Thursday, October 23, 2014

Connected Educator Month

October is Connected Educator Month (#CEM) which, in essence, means you should be reaching out and connecting to other educators.  Within WUSD, we’ve have been making those connections:
Schoology ( – The Innovative Educators have been using Schoology to connect, share, collaborate, and create around the reading of Who Owns the Learning? by Alan November. They have been wonderful “students” and the online sharing and support that is taking place has been unbelievable.

The District Technology Advisory Committee (DTAC), the teachers who use Scholastic services on a daily basis (our Read 180, SDC, and RSP teachers), and our Principals and Assistant Principals have all started using Schoology to connect, communicate, and collaborate. 
Finally, we’ve had several training opportunities for teachers to attend and connect with each other and some new content. 

So, what can you do to become a more connected educator?  Start with thinking about how connected you would like to be – I recommend taking small steps: setting up a Twitter account and following colleagues, such as @WUSDEdTech and @maoliver17, and education leaders, join an organization (free) such as, or simply take some time to explore different blogs and follow one by having their articles delivered to your inbox. 

Greg Garner has a great article on Getting Smart where he focuses on 5 things to become a connected educator.  Greg explains what connecting is – learning, sharing, and mentoring, and what it is not – bragging – and the need to have a balance so that connecting does not consume your life. Take a look at Greg’s article “So You’re Already a Connected Educator … Now What?” and you might want to sign up to get updates from the Getting Smart website (I did!).

Check out “Ten Tips to Becoming a Connected Educator” from Elana Leoni at Edutopia (another great website to subscribe to).  She provides some practical steps as well as some great resources!

Upcoming training to connect with others and Google Apps or bring your tech needs to an open lab.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Digital Tools for Communicating with Parents

Tired of creating printed newsletters that you hope make it home in a backpack?  Looking for ways to connect in real time with parents and families? Try one of these three tech tools for connecting with parents.

Twitter (

Twitter can be very daunting for some to take the plunge, which is why I suggest you begin by just dipping in your toe and getting a feel for the water. Twitter is a great way to share updates and information immediately with classroom parents and families by sending out a tweet. In order for parents and families receive your tweet, they will need a Twitter account and will need to follow you on Twitter.  With Twitter, you can “protect” your tweets so that only those approved followers can see them, which is recommended when using Twitter for the purpose of communicating with parents. Take a moment to set up your Twitter account and send out your first tweet in 25 slides.  

Already on Twitter? Be sure to follow @WUSDEdTech for resources and updates in WUSD.  Check out these resources from the Spring 2014 workshop.

Remind (formerly Remind 101) (

Remind allows you to set up an account and have parents and families subscribe and receive updates and reminders via text or email.  The Remind tech tool is a push – meaning that information is pushed to those who subscribe and there is no way for subscribers to respond via this tool.  Creating an account is simple and free.  Once your account is set up, you will need to invite parents to either text a code to a phone number or go to a website to sign up.  You will never see the phone numbers or email addresses of your parents, and they will not see yours.  The Remind tool relies on parents “opting in” for updates and provides you with a document you can send home, tweet out, or link to your website to provide subscription information to parents.

Creating a Classroom Webpage

A classroom website is the easiest way to provide parents and families with one place to find information about what is happening in your classroom. If you already have a website using School Loop, you may want to take some time to refresh it, changing out old information, making sure your contact information is current, and perhaps adding in a calendar with assignments, projects, and due dates.  Feedback from parents and families has indicated that these are the top three needs that the classroom webpage can address.  

If you are new to creating a website and would like to try Google Sites or Weebly as the tool instead of School Loop, feel free to do so.  A template for WUSD teachers to use has been created for Google Sites to support the transition to Google Apps for Education (GAFE).  Tutorials and resources on using Google Sites, School Loop, and Weebly can be found on the Home-School Communication section of the WUSD Ed Tech Resources Hub.

Want some help learning more about these tech tools?  Be sure to sign up for one of the free Open Labs and receive individualized assistance.