The beginning of the year is the ideal time to forge relationships with students and their families. Today, we have more options than ever for communicating with members of our learning communities. Here are some of my favorites:
- Remind (formerly Remind 101): Remind is a terrific free tool for sending brief, timely messages to students and families. Create a class. Invite families (and students). Families join, opting to receive either text messages or e-mails. All messages come through Remind, so phone numbers remain private. What I love most about Remind is the ability to compose reminders in advance, and schedule them for delivery on specific dates & times. Use Remind to help families stay on top of everything, including classroom updates, field trips and spirit days.
- Twitter: Tweet to share the fantastic learning happening in your classroom! Maintain an account for professional use only.
- Blog: A classroom blog allows you to share a variety of information (long form text, images, video, calendar, links, forms, etc.) all in one place. You may choose to have students author blog posts; families will enjoy reading their children’s work, and students will hone their writing skills!
- Class Dojo: Class Dojo is a management tool that allows you to easily keep track of student points for any goal (e.g., attendance, participation, homework completion). Students and families can check in to monitor their points. Students will love customizing their avatars, and you will love how simple it is to track and share classroom management data.
- YouTube: Create a class YouTube channel to share special events & projects with the world. recording special classroom celebrations & activities is also a way for family members who aren’t able to attend feel included.
- Newsletters: I know, I know, hard copy newsletters are so old school! They are also, however, still a good way to let families know what is going on in the classroom. Especially if not all of your students’ families have access to the internet. Students can even author some or all of the content, providing them with an authentic writing task and audience.
Communication is a two-way street. Ensure that communication between school and home flows both ways. E-mail, blog comments, and home surveys are just a few methods to facilitate dialogue.
When sharing information online, always make sure to follow your school’s acceptable use policies for technology, and make sure to omit any & all student-identifying information. It’s also important to remember that not all families have access to digital resources; make sure to communicate in ways that include everyone in your learning community.