How To Communicate With Your Students Outside The Classroom
by Rachelle Dene Poth
How do you communicate with your students? In class, of course. Face to face, workshopping, watching them communicate with one another and popping in to support or challenge them.
But what about outside of the classroom? Here are five ideas for establishing connections and methods for students to have access to resources and help when they need it.
Some of these are also ways in which parents can keep informed about their child’s progress and what they are doing in your class. By using some of these ideas, you will integrate technology into your classroom and this will enable students to build the vital technology skills and be empowered in their learning.
5 Ways To Communicate With Your Students Outside The Classroom
Try out a messaging tool
One of the easiest ways to establish a channel of communication with students and parents is through one of the messaging apps available. Educators can quickly send messages, share information and images and more. There are a lot of options available and your choices will depend on the level and area you teach and whether your goal is to set up communication between students and you or with parents.
Out of the various options available, I have used Celly, Bloomz and Remind. Each of these offers ways to send messages, share files and images, provide live feedback and more. It is easy to sign up for any of these using any device, and privacy and security are provided. I have found that by simply using a messaging tool, it can also be a way to meet other classroom needs such as collaboration and creation.
A class website or LMS
By creating or setting up a digital learning space through a website or an LMS, you can share resources, post assignments, celebrate student success and classroom events, and be available for student questions anytime.
The information can be updated regularly and you can include a way for parents to contact you or for students to get help when they need. It can be a collaborative learning space whether it be a tool like Edmodo, Schoology, a Google site or even through Wikispaces. Any of these options would help to create a connection between you, the students, and their learning.
Create a virtual wall
Try Padlet. There are so many uses for Padlet, it seems I keep finding different ways to use it in the classroom. Some of the ideas have been my own, while a few have been through the creative suggestions of students. I recall student ideas for using Padlet, which at first seemed like they would not work out but the students gave it a go anyway.
The result was we found some innovative ways to use Padlet for their work. Some different and innovative ways to use Padlet are that it could be used as a way to post the daily class updates, if you create your post to be positioned in a grid so with each new post they would be chronologically listed.
Or you could set them as a free-form and each day post and arrange on the Padlet, to represent what was done in class, and add links to resources as needed. You can post photos and videos and much more. You can even link separate Padlets to your main site where you can display student work for parents to see. There are a lot of uses for it and this is just one of the ways that could open up some communication and add more organization in the classroom.
Infographics are used for sharing information and have been used on social media, for flyers, presentations and more. There are other uses, which can be considered non-traditional but that can really add to the learning experience. Sharing information and including ways for students or parents to contact you can also be done through the creation of an infographic. There are many options available, some of the most common used in my classroom are: Piktochart, Visme and Canva.
As the teacher, you can create a class newsletter, have a link available to your infographic and as needed change the information. It can be updated regularly and new information added. It will also be a way to introduce the concept of infographics to your students, if you haven’t used them in class.
If you have been looking for a reason to start writing a blog, but were unsure of what to write about, then this could be a good way to take that first step. Setting up your own blog site for classroom use, would be a good way to share updates in the form of blog posts, with students and families. By sharing the link to your blog, students and parents can sign up for the update notifications and stay informed throughout the year.
It could also be a way to include samples of student work, photos of class events, resources for class and more. It can be used in addition to a class website where you create spaces for storing all class information, a calendar, contact information and more. Sharing daily updates and news through a blog can be another quick way to open up the channels of communication with students and families.
Some choices for blogging platforms are: Easyblog, Kidblog, Edublogs, Blogger, SeeSaw, WordPress, and Weebly. Each of these offers different options for settings, sharing, choices in layouts. Depending on the level you teach, you want to be sure to check the guidelines, as a few of these are intended for students age 13 and over (WordPress and Blogger, unless used in GAFE) and also may have some subscription charges or need an upgrade to manage student blogs.
These are just a few ideas for opening up communication with your students and parents, however each of these options are good for many other uses such as assessments, collaboration, projects and more. If you want to find new ways to use some digital tools in your classroom, try asking the students. They have some creative ideas and will feel valued in your classroom and have a more meaningful learning experience.
5 Ways To Communicate With Your Students Outside The Classroom; image attribution flickr user vexrobotics