Monday, March 11, 2013

Twitter, Website, notes online, or just phone calls... Choices galore...

A large goal of education (and our school) is communication with parents.  But with social media galore out there, which one is best?  I've written previously in regards to which tool is best for e-portfolios, but not for the topic above.  And there is a difference.  When considering communication with students many have Twitter accounts, tweet often, can text message with two fingers without breaking a nail, but are parents this adept?  Some of my parents don't have an email address so why would I expect them to have a twitter account for them to follow?  On the other side of the coin is most parents have a phone and receiving tweets is easier than receiving emails.  One thing that is true though is that most parents do have the Internet, at home or on their phone, so it's a matter of getting the information out to them over a website.

There are a number of websites that are made for the is task: Check my Marks,  School Logics, or Student Achieve are but a few of the online marking programs that parents can log into.  All have negative and positive features to them, each range in price.  As a parent they want to see the marks and what their child did not complete.  But as a teacher I want students to see more.  I want parents to see exemplars of their child's work.  I want them to help me with late or missing assignments.  I want parents to understand if their child is doing well in their learning learning process or need assistance from both home and school.  Mostly I want to be able to communicate with parents at a drop of a hat.  So what do I use?  

I need a website with all the child's notes and assessment strategies in it, so if the student is sick the student and parent(s) can continue to learn at home and the parent can understand what skills I am trying to teach/train their child.  I need a marking system that emails parents the child's current standings, which also includes a section for work incomplete, work not handed in, and also something that shows sick days to the parent.  I want to send out a group email to both parents and students informing them of something happening in my classroom.  The markings system MasterGrade handles most of these situations:  emailing marks to students and parents, doing group messaging, attendance and notes under each assignment outlining assessment.  

I want a calendar of deadlines of tasks/projects for parents/students to track to help with ensuring students  develop time-management skills.  Presently I use IDoneThis (, a Web 2.0 tool that emails me, asking what I’ve done for the day, reminding me to update my calendar and help me planning my teaching schedule.  It’s well organized, easy to use, but it does cost.   
Finally I require a system where at a glance I can assess the students' work/portfolios, with an area to comment and to suggest changes or possibly areas of consideration to think about, for further the students knowledge. has this capability with the student blog creation.  Student can upload pictures, files, and write their thoughts of what they've learned, and what they want to further their education.  Best of all, as a teacher I appreciate that all blogs are listed in one section, no need to organize, just a click of the link of the student's name and you're on their blog.  Each blog entry is dated, in order, so you can gasp at a glance what has been completed and what  needs to be developed further.  Both peers and the teacher can comment on the students' portfolios, furthering their learning.  

I want and need many features, but it takes three programs to appease my needs for my students, parents and myself as the teacher.

Take a look at these tools and consider what you would like to use.  

Nicole Painchaud @painchaud_n

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