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  • Tech Time: Tools for Parent Communication

    I grew up relying on dial-up internet and the extent of my technology experience was Oregon Trail and Solitare. Oh, how quickly things have changed! We can’t imagine life without our smartphones now. Technology is great, but at times it’s easy to be discouraged by the overwhelming amount of technology resources that are available. Nevertheless, I have been determined to jump into the raging technological river, and as a result I’ve been able to experience another level of teaching.

    Through my own experience, I learned that we have to have the right mindset when we use technology in the classroom. There must be a shift from “Check out this cool new app I found,” to “How can I use this technology to transform the learning happening in my classroom?” By using technology purposefully we can open a door to things that were unimaginable before – hence changing the classroom experience for teachers, students, and parents.

    As the teacher you cannot rely on technology to get the job done all on it’s own. You play a vital role in developing meaningful lessons that guide students to become responsible and knowledgeable digital citizens.

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    I was once told that “teachers must have good customer service.” Hearing this caused me to step back and think about how I was communicating with my student’s parents. Without always realizing it, the parent teacher relationship directly affects what type of attitude a student brings into the classroom. We are entrusted with the responsibility of educating someone’s child, so we must strive to build authentic connections with their parents.

    There are many helpful technology tools that allow teachers to connect to parents and maintain a positive line of communication throughout the school year. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

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    • Allows the teacher to send out messages to parents
    • Messages can include attachments (ex: classroom newsletters)
    • Parents can choose to receive email or text notifications
    • Translates messages to other languages with the click of a button
    • Can send out a group announcement or individual messages
    • Free
    • Website and app
    • https://www.remind.com/Logo-Black
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    • Mix of remind and edmodo
    • A facebook-esque portal where teachers can share class news, post updates, have parents sign up for conferences, and request volunteers
    • Parents can choose to receive every notification or a daily digest
    • Free
    • Website and app
    • New: student timelines a.k.a. digital portfolios 
    • https://www.bloomz.net/

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    • Student driven digital portfolio
    • Content can be added as a video, photo, voice recording, drawing or note
    • Only one device needed to implement
    • Teacher can comment on and evaluate student work
    • Parents can view their child’s portfolio and comment through the parent app
    • Free
    • Click here for a detailed overview
    • http://web.seesaw.me/

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    • Create newsletters and presentations
    • Free version
    • Paid educator version is $59 for the whole year
      • The Educator Hive: share and view what other educators have created on smore
      • Coming soon: ‘smore classroom’ where students can create their own flyers without having to login. Just think of the possibilities:
        • digital student created class newsletters that allow for videos , photos, and much more
        • a new way to complete reports insetad of PowerPoint or posters
    • https://www.smore.com
    • Check out our Mustard Seed Teaching flyer below

     

    As our world continues to shift towards relying more and more on technology, how are we keeping up in our own classroom practices? One day, every student will have access to an iPad or smart technology. Are we going to crash and burn trying to learn it all at once, or are we going to rise above it by being courageous enough to challenge ourselves now?

    We challenge you to incorporate one of these tools and let us know about your experience. If you already have a successful way of communicating with parents, tell us about it in the comments below.

    Be on the lookout for more posts on how you can use technology to enhance student’s learning.