I love having visitors in my classroom. Why? Because then they can see the story of the classroom. They can see the learning that is taking place and the joy that comes with it.
For YEARS, I tried to share my reflections via newsletter. You know. The 2 page document (front and back thankyouverymuch) that was outlining Everything we were doing and what was coming up. Embarrassingly, I would become indignant if someone would miss information that was in my newsletter. (With age comes some wisdom. I'm so sorry!)
And then I became the Mama of 2 students in school. And I couldn't keep up with the reading of the newsletters and the managing of what was in them and the managing of my own school work. (If you do this well, I want you to know that you have a special gift.)
And I wanted to apologize to every parent ever that I made read these Long, Long, Long-ie, Long, Long newsletters. I'm just so sorry.
But the story still needed to be told. Parents still needed a window into their child's classroom.
Enter Google Photos. At an EdTech Conference a couple of years ago, I sat in on a session on Google Photos. And my mind was blown wide open. It was so easy to make albums and share the links. I immediately went back to school and started to explore with it.
It has changed how I communicate with parents. They can see what we are doing each day in class. It documents some learning that may not be documented with paper and pencil. Often it is in Science, Social Studies, or during another Workshop time. Parents have given me the feedback that it opens up conversation at home. Instead of hearing "Nothing" when asked what happened at school, parents can use a picture to start a conversation about the classroom. And this is what I want for them. A peek into the story of their child each day.
A quick "How To":
1. If you have a Google Account, you already have access to Google photos. I also have the
Google photos app downloaded on my Apple products. When the app is open, it will back up the photos you take to your Google Drive and store them in Google Photos. Yep. Just like that.
See the icon on the bottom right? That is my Google Photos app.
2. Once they are in Google Photos, I like to organize them into Albums each week. To organize an album, click on the drop down menu in the app to determine what you want to create. You can see there are several options.
After you select your photos, you can name the album. Then you can share the link with the people you want to. If you look at this link, you can see a bit of my spring break story. This link will show you the album.
3. I also love the collage feature for conference time. I make a collage each month for each student and print it off. I keep it in their portfolio as documentation of their days in first grade. Here's an example of a collage, using my dog: (Imagine he's a student. Can you see his story here?)
If I printed this off, it would be on 1 8x11 piece of paper.
When I communicate now, there is always a link to pictures each week. Parents know this is coming, and they know if they don't feel like they are getting the whole story they can Always ask me. I also communicate important dates, and any quick announcements we might have as a class. There is still information to read, there always is. I have learned to be so discerning in what I'm asking my parents to spend time reading.
What are some ways that you share your classroom story?