So, I’m not at ISTE 2014 this year, but here are some of the things I’m watching:
Summer break has begun across the country for most everyone, and with that break brings preparation for the next school year. I plan to write about a few topics this summer, putting out a few web tools and apps that you might find useful. Each week will have a theme as well!
This week I want to focus on communication with Parents. It is essential to keep Parents/grandparents/guardians involved in what is going on in their child’s classroom, as an engaged parent is a helpful parent. Keeping them in the loop will bring offers of help, spur conversations at home, and preemptively answer questions (maybe even cutting down on emails!)
Three tools to that end:
Weebly is a simple and easy web page creator and host. Can be created from a computer web browser or a mobile device, it uses easy drag-and-drop design, tons of templates, and more. If you can use Word, you can use Weebly. If you like Publisher, you’ll be up to speed with Weebly in no time. Easily and quickly keep parents up to date on class projects and activities. Try out Weebly for a summer gathering to get familiar with it! Weebly has for-pay plans, but their free service will work for all classrooms.
Remind is a free “communication platform built for teachers. Using Remind101, teachers can engage their students and parents more effectively without needing to know their cell phone numbers and without having to give their phone number out.” Basically it is a web-based text message system like those you might sign up for a restaurants to receive deals, but for the classroom. Your parents sign up for your messages, and you can preschedule or send texts as needed. Field trip reminders, papers to be returned, and anything else that fits in a short text message can be sent easily to parents, and no one knows your cell phone number. Open a free Remind account and put in your own phone number to test out the system!
My Big Campus is our district’s Learning Management System, or LMS. Similar to Edmodo, Canvas, and others, My Big Campus allows full class collaboration online. Assignments can be created and turned in electronically, students can upload and save files to the service, post blogs and upload pictures, and much more. My Big Campus also has a Parent Portal component which will let your parents keep tabs on their student’s activities and requirements. Parents can see what is happening in your class and all of your updates, but they don’t see things that other students post, keeping student work private. Teachers can also share resources with students and teachers. Your district might use Canvas or Edmodo or some other product, so look into that!
Consider all of these tools as you think about new ways to include your parents in your classroom activities! If you know of others, let me know and I’ll include them in future posts.