Five Back-to-School Tech Tips These are a bunch of ideas for taking care of all of the usual back-to-school parent communication without all of the paper!
1. Post a parent welcome letter on your class website. I usually send out both an e-mail and a paper letter invitation at the beginning of the year so to make sure that they know how to get there. I let them know that newsletters will be published on our class website and that lots of general information they may be curious about can also be found there.
2. Post a welcome letter to students on the class website. I used to send welcome postcards to students, but now I post a letter to them on our class website. Last year I also recorded a message with VOKI so that students can watch and listen to a cartoon version of their teacher welcoming them to school. I also post pictures of the classroom, so that they get a chance to get familiar with and feel less anxiety about their new school.
3. Put curriculum night information on the class website and use that night to show parents how to navigate the website. I like this idea better than printing out all of the documents, which both requires a lot of paper and which many parents will often lose and ask me about later. If it's on the website, they can access the information any time they want. This requires a good working class projector, however, which I hope to have by the time school starts!!!
4. Use Googledocs for Conference and Volunteer Sign Ups. I used to always print out paper versions of sign ups for both parent-teacher conferences and volunteering in the classroom. Last year I tried sign-up genius, which is a good online option, but requires lots of time to enter all the e-mail addresses and such. Google docs seems to be a more simple solution. I'm even thinking of having google docs sign ups open on the classroom computer on curriculum night and then keeping a link to them on the class website for parents who need to sign up later. Here are some screen shots...though the bottom part is cut off...
5. Use Survey Monkey at the beginning of the year to ask questions of parents and find out more information before the first day of school! It's a good alternative to the paper versions that I used to pass out on Curriculum Night. I usually ask about hopes/dreams, strengths, concerns, transportation information, nicknames, allergy information, etc... It's nice to have a chance to hear back from families before the first day of school!