Back to School Night traditionally brought parents into the school to meet their child’s teachers and hear about the great things that would happen in the classroom and the expectations for their students. Since an in person event may be still risky with the virus looming, here are some ways that teachers and schools can create a strong partnership with families for a virtual back to school night...and they are free:
Screencastify- Creating a Google Slides slideshow or Powerpoint presentation is a wonderful; way to share information and visuals, but it is greatly enhanced with an educator voice-over describing each slide in his/her voice.Kim Huls, a third grade teacher in Western Michigan came up with a creative solution: an interactive Google Slideshow. The final presentation can be shared by downloading as an MP4 and then shared as a google link or uploaded to youtube.
Prezi video- Prezi has been one of my go-to presentation builders for many years. It engages the audience differently by allowing the presenter to zoom in on objects, words and pictures. Videos and music are embedded and start automatically. The new features of creating a video take engagement to another level by allowing the presenter to narrate the slide show with not only a voice-over, but video of the presenter speaking. This is a game-changer! The audience is able to sense the energy of the presenter by not only hearing them, but seeing them. There is also the feature of a virtual meeting that can enhance the presentation. The file can be shared to Google Classroom or download as an MP4 and then shared as a google link or uploaded to youtube.
Adobe Spark- This app allows the user to create beautiful graphic images, webpages and video. Much like screencastify, the user can do a voice over for each slide that has been uploaded. The bonus is being able to upload video to the presentation. The final product can be shared easily with a link and saved as an MP4 file.
Virtual Meeting Apps- Zoom and Google Meet are now common household words that everyone is familiar with, but there are some other virtual meeting apps that can also do the same thing. Whichever one you prefer, interacting face-to face (albeit virtually) helps to create a connection and a foundation for positive relationships. As the moderator, you have the ability to share your screen or presentation with participants with the added features of a live conversation.
Bitmoji- join the craze! Teachers discovered the power of creating a Bitmoji classroom to engage students, why not create one for parents? Try sharing information about your classroom rules, syllabus, textbook and resources, grading policy and other information in a fun way.
FlipGrid- Video platform that allows you to record a message and then share it out using a link. This is perfect to greet families virtually and share information about your class using the new feature of sharing your slide show.
Students are unique--and so are you. Whichever way you feel the most comfortable sharing information with families about your classroom or school events is what you should do. The important thing is to maintain lines of communication with your students and their families. We are living in a new normal, accept it, embrace it and share your best self. Have a wonderful school year! #YouGotThis