Wednesday, November 2, 2016

5 Items To Add To Your Newsletters To Get Families To Read Them

Each Friday, at about noon, many teachers start thinking about that weekly newsletter that gets emailed or printed each week. We can only hope each family reads it but we know it can get lost in the pile of mail. Here are my top 5 things that encourage families to read each newsletter and increase their involvement.

1. Pictures, pictures, and more pictures! We live is a picture world, we want to see pictures of our kids! Have students help capture and choose the photos.

2. Questions, each week choose up to 5 questions for families to ask their children, we know kids get sick of hearing "what did you do at school today?" Try things like "What book did Mrs. Dahl read today? What was the setting of the book? Show me how you can count to 100. What sound does the letter t make? Questions like this will help families ask better questions. Try to have them match your objectives for each week, which may be helpful to share too!

3. Website/Apps students use in your classroom, let families know what websites and apps your students are using. f]Families ask me all the time about good apps or websites, if they know which ones you use at school they can engage with their children at home using these apps.

4.The 3'Cs, color, clipart and consistency. Be sure your newsletters are easy to read flow/layout. If you have the reoccurring information newsletter be sure to put new information at the top or in a consistent spot that way families know where to look for the more important information. Adding some color and clipart makes it more interesting and eye catching in the pile of papers each week. We wouldn't look forward to reading a magazine or newsletter article full of black type.

5.  Go digital! Share it via email/Remind message. or class blog. Be sure not to use a Word document because not all families have Microsoft programs. Save your newsletter as a PDF to allow easier viewing and still have active links. Other options include; BloomzS'more, Sway, Tackk, or Seesaw.

Here is another resource to help create newsletters using technology 3 Tech Tips for Parent Newsletters.

I have included 2 examples from my classroom.

Let me know your favorite thing to add to your newsletters that gets families to read your newsletter!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Seasaw: the #1 app/website for teachers

Are you using many different parent communication resources? Do your students have paper portfolios that may get overwhelming to manage and parents only get to see them during conferences?

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you need to check out Seesaw. Seesaw is a digital portfolio resource. The basic features that most teachers are using are FREE! Seesaw is available on the web and Android/Apple devices.

Seesaw empowers students to independently create their own digital portfolio. Students are able to capture videos, pictures, web links, drawings, and voice to reflect on their learning. Teachers can enable parents to join the class so they can see, and listen to their child's work. Parents can enable notifications on their device to get notifications when their child uploads work.

Here is a sample of a student's post.

Brayton is using Kindergarten Smarts Fall Number 10 Frames. I have used these in my classroom before and when I didn't have Seesaw I had to go around to each student and check their work and listen to them count. With Seesaw, I can have students video each other which will cut my assessment time in half AND I can share the artifact with parents quickly! It is a win-win! We all know we spend way too much time assessing student work, and parents want to see want their child does throughout the day! Think of all the ways this will save time in your classroom and empower students to show and reflect on their learning!

Capture video of students:
  • route counting 0-10 or 0-100.
  • roll a dice and tell me what number it is and then count up to 20 from there
  • read their sight words
  • read a fluency passage
  • retell a story

I love how this app opens up the communication between home and school. It gives parents a glimpse into their child's school day. It may also give parents ideas on how to support their child at home.

Many teachers are using this resource for all of their parent communication. I have even seen teachers create videos in place of their paper newsletters.

Want to get started today? Check out one of these tutorials!

How To Set Up Your Seesaw Class - Class Code Sign In (for younger students and/or those with no email fo Google sign-in)

Seesaw has many great resources that have already been created, here are just a few!

Seesaw offers a paid version as well, which allows teachers to assign skills and teachers can leave private comments. If you would like to test these features for 30 additional days scan this code (Android Users Settings -> Scan Code, iPhone Users Click on the QR code next to the Settings gear) after you have set up your course.

Thank for checking out Dahl's Dugout. Have a wonderful school year. I am excited to be Seesaw Ambassador so let me know if I can support you!