At the CUE Rockstar TOSA Edition in early December I was part of a dynamic conversation about "how do teachers, coaches, principals, etc get their message out to their audience". We talked about using all types of tools from social media, email and of newsletters. This conversation continued by spilling over to various Voxer group chats and led me to really think about how and why I want to share out with my audience.
It's taken some time for me to finish this blog post, but here it is:
Newsletters. Yes those boring old publications that seem to have been around forever. What do they have to do with Ed Tech innovation and ideas? Well, in my role as a TOSA it has been one of the best tools to PUSH a message out to my audience in a consistent manner. I looked at different tools - many of which I am sharing below - picked one and stuck with a weekly regiment of sending them out every Friday.
In my newsletters I do several different things. First is the sharing of new ideas and innovations. Second is to spotlight teachers and others who are doing great things and third is to remind them to reach out to me with ideas, questions or comments.
It has been probably the most powerful tool that I have used all year to push ideas and open contact with myself and my teachers.
Now for regular classrooms teachers, the newsletter is a tool which has been used for years. Often this is a weekly email that is sent out to parents and that idea of constant communication should not change. I hope that teachers will look at some of these tools to see how they can possibly increase their engagement with their audiences.
Many teachers have used Padlet either with their students or at a conference. For those of you have have not used it before, Padlet is a free and easy to use application that enables users to create online bulletin boards where anyone can add notes, docs, files, and more.
When setting up a Padlet you have a few choices regarding customization like changing the layout. But the one customization I want to talk about is changing the wallpaper. When you click on the wallpaper choices they have preset ones like chalkboard, linen, blueprint, etc.
Here is an idea though, try making your own wallpaper in a graphic program (anything from Google Drawing to Photoshop) and then using it as a the background for a graphic organizer
Looking at the example below, you can see how I made a simple Venn Diagram comparing the two music genres Country and Hip Hop. (btw, these two are a great way to introduce your students to the comparison strategy. This can help students see that what seems like two items which appear totally different can be viewed with different perspectives to find similarities. Drop me a line if you would like to hear more about this great intro to comparison)
In this graphic organizer you can see that users know where to put their \notes and ideas on the Padlet. Plus since the diagram and terms Country & Hip Hop are part of the background, they can not be changed.