Clear communication with students and their parents is one of the primary goals of every teacher. Start this year with just that by using a variety of tools to share your plans and expectations for the coming academic year.
In past years I have used a number of these assets but I have not as clearly organized them as I have this year. For this year’s bunch I have gathered the most important items into one single web page of my classroom website, New Students 2013-2014. I’m hoping that by conveniently placing this information in one place my students and parents are more likely to use the provided references.
The following is a list of free online tools that I have incorporated (or plan to) for this year’s class. These websites were chosen for their ease of use and because they cost nothing!
I have embed a welcome board via Padlet for students to post their introductions. I’m hoping this will bring traffic back to the page as well as introduce my third graders to an easy to use educational technology tool.
Socrative is quickly becoming a force in the education world. Signing up about 1,000 new people a day, this free web tool lets you handle your classroom with a bit more ease. It’s a smart student response system perfect for any technology-integrated classroom!
It takes just minutes to create a poll and embed it on your website. I have found that polls create a lot of interest and return visits to the site. It can be used as a not so subtle tool to survey parent values and attitudes toward your classroom policies. Over the past few years I have used a variety of poll creators, but for right now my favorite is Polldaddy.
As part of Google Drive, Google Forms provide a free and easy way to gather information from your students and their parents. I have started the year with one to gather parent volunteer information and another for parents to share information with me about their child.
Fotobabble is a great tool for communicating simple policies and procedures. Simply scan a document or select an image and upload it to Fotobabble. Next, record an audio message that helps explain that aspect of your classroom. You can gather all of your Fotobabbles on a single page called, F.A.Q., as I have done on my website. A link from the New Student page directs the user to that page.
I’ll bet a lot of your already know about this great service. Remind101 is a free service that allows teachers to send out short text messages to the parents that opt in to their established group. It takes just minutes to set up and will be one of your most valuable communication tools for your classroom.
As the name implies, Screenr is a tool for creating screencasts. Screencasts are simply an online screen recording. Select the website that you want to describe, start Screenr, and begin recording your audio message as your tour the site. It’s a great way to create tutorials for websites that you plan to use regularly with your class. (ex. Accelerated Reader, Spelling City, and Math Fact Practice) Since you will most likely be expecting your students to work on sites like this at home, this is a great way for them and their parents to review your directions a second, or maybe even a third time.
Audioboo allows you to record messages to share on your website. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it gets your message to your people. I have used Audioboo in the past to create a weekly newscast with my students, but I can see its obvious applications to your New Student page.
Now, this might be overkill, but I don’t want anyone to every say that I didn’t share with them how to get a hold of me. Smore is a site where you can create colorful flyers for free. I have made one with all of my contact information. On the New Student, I have suggested for parents to print it and place it on their fridge for future reference.
You can visit my entire classroom website by starting here on our homepage, The Borgeson Bunch.
Temecula Valley Unified School District
Vintage Hills Elementary School