Showing posts with label Parent Teacher Conferences. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parent Teacher Conferences. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Calendly - Conveniently Schedule Meetings Through Google Calendar

Last week I shared directions for creating and scheduling appointment slots in Google Calendar. Today, I discovered a tool that makes it easier to create appointment slots in Google Calendar. Calendly integrates with your Google Calendar and makes it easy to create appointment slots with just a click or two. More importantly, people who want to schedule an appointment with you just have to click a time on your calendar and enter their names in order to reserve an appointment. Visitors do not have to have a Google Account to view or enter information into an appointment slot. Visitors who make appointments with you through Calendly can sync the appointment to their own Google Calendars, iCal, or Outlook calendars.

Applications for Education
Calendly could be a great tool to use to schedule parent conferences. I like that appointments will sync with non-Google calendars as that makes it accessible to parents who are dedicated iCal or Outlook users.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Use the Remind 101 iPhone App to Keep Students and Parents Informed

I'm about a week late on this but it's still worth sharing the news that Remind 101 has released a free iPhone app. Remind 101 is a service for sending text messages to groups of students and their parents. The service is an opt-in service which means that students and parents have to enter a confirmation code to state that they do want to be contacted by you through the service. Remind 101 keeps phone numbers hidden so that the parties cannot see each other's numbers. Learn more about Remind 101 in the video below.

Applications for Education
The Remind 101 iPhone app could be a good tool to use to keep students and parents informed of important information about your classes. You could use it to send reminders about assignments, use it to send encouragement, or use it to send praise for a job well done on an assignment.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Home to School Connection Guide from Edutopia

Edutopia recently released a new, free PDF guide to improving communication between schools and parents. Edutopia's Home-to-School Connections Guide features ten ideas that you can implement right away to improve your communications with parents. Some of the ideas included are using Facebook to connect, using Google Voice, and building partnerships with parents. Readers of this blog may recognize Larry Ferlazzo's name in the section about building partnerships with parents. Overall, Edutopia's Home-to-School Connections Guide offers good practical advice for improving communications between schools and parents.

Monday, September 20, 2010

YouCanBook.Me - Appointment Booking in Google Calendar

YouCanBook.Me is a free scheduling tool that integrates with your Google Calendar. YouCanBook.Me allows people to book fixed blocks of time in your calendar. You specify the length of each block of time and the dates and times you are available. Visitors to your calendar click a block and enter their email addresses to reserve a block of your time. When a block of time is reserved you receive an email alert. Watch the video here to see a demonstration of YouCanBook.Me.

Thanks to Angela Maiers for sharing this on Twitter.

Applications for Education
YouCanBook.Me could be a great tool when it comes time to schedule parent-teacher conferences. Post your YouCanBook.Me calendar on your classroom blog to let parents schedule meetings at a time that is convenient for all parties involved.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Google Voice Opens to Everyone in the US

Today, Google announced that they are making their free Google Voice service available to everyone in the US. Google Voice provides you with a phone number that can ring all of your landline and mobile phones simultaneously. Google Voice also offers a slew of other features that you might find handy. I think the free conference call service could be very handy for conducting parent-teacher conferences over the phone.

Learn more about Google Voice in the video below.

Learn about the free conference calling feature of Google Voice in the video below.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Parentella - Community for Teachers and Parents

Parentella is a platform designed for the purpose of facilitating online communication between teachers and parents. Teachers can register for a free account, create a classroom, and begin posting notices for parents to read. Parents can use Parentella to keep current on news from school and to communicate with other parents.

Applications for Education
Parentella is a good option for creating an online communication hub between teachers and parents.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
My Brochure Maker - Create a Mailer
Build Your Own Browser Toolbar
Tatango - Free Group Text and Voice Messaging

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Build Your Own Browser Toolbar

Yesterday, I put together a custom browser toolbar for Free Technology for Teachers. The toolbar includes a search box and drop-down menus where you can find links to presentation tools and alternatives to YouTube. The toolbar also allows for instant access to the most recent posts from Free Technology for Teachers. And the final component is a chat room for readers of Free Technology for Teachers. You can download and install the toolbar here, it works in Firefox, Safari, and IE. I'm still working on adding more options to the drop-down menus, but those updates will automatically be pushed out so that you won't have to re-install anything.

Here's a look at what the Free Technology for Teachers toolbar offers.

Building the toolbar was actually much easier than I thought it would be. I started with a simple Google search for "building a browser toolbar" and one of the first results linked to Conduit. Conduit is essentially a drag and drop toolbar builder. To make a toolbar for your own website signup for Conduit (it's free), enter some basic information about your site, and begin selecting the components you want in your toolbar. Once you've selected the elements you want, you can edit what each element contains.

Applications for Education
Conduit makes it fairly easy to create your own custom browser toolbar for your students and parents to use. A custom toolbar could be a great thing to install on the computers your students use at school. Your toolbar could include links to websites that your students will need to use frequently. Your toolbar could also include an RSS element for students and parents to quickly access the latest news from your school's website. A chat element in your toolbar will give your students a way to quickly get in touch with you.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Facebook for Parents

When my school district discussed banning the use of all social networks it, like many other districts, was reacting to fear of "what could happen" if students use social networking sites. Rather than preventing access, the better solution is to educate parents, teachers, and administrators about the potentially good uses of social networking sites. The other part of the solution to the "what could happen" dilemma is to educate students about responsible online behavior.

Facebook for Parents is an online education program for parents to learn about Facebook including tips on making sure their children are practicing responsible online citizenship. The homepage of Facebook for Parents offers five tips for parents just beginning to learn about Facebook. Facebook for Parents has a free email newsletter for parents to keep up to date on the latest research and best practices for keeping kids safe online.

Applications for Education
Facebook for Parents is going to be added to the list of resources that I give to parents concerned about their child's Internet use. Every year I have parents express concern that their child knows more about the Internet than they do. Facebook for Parents might not make parents more knowledgeable about the Internet than their children, but it will help to close the knowledge gap.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Safe Computing Tools for Kids - Windows Based

Today's episode of Tekzilla has a couple of short tips that every parent should know about monitoring the computing habits of their children. These tips apply to Windows Vista.

Applications for Education
In my school district a new semester is starting and soon we will be holding our parent-teacher conferences again. Invariably, every time I hold parent-teacher conferences at least one parent expresses concern about not knowing how to monitor what their child is doing online. This video gives some quick tips that I will share with those concerned parents, provided they have Windows based computers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cartoon Demonstrating Why Every Teacher Needs a Blog

Here is a short cartoon I sketched to demonstrate the benefits of having a blog for your class.

If you're viewing this in an RSS reader the slide show might not be displayed properly. Please click the post's title to view the slide show.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Increasing Teacher-Parent Communication. Part III: Widgets and More

In the first two parts of this three part series about increasing teacher-parent communication we looked at creating blogs and websites as a means of sharing information with parents. In this segment we will look at how to make those blogs and websites better through file hosting services and content creation widgets.

Using a file hosting service and linking to it or integrating it into your blog or website is a great way to make large files available online. These files could be large documents like school or classroom policies or a video or an audio recording. Speaking of audio files one file hosting service, Dropio, makes it very easy to create audio files using your telephone.

Adding a content widget from a third party is an easy way to add interesting information to your class blog or website. Many popular websites like CNN, Reuters, and Digg provide free content widgets. Some widgets like Digg's allow you customize the type of content delivered and displayed on your website. If you scroll to the bottom of the front page of Free Technology For Teachers you can see an example of a Digg widget in action. Putting a content widget on your website or blog can be one way to keep parents and students staying on your website longer and coming back more often than they otherwise might. Digg's content widget will even allow users to specify that only stories related to education are displayed on your blog.

File Hosting and Sharing Services for Education
Scribd is a free service that makes it possible for users to host or embed any type of large document. Using Scribd you can take any document, a copy of your course curriculum for example, and embed it into your blog. Alternatively you could post a link to the url of your document as it is hosted on Scribd. The other outstanding feature of Scribd is the option of having visitors comment on the documents you create. Scroll down to the bottom of this blog post to view a short video introduction to Scribd.

File Dropper
is a very simple free service for hosting and sharing large files. In two steps you can have your files uploaded and shared on your blog or website. Simply upload your file to File Dropper, File Dropper gives your file a specific url, then you can share the link on your website or via email. is my favorite free service for sharing files on the Internet. allows users to create a custom url for sharing files. Once you've created your custom url you can add as many files as you like up to 100mb. provides each custom url with an upload widget that can be placed on your blog or website. Place that upload widget on your class blog and students can upload their homework assignments to the url you've created. Using that upload widget is a great way to collect homework assignments electronically without clogging up your email inbox. Beyond hosting your files can help you create content. Each custom url is assigned a phone number which you can call to record a voice message to be played on the Internet. Scroll down for a video introduction to created by Allen Stern of Center Networks.

Here is a video introduction to

This is a video introduction to Scribd.

There are other file hosting and sharing services available for free. The ones I've mentioned above are those that I've used with my classes. If you have a free file hosting service that you've used with your classes, please leave a comment and let us know about it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Increasing Teacher-Parent Communication. Part II: Websites and Wikis

In part one of this series about increasing and improving teacher-parent communication we looked at using blogs to communicate with parents. Blogs are great tools for communicating with parents, but sometimes they're not quite flexible enough for what you may be trying to do. This is where creating a classroom website or classroom wiki comes in.

With free website building platforms even novice computer users can create a website containing a variety of pages to meet your needs. For example if a teacher could build a website targeted toward helping parents help their students with assignments at home. That teacher could build a page within a the classroom website dedicated to showing and explaining sample math problems or how to distinguish parts of speech. While you could post that information could be posted in a blog entry it's probably easier for parents to find it if by just clicking on a tab or link on the classroom website. On a classroom website a teacher may want to post a calendar of events or copy of classroom and school policies.

Building a classroom wiki is in many ways similar to building a classroom website with the primary difference being that a wiki can have multiple contributors and editors. Creating a classroom wiki that students can contribute to and edit is a great way to get them involved in communicating with their parents about school. Much like building a website, a wiki can have tabbed or categorized browsing to help visitors find information quicker than they would by searching through a blog's archive.

Here is a short video from Common Craft explaining the wiki concept.

Website Builders and Wikis for Education
Weebly is a completely free website building and hosting platform. Getting started is very easy (I personally got two "older" reluctant technophobes started in less than 10 minutes) and the directions are very straightforward. The support/ help team at Weebly is very responsive and will answer any question if you email them. There is a wide variety of templates and color schemes that users can pick from. Finally, unlike some free services your visitors won't be exposed to advertising unless you allow it.

Webnode is another 100% free website building and hosting platform. Like Weebly getting started is quite easy. Webnode gives users a lot of layout flexibility. One of the great things about Webnode is that the sites you build and host on Webnode are compatible with every web browser.

Google Sites
is kind of a hybrid between a website building and hosting platform and a wiki platform. On Google Sites the standard layout options are more like those you would see on a regular website, but unlike some website building and hosting services multiple users can contribute and edit content. Below is a short video introduction to using Google Sites.

Wikispaces is a free wiki service for educators. In an informal comparison with other wiki services my high school students preferred Wikispaces over two other free wiki providers. Initially I was not impressed by Wikispaces because their standard free package would place advertising on the wiki that I had no control over. Then I discovered that Wikispaces has a free option especially for educators that doesn't place questionable advertising on your wiki. Click here to visit the educator page.

PBWiki is the free wiki service that I convinced my district's curriculum coordinator to use with the district's Social Studies teachers to share and collaborate on lesson plans and ideas. PBWiki's free version doesn't place any advertising on your wiki and in my opinion is actually easier for those born before the digital generation to learn and use. PBWiki also, from time to time, hosts great webinars for teachers and parents about online learning and online safety.

WetPaint is another free wiki service that is popular among educators. Like PBWiki and Wikispaces, WetPaint provides a wiki platform for educators that is completely advertising free. WetPaint also provides help to teachers through their education ambassadors. Click here to see the WetPaint education page.

I've only mentioned a few wiki and website builders. There are many others that are free and good for education. If you have a wiki or website builder that you use and would recommend to others please leave a comment.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Increasing Teacher-Parent Communication. Part I: Blogging

Before too long teachers across the country will be holding parent/teacher conferences. But before that first meeting there are some great ways to have positive communication with parents via the Internet. There are three categories of free web tools that teachers can use to increase communication with parents. Those three categories are blogs, free website builders, and file sharing/ hosting services. Before jumping into a discussion blogging platforms it should be noted that setting up an email list and sending out a weekly update to your students' parents is still a great way to keep parents informed about your classroom. Email lists are great, but blogs, websites, and file hosts can help you offer more information and resources to your students' parents.

Maintaining a blog for your class is great way to share information with parents and students. The four blogging platforms that are reviewed below are easy to establish and maintain. Blogs automatically list your updates in chronological order with the most recent update appearing first. This makes it easy for parents to quickly find the latest information about your class. As a teacher having a chronological list is useful for looking back over the course of the year/ semester to remember what you've covered and dedicated time to.

A blog can be as simple as just posting quick notes or updates about what is happening in your classroom. A blog can also offer a lot more than text to your parents and students. You can add links to helpful web resources, link to files containing homework assignments (for those students who "forgot" to bring "that paper" home), or add widgets to make your blog more engaging and keep parents and students coming back regularly.

Blogging Platforms for Increasing Teacher-Parent Communication
Tumblr is probably the simplest and easiest blog platform for teachers new to blogging to use. Tumblr blogs can be created in minutes and Tumblr walks new users through the process step-by-step. Tumblr's user interface makes adding new entries and different types of media an obvious process to new users. To see just how quick and easy it is to set up a Tumblr blog, click here to watch a short how-to video that I made.

Blogger is the platform that this blog is created and hosted on. Blogger is a Google product which anyone with a Google account can use. Blogger allows users a lot of flexibility in terms of layout and design as well as content creation. Blogger offers more options than Tumblr which is why it may take new users a little longer to get started compared to Tumblr. The one downside to using the Blogger platform is that some school and workplace filters block access to blogs written on Blogger.

Wordpress is an extremely popular free blogging platform because of the amazing flexibility it offers to users. A Wordpress blog can be set up in minutes and tinkered with for hours. There are more stock design templates and layouts available from Wordpress than are available from Blogger or Tumblr.

Finally, Edublogs is a popular blogging platform among educators. Edublogs offers a number of free design templates and multimedia options. Edublogs is popular in part because of the options available for monitoring and moderating access to blogs created with their service. Edublogs offers a number of great video tutorials and suggestions for using blogs in education that are well worth watching. Click here to watch a video introduction to Edublogs.