Everyone who knows me, knows my love for technology and for the ways in which I can use it to grow my teaching and the learning of my students. I’m consistently seeking out new ways and ideas to integrate tech into not only my classroom lessons but my own life.
As our world becomes more and more connected through the use of technology, communication has never been easier. However at the start of this year I was still grappling with how to best reach the families of my students with updates on the learning in our room. Not everyone has access to the internet at home, not all are savvy with latest technologies and most are extremely busy and on the go. Written newsletters was one way, but have been very time consuming and I couldn’t be sure many received them as I would find them crumpled at the bottom of student backpacks from time to time. What I was doing was just not effective and I was determined to find something that would work for everyone.
My class has a very active Twitter account @gr34bears but the reality is that only a very small amount of parents are currently using Twitter and while a lot more joined since our class account grew, I knew I still wasn’t reaching the majority. I decided that maybe a website with daily updates would be a good place to start and so I created one. However, I quickly realized that no one was checking it and that it just wasn’t the most effective way to reach my group of parents. The website came to slow halt and I was back to lengthy newsletters.
Then one day, while I was using Storify to archive the tweets of cdnedchat that I moderate on Monday nights, an idea came to me. Why am I not archiving our classroom tweets with Storify and sending them to parents? I can easily create a Storify of our daily events and then even those parents who aren’t on Twitter could read about our daily happenings. My thoughts and excitement quickly grew when I realized not only could I do this, but I could also distribute the Storify link to parents using Remind101.
I had introduced Remind101 to the families of my students at the beginning of the year and the response was overwhelmingly positive. The parents of my students loved receiving immediate reminders to their cellphones and I even have a few of my grade four students registered on their phones and e-mail addresses to receive.
The trial began and I started to Storify our daily tweets and send parents the link via Remind101. Students were now coming to me in the morning and telling me about the conversations they were having with their parents the night before about some of our tweets. I was elated! Conversations were happening about their learning at home and then were being brought back to me the next day.
My goal was to generate these conversations and to open our doors wider to parents and families in a fast and easy way for all. I now Storify daily and send to parents. Students are even more keen to participate and share their learning as they know their parents are receiving it and are an engaged part of our classroom. I haven’t fully given up the newsletter as it still plays its own unique role, but being able to communicate and share daily with parents our learning has made that newsletter much less cumbersome and all encompassing. Parents now know what their children are learning about everyday and they are receiving this information right in the palm of their hands.
My passion for effective use and integration of technology drives me to continually try new things; some of which work and some of which don’t. I use the lessons learned from the things that didn’t work to try and find something that does. A class website and lengthy newsletters were just not working for us but this lead me to one of the most important things I’ve learned so far this year which is: to always meet others where they are at in their technology journey, not to speed ahead and not to lag behind, but to meet in the middle together.