8 Ways to Share Information with Students and Parents
In previous posts, I have written about the importance of communication as well as ways to build student communication skills. Here is an early post of mine about communication and collaboration in the classroom. In this post, however, I discuss ways for teachers to provide students and parents with ways to access class information. This information may include due dates or class documents. This is important for a few reasons. It provides transparency for the classroom, and it cuts down on confusion. If students and parents are able to access due dates and class documents, then they are less likely to get confused about when something is due or what exactly is due. Rather than a student having to wait for an email response from a teacher about an assignment, they can access assignment sheets online to find an answer on their own in many cases. This post assumes you do not use an online course management system through your school already.
- Remind.com: This tool allows you to send messages via text messages to students and parents who sign up for the service. You can schedule messages for the future, attach files to messages, and send the same message to multiple classes. Messages can also be translated. I had doubts about this tool when I first heard of it. I wondered if students would really sign up to get messages from a teacher. They were really enthusiastic about it though. Another doubt was whether Remind would be useful to an elementary classroom, but it could be used as a line of communication to parents. One more recent update to Remind is that it now has a chat feature.
- Diigo: Diigo falls under the category of a digital bookmark. Resources can be added to a Diigo list for sharing. Class Diigo lists often consist of resources students can use for studying or research. However, since Google Docs and Slides are web-based; they could be added to a digital bookmarking tool like Diigo.
- Symbaloo: This is also a digital bookmarking tool, but it is different enough from other bookmarking tools that I decided to include it as its own resource here. The visuals of Symbaloo is laid out in tiles. Each bookmark is represented by a tile. Users can create and share boards organized by topic.
- Google Calendar: Calendars are great for posting due dates. Google Calendar is chosen specifically in this case for three reasons. Calendars can be shared or embedded in a website. Multiple calendars can be created so you can have a course for different courses. Notes and attachments can be added to entries for assignment descriptions or documents.
- Shared Drive Folder: Users can create Google Drive folder and share it with students in the class. Anything the teacher adds to the folder is automatically shared with everyone that has access to the folder. Here is a link to post about other uses for Google Drive: Maintaining Student Work Portfolios with Google Drive.
- Google Contacts Group: Schools that are signed up as Google Schools provide accounts for every student so emails and announcements can be sent to students. Documents can also be attached with this method.
- Google Groups: Google Groups is an asynchronous discussion tool. In other words, a person can post a question or announcement; and others can reply at a later time even if others have posted in the meantime. The format of a discussion forum helps maintain the form and flow of the discussion. Here is a link to a post about Student Discussion Questions and Asynchronous Discussions.
- Class Website: A class website can be used as a home base for many of the tools discussed in this post. On my class website, I have embedded a separate Google Calendar and a Remind.com widget for each class. Each class also has a resources page where I can link websites or Google Docs for students and parents to access.
How do you communicate with students and parents? Share your ideas in the comments below. Follow me on Twitter @JoshuaElliott3 for more tips and ideas.