Technology in the Classroom: Smore
At times, I have found myself complaining that parents and guardians do not take an active role in their students learning. While, at times, this may be true. I have to help get, or keep, them actively engaged. I have found that parents want to participate, help, and feel involved, but do not know where to start.
As teachers, we must be proactive with parents. We must communicate with them, and help them feel a part of their child's education. I understand that we know this is important, but then the year gets busy. We find ourselves covered up in conferences, trainings, meetings, and data collection/gathering. Unfortunately, we push parent communication to the back burner.
I encourage you to make parent communication a priority in your classroom. This does not mean that you have to email or call a parent daily. That sounds great, but honestly is not a realistic goal. Instead I focus on two things:
1. Classroom Twitter Page: Using Twitter as a classroom tool is not a new concept. So, I am not going to spend much time on it. Basically, create a classroom Twitter page for parents, and tweet out info about what you are doing.
2. Smore Newsletters: I learned about Smore while teaching with Georgia Virtual School in the summer. It is a fantastic way to communicate with parents and guardians. As Smore says, "Create beautiful newsletters in minutes." Their newsletters are easy to create, look awesome, and provide data on the number of interactions with your readers. So, for me, I use Smore on a monthly basis. I send parents a newsletter with updates about our class, and try to include a star student section as well. This simple interaction helps build trusts and support from parents and guardians. One simple interaction, that takes about 20 minutes a month, makes a huge difference in my classroom.
Smore provides a free trial that will help get your feet wet. They also offer a great yearly plan for teachers for only $79. The plan allows an unlimited number of newsletters, the ability to create private newsletters, and the ability to use your own backgrounds (Although Smore's backgrounds are already awesome).
Most of the blog posts so far have been focused on tech for your students, but this post is extremely important. Getting parents involved and engaged will have a dramatic impact for you and your students. Give Smore a shot, and let me know what you think. As always, thank you for reading. Have a great day!