A week or so ago I had the great pleasure and opportunity to Skype with Alan November. I loved what he had to offer and his chat re-energized me. While chatting a question was asked about parent involvement / communication, and Mr. November had a few suggestions.
He stated that every household is guaranteed to have one piece of technology; a television and that burning DVDs is an optimal way to share what students are doing in the classroom. This is something I have done upon completing fairly big projects, like plays, but have never considered doing this for other routine classroom activities. Based on when I have done in this past, I can see how it would be a big hit with families. In the past when I have burned DVDs that demonstrated student learning families shared how their child ‘forced’ them to repeatedly watch it and brought it to every family function.
Another suggestion that I know has been discussed on Twitter and that I have considered is texting. Mr. November said that after TVs every household has at least one cell phone, and they have the capability to receive texts. Some things he suggested were:
- record the class celebrating a student’s success and text it to the parents
- take a picture of something the students did and text the photo
- take a video of a piece of learning and text it to parents
- send reminders and/or updates
I would add to have the students be responsible for the recording of any of these items.
l know that when I first heard about texting parents I had privacy concerns; I am pretty particular about giving out my cell phone number. But since then, I have come across Google Voice. If you have a GMail account you can access Google Voice. When you set up Google Voice Google will give you a phone number that you can use to place calls and/or send texts from your devices.
I have since used it and am pretty happy with the results. I use Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, and my website as means to keep parents up to date about what’s going on in the classroom, but I like what texting via Google Voice has to offer as well.
- I can take videos, pictures, or audio bites, or web links off of my smartphone and text them through Google Voice.
- I can send a web link of student work
- When I use GV Mobile + I can attach pictures and/or video as well
- I can send messages to multiple people in one shot
- My personal phone number is protected
Already in the short time I have used it I have been able to quickly get in touch with parents and they quickly respond back to me. When I attach a link to student work the parents go there and reply to the students about their learning. There is also excitement from the parents and students. More so than with Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, or the Website. My thinking on this is because it is me reaching out to the parents, to let them know what has been updated. They don’t have to take the time to check the other feeds to see if anything has changed. We are all busy, but if there is something I can do to free up family time for my students I am happy to do that. And Google Voice does just that.