Just as interactive white boards and iPads are changing how you interact with students, online applications enhance (and increase!) parent engagement in the classroom. Here are top apps and tech solutions that are trending in the classroom and helping get more parents involved:
- Skype: Skype for computer, smart phones and tablets lets parents join in classroom events like story time and special presentations without having to be physically present. Even military parents overseas and grandparents who live far away are taking advantage of the Skype platform to read to students and participate in celebrations. Creative teachers ask students to find the parent’s/grandparent’s location on a map and ask a few questions to learn about the local geography, landmarks and culture. >Skype can also be helpful as a way for working parents to attend parent-teacher conferences.
- Twitter: Whether it is class homework updates, project deadlines, school news or dinnertime conversation starters, teachers are taking advantage of Twitter’s free tool and keeping parents up to date and involved in classroom happenings. In a day-in-age where most parents have cell phones, Fast Follow by Twitter becomes a simple and reliable alert system. To use it, all you need to do is setup a Twitter account and ask parents (and older students) to text Twitter’s shortcode of 40404 with the message “follow [your Twitter username].” From there, parents will start receiving all of your updates via text message in real-time.
- VolunteerSpot: Get more parents involved in the classroom by streamlining how you ask for help and making it easier for parents to sign up to help. VolunteerSpot replaces paper signup sheets, reply-all email chains and backpack Pony Express. Simple online signups from smartphones, tablets or computers make it easy for class parents to choose a spot that fits their schedule or to send food or supplies for special events; auto reminders and calendar syncing help parents keep their commitments. Quickly organize parents to read to the class, help in the lunchroom or at recess, attend parent-teacher conferences, and help with class parties, field trips and performances.
- Pinterest: A virtual vision board for classroom inspiration, Pinterest offers a great way for teachers and parents to build community and share ideas. Invite class parents to create and share pinboards with links to age-appropriate themes and ideas including educational boards like fun math apps, favorite books, vocabulary games, and science fair ideas – student-centric boards like recess games, scholarships and prom fashions – and boards geared towards parents such as healthy snack and lunch ideas, afterschool sports resources, and class party ideas.
- Edublogs: A free, safe blogging platform for teachers, students and school communities, Edublogs lets you easily create and manage student and classroom blogs that keep parents up-to-date on class happenings and give students a safe portfolio for sharing their work with parents and extended family (via password-protected blogs). Post a few times a week adding videos, photos, links to volunteer signup sheets and educational resources – parents will enjoy your current content and feel more informed and connected to the classroom.
Organize parents and volunteers with free online sign up sheets from VolunteerSpot! We save teachers hundreds of hours by simplifying the task of signing up, scheduling, and reminding parents – reducing your busy work and leaving you more time to focus on what’s important. Take a tour today