Twitter
Another great solution to use is Twitter. Twitter can be used as a school handle (e.g. @myschool) or with a hashtag (#eng11c1) to send out information quickly and easily to engage a large audience. At my school we use Twitter to share accomplishments, to share photos at events like open house and to get a conversation going with the wider school community. A great example of what is possible with Twitter was shown by Jennifer Aaron, a kindergarten teacher from New York, who each day with the help of her students, sends a tweet summarizing what has been done that day in class. This way, when the students arrive home their parents can continue the discussion from that day. They can talk about dinosaurs or art projects with their child, without needing to guess what was covered in that day’s class. I have used Twitter with a hashtag to create a backchannel chat where students can be talking about their learning whilst it happens and then use a service such as If This Then That to collect responses to their tweets.

Google Apps for Education
I am a Google Apps for Education user and have recently started using Google Classroom with my students. By using the addon Doctopus from New Visions Cloud Lab along with the Goobric Chrome Extension, I can use a rubric to assess student work. One of my biggest challenges as a teacher was providing timely, constructive feedback. By using a rubric, I can show students what they have done, and what they need to do to improve. However, it’s the next step of placing a copy of the rubric into the document and sending an e-mail to the student with the rubric mark, your comments and a link to a sound recording, that make this amazing combination stand out.

Now we can put all of these bits together in a workflow:

  1. Assign a piece of work via Google Classroom
  2. Inform the students and parents about their assignment via Remind
  3. Students discuss the work using a Twitter backchannel chat
  4. Make comments on their work as they complete the assignment
  5. Assess it using Doctopus and Goobric
  6. Finally communicating any concerns with parents via Remind

This means that students, parents and teachers are all part of the discussion from the beginning to the end of the assignment, and the possibilities for further communication are open. And it ensures that students are involved and aware of their learning and, parents are also engaged.

Chris Webb is a high school math teacher at Lester B Pearson School Board in Montreal.