I’m Amanda from A Very Curious Class. I’m excited to help Nicki out today while she is on her mission trip.
I thought for a week or so about what I wanted to share with you. Parent communication is important to me, so I decided to share a couple tools I use to make communication a little easier in this technological age. All of these services are incredibly easy to set up and are free!
I use remind 101 for quick reminders. At the beginning of the year, I share information about Remind 101 with families. We have conferences prior to school starting, so I share information with families then. Open House/Meet the Teacher Night would also be a good time to share this information. Parents just send a text to the phone number provided for you by Remind 101 to subscribe. You are then able to text all families at the same time. It does not give out your personal cell phone number; Remind 101 assigns you a number. I believe they now have an app, but last year I just did my reminders on my computer. You have a 140 character limit (like a tweet). You are able to schedule your reminders for the future, so I typically set up a month at a time of the items I knew were coming up. I kept it to a text or two (at most) a week.
I remind families of early dismissals, parties/special events, permission slips needing signed, etc. My students' families appreciated this quick communication sent directly to their phones.
Sign Up Genius is used to have parents choose their date/time to sign up for a particular activity. My uses for this were parent-teacher conferences and our Valentine's Day party. I plan to use it more this year for volunteers as well as conferences and parties.
The parents in my room who used this last year loved it. They were able to see the times that were available and even change their own time to an available time if they had a conflict. It saved me a lot of time guessing what time might be convenient for people and trying to get everyone in at their ideal time.
On the day of conferences, I went in and printed out my schedule. We are required to turn our schedule in when conferences were completed.
The final tool I want to share with you is Weebly. Weebly is a great way to blog with your class. It is free, easy to set up and has plenty of storage room and personality.
Two years ago, each of my students had their own blog and posted at least once a week. They loved it! This past year, the website was updated and our computers were not. We could not blog in our room, which did not make it easy to keep up with blogging.
I actually presented at the eTech Ohio Conference in February 2012, sharing my use of Weebly with my students. We started off the year with students dictating their thoughts and an adult volunteer typing for them. The second step was to have students log-in independently then the adult volunteer typed for them. Starting in January, an adult volunteer wrote the students' dictations on white boards, and students typed their own posts. At the end of the year (end of April- end of May), students wrote independently. It was awesome to see their growth over the course of the year.
You are able to monitor any comments posted on the blogs as well as monitor each student's account through your "master" account. One of my students' favorite parts was choosing their background/header photo.
Here is an example from a student two years ago. He was advanced for the end of the kindergarten and very "to the point" when it came to writing. Short and sweet, but got the point across. The link goes to his webpage, click "Kevin's Blog" in the top right to read his blog posts.
A second example from two years ago. Sydney loved to write! She used anchor charts and other text available from our experiences to help with her spelling.
I had a grandmother who lived out of town when we blogged two years ago. She would read each entry and leave a comment for her granddaughter. Each time her granddaughter blogged, she loved hearing from "Grammie". It was wonderful to see that we were able to reach those near and far. Blogging was a great way to show students writing for different purposes as well!
I hope you found a new tool or two that you can use to communicate with students' families. Come on over and check out my blog, A Very Curious Class, and let me know what you use to communicate with families. What tips do you have to encourage families to take advantage of these tools? Thanks for reading!