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Thursday, June 18, 2015

How to Get Your School Announcements to as Many People as Possible

I was recently introducing some teachers to blogging when one of them said, "but they don't even read our newsletter." She was right, most of the parents and students probably are not reading the newsletter that the school sends out. My suggestion was to create a blog. I made the suggestion knowing full well that many parents wouldn't visit it directly on a consistent basis. I suggested maintaining a blog because from it you can launch a variety of outreach strategies to connect with parents and students. My basic strategy for reaching parents and students is outlined below.

1. Maintain a blog.
Update your blog on a consistent schedule throughout the school year. You don't have to update it daily. Publishing a new post every Monday, Wednesday, and every Friday is sufficient. Monday's post could be a list of what's coming up during the week. Wednesday's post could be reminders about assignments. Friday's post could be a recap of the week.

2. Provide an email subscription option for updates.
Some parents will want updates emailed to them instead of having to visit your blog directly. Blogger offers a "follow by email" gadget that you can add to your blog. When parents use it they can subscribe to your blog through email. If you use WordPress for your blog, the Jetpack plug-in offers a free "follow by email" option. For more control over your email list, you can use paid services like FeedBlitz and Aweber to automatically email new blog posts.

3. Connect your blog to social media outlets. 
When you publish a new blog post, share it on your school/ classroom Twitter and Facebook. Services like If This Then That have recipes for automatically publishing your blog posts to Twitter and Facebook. FeedBlitz, the service I use for email, publishes my new blog posts to Twitter automatically. Tools like Hootsuite give you the option to schedule social media posts in advance. Use Hootsuite to Tweet and or Facebook your blog post once per day for parents and or students who might have missed it earlier in the week.

4. Instagram it. 
If you have a school/ classroom Instagram account that parents and students are following, post a screenshot of the latest blog post. Put the link to the blog post in your caption of the image.

5. Text it. 
Use Remind or Celly to send out the link to the new blog post.

Creating a system for getting your message out to parents and students will take you a little time to develop. Once you have a system down, you'll find that it doesn't take much time to create and send the updates. With a good system in place you'll be reaching parents and students where they are instead of hoping that they come to where you are.

I'll be covering this topic in much more depth along with many others in my July offering of Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders

How to Create Image Collages and More on Canva

Canva is one of my favorite tools for creating image collages, slides, social media graphics, and infographics. The lesson plan library that Canva offers is an excellent place to find ideas for using visuals in your classroom. The one complaint that I hear about Canva, I heard it this week during a workshop I was leading, is that there are some frustrating quirks to using it for the first time. I made the video that is embedded below to help teachers and students learn to use Canva and avoid some of the common mistakes made by first time users.

10+ Resources for Learning About the Math and Science of Sports

As regular readers of this blog know, I am a proponent of getting kids involved in physical activities like bicycling, skiing, and playing team sports. I also like to see connections made between students' interest in sports and lessons in the classroom. The resources below can all be used to create lessons connected to students' interests in sports.

The Science of NFL Football is a series of ten videos from NBC Learn explaining and demonstrating math and science concepts as they relate to football. The list of topics covered in the Science of NFL Football includes Torque & Center of Mass, Pythagorean Theorem, Geometric Shapes, Projectile Motion & Parabolas, Vectors, Kinematics, Nutrition, and Newton's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Laws of Motion. Every video in the Science of NFL Football is accompanied by a lesson plan appropriate for use in middle school classrooms.

In addition to the NFL Football lessons, NBC Learn offers lessons on golf, skiing, skating, swimming, and running.

If you have students who are interested in hockey, the following videos from Smarter Everyday could offer a good way to get students interested in thinking about the science of hockey.





Physics World offers three video lessons on the science of cycling, swimming, and running.

The Open University offers a playlist of video lessons about the science of bicycling. That playlist is embedded below.


Exploratorium has a little feature called the Science of Baseball. The Science of Baseball is a bit dated in its looks, but it still has some nice resources that can help students understand how a bit of science and mathematics is involved in the game. The Science of Baseball includes video and audio clips of baseball players and scientists explaining how the weather affects the flight of the ball, the physics of various pitches, and reaction times to thrown and batted baseballs.

ESPN's Sport Science has a handful of little resources about the science of baseball. One of those resources is Anatomy of a Pitch. In Anatomy of a Pitch seven pitchers from the Arizona Diamondbacks explain how they throw their signature pitches. Each explanation includes slow motion footage and the pitchers explaining the release points, finger positioning, leg uses, and rotations involved in each their pitches.

Two TED-Ed Lessons that I've recently featured are about Michael Jordan's hang time and the physics of kicking a soccer ball. Both videos are embedded below.



How to Embed TodaysMeet Rooms Into Your Blog

On Tuesday I shared my discovery about embedding TodaysMeet rooms into blogs. I've had a couple of people email me with questions about how to do that. In the video embedded below I provide a short overview of how to embed TodaysMeet rooms into blog posts.


Applications for Education
Embedding a TodaysMeet room into a blog post might be a way to avoid having to post the link to your TodaysMeet room in a public forum. Rather than giving out a TodaysMeet link you could simply direct students to the classroom blog that they are already familiar with visiting.