My summer goal #17: Develop a system to improve communication between my classroom and our families. I want parents to feel informed and connected.
I thought through what I wanted to achieve with my experiences of being part of a busy family. And after some research, my communication platforms will be Edmodo, Remind101, and Word Press (or Edu blog).
I felt there are two ways to go as a teacher…active and passive communication.
- Passive communication: When my parents have to decide to go to a website or link on their own, without prompting. Signing on to Edline, going to a class website or blog, when they remember, are examples of passive communication. I update and sit back…hoping the parents will check in.
- Active communication: I give “push notifications” that alert parents, then give them an option to click or read to learn more. I do this through emails, texts, or app alerts. I initiate the communication for events, homework, changes, or anything that warrants their attention. Parents can go about their day with a sense that I am activity working to keep in touch and will let them know what is going on.
Last year, parents fed back that they valued my notifications. I had used Edline to email homework, grade updates, and general info – keeping them up to date and aware. They easily read the information available by e-mail. However, most parents, even my most tech savvy, found Edline cumbersome and difficult to navigate. So in some cases, my e-mails gave them basic information, but working to get grades or into the homework site was enough of a challenge that they didn’t sign in to the program.
Now, for students, we used Edmodo last year.
For some of my most cunning, “Homework?” students, the excuses hit a wall.
Once I sat down with parents and showed them Edmodo and how easy it was to access via their smart phones and the internet, then rarely, if ever, did parents face the homework black hole again.
I also really liked Edmodo’s layout for progress reports and used it with students for goal setting and monitoring. However, since I had Edline, I never really engaged with the planner and the parent side of Edmodo.
Well… silly me!
- We brought up and viewed the Edmodo platform for student, parent, and teacher simultaneously. It was insightful!
- I can post homework, assignments, tests, events, and tasks on the planner and they come up on all 3 user accounts in a clean, easy to read way.
- Parents can view quizzes, pre-assessments, tests and assignments with simple, easy clicks…very little searching. It was all right there.
- They can look over their children’s posts and any feedback I leave on assignments (and I tend to leave typed feedback for most – seriously!)
- I can create quizzes, upload photos, web links, files, connect Google documents, and more! So I can upload homework assignments, handouts and such!
Forget it in your desk at school? No problem! Edmodo it!
- Edmodo can be accessed from the web, tablet, iPod, or smart phone. However, I recommend having families set up accounts by internet first (rather than an app). When my husband went to set up his account using the android app, it didn’t cue him to sign up as a parent ANYWHERE (I looked) and he ended up with a teacher account.
OPEN HOUSE: I will have my computer up at open house for student and parents to sign up right then.
- For parents without smart phones or the internet, I can export my Edmodo planner to PDF and print it out each week to send home with students. I have a feeling that will be the exception in this day and age…but I want to be prepared.
- Edmodo Negatives: I was surprized parents could see other students’ posts. I thought they could only see their own child’s replies. This seems to be the case when their child posts and other students reply and when their child comments to a teacher post.However, each child has their own unique parent code and I can monitor parents who are signed up. So that provides some oversight. I was still surprized.
“A positive parent-teacher relationship helps your child feel good about school and be successful in school” by Diane Levin, Ph.D.
- This past year I used Remind 101 as a texting platform to communicate with families. This helped with immediate alerts and with parents who have text but not app capability. I used this for quick updates or immediate alerts!
- I give parents a phone number, they text it, and they are signed up!
- No website to go to.
- No family data to enter on my end (except for the actual texts).
- I can view who is signed up.
- Communication is one way: teacher to user cell…but parents don’t access my cell phone number!
Real life example: We have thunderstorms that love to hit during car line. One day as we were walking to the buses…BAM!…thunder and lightening (yes it happens that fast). Students were put in the nearest classroom and I had parents in cars or waiting at bus stops. Remind101: Sent out a notice…“Lightening Dismissal. Buses at school until further notice. Parents must walk to classroom #___ 4 pick up.” 15 minutes later…students were able to get on bus. Remind101: Sent out notice…”Buses leaving school. Lightening Dismissal over.” Students got on buses and as they were leaving…BAM!… Remind101: “Lightening dismissal back on. Students on buses and have left school. Car and walk up parents must come to classroom #___ 4 pick up until further notice.”
So it was a crazy hour! After, I received so many “Thank you’s” by parents because they knew what was happening minute by minute, at a time they could not access the email notifications sent out by school wide Edline.
I researched Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress, and Facebook…. (I have a Google Site but it doesn’t have e-mail notification.)
With WordPress, I can update my blog, use it as a class website, and send e-mail notifications automatically (once I enter parent emails). I can do that with Blogger…but for WordPress, parents can receive the emails each time I update.
- WordPress vs. Blogger app (this was the key): If parents like, they can also set up the WordPress app to click and review as well – WordPress has a blog reader in the app – so there are no second parties.
- The Blogger app allows them to post to their own blog...but I didn’t see where they could ‘read’ the class blog – so they would either have to download an app like Bloglovin or another 2nd party app if they wanted to use an app interface. (If parents use the email, they don’t need the app.)
- I can also link Flickr to my WordPress and upload class pictures – which I would like to try to do more this year.
I am wondering about the WordPress option of placing a password to protect it…but my Edline site was open so I’m not sure there is a difference.
EduBlog has the WordPress platform…so I may take that route. I have to look into it a little more. The EduBlog platform may be more accessible from school computers. There was a time when we couldn’t access WordPress and Blogger from school computers, but I’m not sure that is the case now.
Breaking it down…
Alerts: Remind101 – simple, fast, text access.
Weekly homework, notices, assignments, file downloads: Edmodo – connects teacher, students, parents with the same planner!
A more in-depth, visual look on occasion: WordPress or EduBlog – email updates automatically by email and with a simple click!
I can use all these platforms well and they are quick and simple enough that they should save me time and increase home/school communication…helping me work towards Goal #18: Be more simple and efficient so I have a balanced life!
Some great sites I researched on family communication and parent engagement: