Innovation: Education

How to get students to communicate with families

Welcome to the Best Part of My Week

And yours, likely. Peoples Academy Middle Level educator Joe Speers shares how to get students to communicate with their families. He uses a technique called The Best Part of My Week.

Speers’ sixth grade students use the iOS Explain Everything app to record a short message to their families, talking about the best part of their week. Each message must include a selfie, a short text-based message and a voice recording. Then students store each message in their Google Drive. That way, families know where to go to get the latest updates from their students. But best of all, these messages can be included in the students’ PLPs. Short, personal, and emotional goalposts depicting what each student finds most satisfying about their lives as they grow and change.

how to get students to communicate with their families

While Peoples Academy uses the Explain Everything app, any digital app that can combine text, photo and audio can work. Shadow Puppet? Yup! iMovie or WeVideo? Why not! The tool’s almost immaterial, so long as students feel comfortable. The underlying principles here are mindfulness, reflection and repetition.

  • Mindfulness: It takes a steely resolve to carve ten minutes out of a busy school day for one specific activity.
  • Reflection: We know how much students benefit from reflecting on their learning. This is just applying that principle to their emotional selves as well.
  • Repetition: Every Friday. (Snow days notwithstanding.)

Joe previously showed us how his students use Corkulous to create vocab flashcards, and how he uses Google Drive to organize student work. Which is to say: he is rock n’ roll personified.

How do you get students to talk with their families?

Audrey Homan

Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by six dogs.

Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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