By Teachers, For Teachers
Technology has conditioned the modern user to expect answers faster than ever before. Movie times, restaurant menus, and playoff schedules are a Google away. When it comes to what’s happening at school, can we say the same thing yet? Why or why not?
We researched the communication features and technology in the classroom strategies that have proven most effective for keeping schools connected and better able to share information. This includes school-wide announcements, classroom exchanges about assignments, or places for teachers to share new ideas.
After a year of tracking user requests, the Chalkup support team identified a handful of messaging and communication features as the most requested from students and teachers. Peer-to-peer and student-to-teacher messaging functions were at the top of the list.
This signals to us that classes want to talk to each other. Systems built to assign and grade work that don’t make room for discussion miss a huge opportunity to connect students.
Going a step further is school-wide messaging. Same idea, larger scale. Perhaps this is an e-mail list or a specialized group within a more-advanced messaging system. Admins and teachers should have an uncomplicated way to get in touch with one another, students, a single parent, or all parents, as needed.
Regardless of your system, we can’t stress enough that your communication system should be easy to use, and you should find ways to limit the total number of accounts/websites/portals used to share information. Wherever possible, link or eliminate accounts and streamline communication processes into the same platform.
Extra pro tip: Look for opportunities to spread positivity within your school-wide system. No one wants their name associated with bad news. See if a newsletter or bi-weekly message would work as an opportunity to highlight successes or call out community members who are doing amazing things.
For K-12 schools, parents are a big part of your school ecosystem. We’re often asked about what our parent access is like in Chalkup, as well as what the right balance of access looks like. Parents can sign up for an account and they will be connected to their student’s classes. In this role, they’ll be able to see what’s happening and get updates on assigned work.
This means mom and dad will know when tests are happening and how many hours of homework their child has. They’ll also know what assignments have been pushed out and whether or not their student has turned their homework in. The idea is that a parent cannot control the student’s account in any way or contribute to student work, but they can have a bird’s-eye view of what’s going on in their child's classroom.
We’ve heard from our users that teacher professional development is highly sought after when it comes to new classroom technology. One of our favorite stories from Chalkup comes from a group of teachers who set up a professional development space in our platform.
Teachers from across the school were invited to a digital course; that space now serves as an area to discuss new teaching tips and classroom ideas between instructors. It also includes lots of discussion about how instructors are using Chalkup in their classroom.
Case in point: teachers need (and want) a place to connect. E-mail can only take you so far. Look for flexible, innovative features like discussion spaces and resource libraries that allow for an exchange of ideas and continued professional development.
This one is a little different. Go with us here. When your whole school is hooked up to a communication system, you’re suddenly positioned to identify patterns related to how many messages are being sent, how many assignments are getting pushed out, or perhaps how many hours of homework your students have each night.
These analytics can be used to connect with teachers and parents to support what’s happening in classrooms. We’re not talking about invading privacy and reading individual messages; we’re talking about identifying patterns in data.
For example: Analytics could allow an administrator to see if certain teachers were assigning far more homework than others. They could see how many assignments have gone out over a given period of time and what percentage of students were turning the assignments in. Similarly, they could see what percent of the work was graded.
What if turn-in rates were low and 90 percent of the work was being graded? What’s going on there and what does it tell us? Is this a unique opportunity for an administrator to help get everyone on the same page so student workloads remain challenging, but more evenly spread out?
For more tips and tricks, check out our latest resource, The Handbook for Building Connected Schools.
Chalkup is a class collaboration platform that keeps classes connected, organized, and equipped to learn more. Read more on their blog.