Online bulletin boards have transformed the way that I teach, but especially the way that I communicate with students and parents.
While at my current job, I used both Edmodo and Canvas at two separate times. Both platforms were free for individual teachers and user-friendly. Best yet, I never had to carry papers around in a stack to grade at home; I just needed my laptop. Students could receive my comments and make corrections without digging in their bags for the previous drafts. This feedback was invaluable for the development of their writing. Because of this unique online storage capacity, I was able to avert attempted plagiarism as students tried to sell or recycle papers from previous years. This too, aided me in communicating violations with parents as I was able to show them the papers side-by-side and provide evidence.
As my school began to adopt Canvas as a full high school and middle school platform, my communication and interaction with parents increased as well as my interaction with students. I continued to have the function of instant access to my students via inbox messages and announcements, but I also learned how to use the module function, which allowed me to provide unit by unit outlines of what topic, handouts, Youtube videos, downloads, discussions, URLs, assignments or readings needed to be completed by students. Students received comments on their written work faster than ever before as I grew comfortable with the functions of Canvas’ annotation and comments features. I even began to use the ePortfolios function of Canvas. All of these functions allowed me to track student progress and truly aid students in developing their skills.
In terms of communication, both parents and students receive instant notification of grades as soon as I update them. They both have access to the gradebook of the student and can monitor progress regularly. When I send a full-class announcement, parents see that announcement as well. I have used this function to announce vacation readings, ask for volunteers, remind students of important deadlines for major assignments, or to remind parents to review grades before the end of a quarter/semester. But that’s not all: I’ve also used it to encourage students as a whole, write positive messages and remind high school students to be safe during festive holidays. I know that parents have appreciated these messages because they have responded to me via email and also have sent positive emails to my high school principal on my behalf.
School-wide, we have seen astounding statistics taken from Canvas usage that have shown us that students and parents are plugging in. In a new part-time job, I have expanded my repertoire by using the Moodle as part of a virtual school. In my opinion, any school virtual or non-virtual should be using at least one of these programs throughout their middle or high school.
It’s a new world out there. We need new tools to be successful.