Here are 4 ways you can encourage your students to share their thoughts and questions when you aren't together in the classroom:
Google DriveMy students submit their multimedia creations and lesson reflections on public blogs, but what about work that is in the draft phases? How can they submit that to me paperlessly and still get the feedback they need? Google Drive has been the answer to that question for my students this year. Students make me an editor on their notes, outlines, and drafts. Then I can go in and comment on their work-in-progress. The best part is that I get email notifications when they resolve problems or comment back based on my feedback. Here are some examples of important detailed conversations I've had outside of school hours and walls because of Google Drive.
|Helping a freshman narrow her research questions early in a project|
so she'll be more successful in the long run.
|Helping a sophomore differentiate between scholarly|
and encyclopedic secondary sources.
|My Twitter info is on the whiteboard in the classroom and|
I mention it at the end of most emails I send home to parents.
Tweets about "#thankateenager"
Finally, if students are tweeting about something that's going on related to your class, encourage them to tag you or use your class hashtag in the tweet. It is important to establish a positive class culture and clear digital citizenship expectations before doing this, of course. Recently some of my students' work was published and they tweeted out the links because they were excited. Here's one example:
Read, Analyze, Create, Publish: http://t.co/fuVTlnFAJE @KerryHawk02 yayyyy😃
— Morgan (@morgan_flynn16) April 30, 2014
iMessageI know it sounds weird to text message with your students, but hear me out. iMessage allows users to create multiple iMessage accounts based on phone numbers or email addresses. I certainly would not give my students my personal cell number, but they already have my school email address. Sometimes it makes more sense to have a conversation via text message than via a long slow string of emails. Once again, after establishing some very clear digital citizenship guidelines, I have been able to quickly address student questions outside of school hours using iMessage so that students aren't getting stuck while working at home. Often these are clarifications on assignments that can be addressed quickly.
|This student wanted to confirm a good painting choice before|
moving to the next step in his Romanticism Art Analysis project.
|This student needed help crafting the research question|
for her semester long research project.
I'm sure there are more methods to communicate with parents and students (Remind101 comes to mind) but the combination of these 4 in the circumstance described has worked well for my students and their families this year. Feel free to comment with more that have helped your students be successful as well.