4.95/mo USD--plus domain registry (Bring your own or pay them $15/yr).
I am distrustful of "free" as your options may be limited (not to mention privacy concerns). Lunar Pages may be an exception (and they are consistently rated as a reliable provider). They don't offer much space for free (500 MB storage and 20 GB transfer), but it is probably enough. I assume they offer a Control Panel with Fantastico like they do on their regular accounts. This makes it a snap to install software like WordPress or Moodle in seconds. It's incredibly easy--even for an absolute beginner. Hostgator has a demo of the control panel, so you can get an idea what I am talking about. This kind of option allows you to install any kind of software you like--blog, wiki, content management system, etc on your own with a few clicks and keystrokes.
While you can get started without it, you should download and learn how to use an ftp client so that you can further customize by uploading themes and extensions for the software.
If you pay for hosting, I recommend going month-to-month so you can switch hosts if it doesn't work out. Make sure they have good 24/7 tech support. You want one with phone support, but you will probably be best served using email support when you need it (I doubt any company puts its best support personnel on the phone).
Steve, thanks for taking the time to respond. You helped me with many of my questions and I will definitely look into an ftp client. I am trying to learn as much as I can so I will be ready for when I actually get to the classroom. I don't want to get there and then learn. Thanks for being patient and explaining this stuff to me even though I am so new to it all.
I actually have a presentation on this topic that I could publish to the web. I presented it our state technology conference NYSCATE this fall. It covers this topic discussing advantages, disadvantages, and rationale. Then it walks you through the process of choosing a provider, obtaining a domain name, set up a shared hosting account, configuring your domain so it points to your hosted server space (DNS settings), then installing website software using a control panel.
If there is any interest, let me know and I'll put it up.
I have been using my wiki page a lot more than my district web page. It is just as easy...sometimes easier. I use pbwiki in my classroom. The kids like to use it too! It is free for educators for the basic wiki.