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Students Keeping Connected to the Classroom Using EdTech Tools, Even at Comic-Con

When teachers can update parents on issues in the classroom and provide paperwork backups quickly and easily, everyone is happy and class runs more smoothly. Some parents need to update their teachers when their children are out due to illness and some need to check in when they are going on their own "field trips."

Linda Marchesini of Wayne, NJ is a former kindergarten teacher and PTO president. She has children in grades 9 and 11. Marchesini and her boys attended New York Comic-Con recently, an event that spanned four days. Thanks to technology integrated in Wayne’s public school systems, her and her children could go to the convention at ease without hers high school students missing any of their work. 

“Their teachers were able to send them their assignments that they missed on the day of school that they were out on Friday,” said Marchesini, noting earlier that they couldn’t make the first day of the convention on Thursday. 

She said that helped develop the app during the testing process, in which she provided insight as both an educator and parent. 

“Wayne schools has an app that you can have on your phone where you can check your kids’ homework assignments and you can check their grades. The teachers post up-to-date, so you can within a day if they did [poorly] on the test or they did [well] on the test. So you can check that out and it’s very convenient, "Marchesini, going on to say that the app applies to desktop use as well. 

A new tool called Let's Talk lets educators connect by providing content to students, parents, and other educators via customizable application settings that organize conversations based on subject matter and resources. 

“Information is invaluable,” said Natick, MA Superintendent Peter Sanchioni.

The tool has been implemented in Natick, MA, and comments from users can even come in anonymously reports the MetroWest Daily News. This includes homework assignments. Other districts build their own tools, such as integrated mobile and desktop applications. 

In both cases, parents can correspond with educators over the apps, and provide feedback on what’s successful. 

“You feel guilty about the kids missing school, but it is a long weekend, so they wouldn’t get the work in to their teachers until Tuesday when they returned, but now they got it before, so they can get their assignments done before school starts on Tuesday, and hand it all in digitally before school even starts,” said Marchesini with enthusiasm. 

Sanchioni said school officials in other districts using Let’s Talk have given it rave reviews. He said Natick is also taking other steps to improve communication, including enhancing newsletters.

“This is another place to try to get people’s attention,” Assistant Superintendent Anna Nolin said.

Other communication tools, such as Edsby, offer district-wide learning management systems at a cost to connect parents and students with educators, while free options like YAMM, a Google Sheets add-on, brings together spreadsheets with personal messages for free, an option for grading and projects that can be helpful to students and their parents. Some tools, such as SchoolNotes*, provide virtual environments for free, and at premium levels. SchoolNotes lets educators provide classroom and school information  to families in one central location via their browser. 


*SchoolNotes is part of The Educator's Network along with Education World.


Article by Jason Papallo, Education World Social Media Editor
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Copyright © 2015 Education World

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