Monthly Archives: August 2014

How to Connect (Digitally) with Parents to Communicate Student Learning

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As the new school year quickly approaches, educators will need to determine how they would like to best communicate student learning with parents. Traditionally, teachers send out a letter the first day of school welcoming students into their classroom and listing out some of the items and goals for the school year. Throughout the year written letters or emails are sent as a form of keeping parents up to date on student learning. Schools will post monthly digital newsletters and sometimes include an entry ballot parents need to print off for a monthly draw.

With the emergence of social media and mobile learning (New Media Consortium, 2013), and more parents connected to others through tablets/Smartphones, teachers and administrators can consider the utilization of technology tools to stay connected with parents when informing them of student learning. Here are a few tools that could be used to communicate student learning with parents and families:

1) Online surveys/questionnaires

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2) Social Media

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3) Blogging

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4) QR codes

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 When deciding which tool is right for your school or classroom, you will need to:

Understand the demographics of your families: Although many families are connected online, not all families have access to technology. It will be important to know how families prefer to communicate or even providing parents with more than one method of accessing the message such as a Tweet through Twitter and a written agenda message.

Select a tool that communicates learning more effectively: Technology is not an optimal choice for all forms of communications, but can sometimes be a better choice. If teachers rely on email communication or agendas to send reminders about library books (as an example), then the Remind app or even a LMS (learning management system) can be a better option for communication. If the goal is to practice printing while having the student communicate reminders to parents, then written agendas are a better option.

Know your school board’s technology plan and policies: The tools on the list are examples of some of the ways teachers can better engage with parents, but some of these ways may have restricted access within the school board. Make sure you have permission to create and maintain a social media account and always share this site with your administrator. Keep your admin informed and be cautious when posting information online. Even though the intent is to keep parents up-to-date, specific information identifying your students or pictures posted without consent can be very problematic and unethical. When in doubt, leave it out or ask for a second opinion.

Sometimes it’s the little old-fashioned things that start the school year off with positivity and enthusiasm, such as the school postcard we received through mail welcoming us back to a new school year.

Here’s to another fabulous year of learning for both teachers and students alike!



New Media Consortium. (2013). Horizon Report, K-12. Retrieved from


You Don’t Need to be an Edtech Specialist

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In order to implement technology into education, you do not need to be a specialist in technology, but you do need to have an understanding of educational technology. This means that educators should understand how Web 2.0 tools can be applied to education, and how it can impact student learning, whether it be in a positive or negative manner. There is an inordinate amount of Web 2.0 tools available to learners, making it impossible for educators to be knowledgeable or even proficient with all of these tools. Understanding its purpose and social features is a good start for implementing a Web 2.0 tool. Determining it’s privacy restrictions will allow teachers to determine whether the tool is suitable for the age group they are instructing. From there time can tested prior to utilizing the tool for instruction. Teachers do not need to know all the features of the tool before implementing it with students. They may gain a basic understanding first and then learn as they go. Using the tool with students can be beneficial as students may already know how to use the tool from prior experiences or can figure out the tool’s use more quickly as all students would experience the tool a little differently than their teacher would.

Another important aspect of technology integration is for teachers to take risks by stepping out of their comfort zone and trying something new. They should be willing to make mistakes and not feel the need to be experts when working with technology. It is permitted to say “let me look into that” or “I’m not sure, let’s figure it out together.” My mantra has always been to try something new with my students every year. It may be the implementation of a new technology, it may be to refine our use of a familiar technology or even something non-tech related, but a different approach to learning and assessment. Regardless of the tool being selected, it is my aim to improve learning by taking risks and changing my teaching practice.

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What will you try differently this upcoming school year? Don’t be afraid to try something new 🙂