AoP Tech News March 2018

Tech News, Support, and Information for AoP Educators!

Tweeting, Texting, and Take-Home Folders - How Do You Communicate?

by Aaron Heintz, Technology Integration Coach PreK-12

The final two pillars of Doug Belshaw’s 8 Essential Pillars of Digital Literacy are Communicative and Creativity. As we explore the Communicative pillar this month, and the Creativity pillar next month, we will see a significant amount of overlap between these pillars and the previous ones that we have discussed over the past year. Want to catch up on the Digital Literacies series? Check out our archived newsletters here.

As teachers, we use many tools to communicate with students, parents and department members and our own friends. As discussed in January, when we looked at the Cultural pillar, each tool, app, and site has its own vocabulary, rules and community standards. There are a lot of communication tools available. As a teacher, I prefer to limit myself to one or two tools to avoid confusion. When choosing a communication tool, think about how you want to use it, and what will work best for you and your community. Simplicity and ease of use are key. When you decide on a tool or two, be sure to communicate how you want parents and students to use it. Consider providing an introductory handout for parents explaining any terms or lingo associated with it, and set “office hours”. How late is too late for a parent or student to reach out to you? How do you envision this tool being used? What will your anticipated response time be?

A few of my favorites:

  • Remind - Free, secure text messaging tool for teachers that stores all messages and keeps all parties’ phone numbers private. This is a great tool for older students, parents, coaches, clubs and teams and even faculty members. I used this for announcements, reminders and to communicate information in real time. This was also the tool I preferred students/parents to use if they had an immediate question or needed to reach me in an emergency. I loved the ability to set office hours. Remind eliminated the ever popular student excuse, “I didn’t understand how to do the homework, so I didn’t do it.” In short, Remind is perfect for short, more informal, time-sensitive communication.

  • Email - I used this strictly for communication with my admins, colleagues, and occasionally parents. I explicitly limited students use of email for submitting work to me. It caused a hassle for me to effectively manage, grade and store student work submitted in this manner. All student work was required to be submitted through - Google Classroom. As a reminder, only school-issued email addresses should be used when communicating with students or parents. Do not use personal email addresses for professional communication. In short, Email was for longer, more formal, non-time sensitive communication.

  • Google Classroom / Edmodo / Class website - This is where all assignments were posted, all homework was posted, general class announcements were made. It was also where all student work was submitted. My syllabus included a statement that explained that work submitted in any other manner would not be accepted without prior approval first. I wanted to guard against having to manage assignments submitted in multiple locations: Classroom, via Email and in paper form.

  • Twitter - This is how I communicate with my global/extended Professional Learning Network. In a sense, I view it as a customizable news feed for all my education friends.

Some others to check out:

  • Seesaw - Parent communication tool that is great for elementary classrooms.

  • ClassDojo - Similar to Seesaw, with the addition of Positive Behavior Supports

  • Slack - A communication tool loved by the business community. Perfect for large groups, spread across a large physical area. This tool is currently being piloted by the AOP PE dept. This tool should not be used to communicate with students or about student information as it is not COPPA / FERPA compliant.

  • Google Groups - A great message board tool perfect for clubs or announcements.

March Challenge: Check out the links above and then share with us on Twitter your favorite communication tool.

Leadership Feature: Mrs. Nancy Matteo, St. Andrew School Newtown

One of my dreams has always been to have an Honors ELA class at Saint Andrew Catholic School. I resolved to start one. After much thought, I determined that third grade was the best place to start. I love it.

Teaching Honors ELA is the highlight of my week. I teach twenty 3rd graders on Monday and Friday mornings from 8:25 to 9:15 a.m. The students were selected from standardized test scores, classroom achievement, and teacher recommendation. The lessons occur while the rest of the third graders are learning ELA. The Honors students are expected to catch up on everything that they missed. The class is more of a Humanities course since we use Religion, Math, Science, Social Studies, Technology, and ELA, of course. Naming the class was a bit more challenging. This group is now called LAUNCH: Language Arts UNites CHildren.

At our introductory session, we set the guidelines and the goals. The students want to trademark the name LAUNCH so that there will be no pretenders to the throne! They’ve enlisted the help of an attorney. We have since done an author study on Patricia Polacco. We’ve written letters to editors, Mayor Kenney, Governor Wolfe, President Trump and the president of the International Olympic Committee requesting Philadelphia as a site for future Summer Olympics. After all, we hosted the Pope two years ago and just had a marvelous Super Bowl parade. We have comparison shopped online for various books in an effort to appreciate libraries. As far as the LAUNCH team is concerned, the sky’s the limit!

AoP Tech Team

Bill Brannick, Director of Technology

Alissa DeVito, Associate Director of Educational Technology

Aaron Heintz, Technology Integration Coach

Annabel Dotzman, Technology Integration Coach