Lisa, while I'm not in the classroom anymore, several of the districts that I work with have gone to setting up a Facebook presence and using paid sites such as School Fusion. Several teacher friends of mine have used Google Sites or another wiki to upload papers, etc for parents. It's still a small minority, but it is growing.
good point about the online gradebook. in primary grades, we don't have to have grades input as quickly as you guys do in intermediate grades for parent access. while this takes some extra pressure off of us, i admire that you guys can handle it. it must be a great way for parents to stay current and react more proactively to how their students are doing.
First thing is to check with your District on what is permitted and what isn't. Then discuss with your Tech person how to work in what you want... public/private pages(wikis or groups in moodle/schoology), grades (moodle/schoology), ....
Some Districts have duplicate services, one website for Parent access and one for classroom activities. I think this redundancy for the teachers makes it hard to maintain.
I was recently introduced to Remind101 (an app) which permits one way communication on phones without releasing teacher/.students numbers.
Thank you, guys, for your comments. I still rely on email, on my class website, and on my class wiki for student digital artifact posting and parent/student commenting.
I have a good friend who uses Remind101, Stacey, and I've been interested in services like those, including, Scholastic's Class Messenger. I have yet to try something quite like that though. (But, my class did use Twitter one year a while back.) If there are any drawbacks that have especially to do with parents feeling uncomfortable with worries that maybe their phone numbers aren't safe from other entities, I'd appreciate knowing.
I was speaking with a former parent this morning about the importance of having various communication tools for families since different people have difference preferences (ex. Some parents just want a brief reminder via text, others want the long emails with lots of information, and some still want/need paper copies.).
To meet the needs of all of my parents, I have tried many things over the past years and some remain and others I have stopped doing based on my clientele.
This year I do the following:
1. I send out a "News from Ms. Shapiro" email every Friday. This is more lengthy where I go over the skills/activities we have worked on all week long so they can reinforce the skills at home, I have announcements, reminders, etc... They know to look for it each Friday morning. I made an email group via my school email so I can just send it to "Parents 2013-14" quickly.
2. Class website- I post my News from Ms Shapiro here each week as well as upload monthly calendars, photos, important information/schedules, wish lists, etc..
3. Google Docs- For sign ups for Fall and Spring conferences, class celebrations, field trips, and wish lists/items needed. I make a "tinyurl.com" link and cut and paste it into my letters home. I try to provide paper copy for sign ups, too, but the Google Docs have been very successful for me.
One thing that didn't work out for me was tweeting on a daily/weekly basis with my students. It was just too hard for me to keep up with and manage.
Next year I would like to implement Remind 101 so I can send out quick reminders such as "Library books are due tomorrow." I don't like to use my cell phone to call/text parents (I know many teacher do.) so this is a great way to text without sharing my personal phone number with them.
I would also like to create individual websites/pages/wikis for my students so that the parents can see on a more regular basis what we are working on. Now I will send links home individually to parents when their child completes a Glog, etc..
I have had wonderful feedback from parents that really appreciate all of the ways I communicate with them.
Great ways to communicate and satisfy all of the needs of your parents.I would like to add some techno thoughts and possibly create alternatives.
Many email providers give the option to send an email at a later date. If yours doesn't do this, consider using lettermelater. This way you can continually work on the email and it will be sent automatically at the end of the week.
Tinyurl.com is great in that you are able to modify the shortened URL to redirect to a specific page within the website (see tinyurl website). I have a tinyurl pointing to a multiurl.com site where a list is generated of all my related links. This is "one stop shopping". I posted some information on this in one of my threads. I also use goo.gl for a shortener, and then use it to make a qrcode. Codes are great to put on handout for additional resources and help.
For tweeting on a daily basis, consider a free service such as twuffer to write your tweets ahead of time and schedule posting times. This really helps during those busy times when you are getting ready for school and yet want to remind your students of something.
When you post new information, you can use applications that will send out emails or text messages to subscribers. Look at Hojoki and catchapp. Great way to get notified if something has changed on a site you are tracking.
Hope these tools helped. Have you used any of them? Do you prefer one over another?
Oh, Stacey, thank you so much! Your suggestions are SO helpful! You hit many things that I've been wanting to do. Lettermelater is exactly what I've been looking for. For example, I wanted to create reminders to send out to individual parents each week to remind them when it's their child's turn to bring snack. Reminders for parent conferences would help, too. I guess I would need to see what the parents' preferences are either text or email. If email, this is perfect. If text, I would do remind101.
I've been having issues creating tiny url's at school. It is now blocked at school so I have to create them at home. I will try and see if we have access to goo.gl.
Many URL shorteners are being blocked due to them being used to redirect to an inappropriate site. If they are blocked, consider using jogtheweb.com as a catalog of all of your sites. People can navigate through the "slides" (actual active webpages or documents).
Hope this helps. Do you know of other ways to "get around" filters? Obviously using your school blog or wiki is always suggested.