Friday, July 10, 2015

How to Collect Parent Information {Digitally}

As much as I'd like to push this fact to the back of my mind and forget it, I can't: it's mid-July, and back-to-school events are right around the corner. With that comes the gathering of all kinds of information about your new students. Here are some helpful hints about how to collect information in a paperless way.


I've written before about a free service called Remindclick here for more information. I highly recommend inviting parents to join your Remind class during a back-to-school meeting because you can clear any confusion immediately and make sure everyone is signed up before they leave!

Now you can use Remind's "stamp" feature to conduct polls or get feedback on your announcements. Not only would this be super-handy for collecting information at a back-to-school meeting, but it would be an extra incentive for parents to sign up for the service since they can't participate in the poll if they're not connected to your channel! Keep in mind that recipients are only able to send stamps from the app -- not from the web or through text messaging. {The Remind app is available in both the App Store and the Google Play store.} The stamp feature is applied automatically to all announcements, so there is no extra work on the teachers' side.

There are 4 different stamps. Typically, the ★ = the recipient acknowledging the message, the  = "yes," the  = "no," and the ? is self-explanatory. :) However, you can easily conduct quick polls of your own by giving new meaning to each symbol. Here's an example of using Remind to ask parents how their child will go home:

I sent a message to my "test" class, asking how each student would get home this year. If I'd been thinking clearly when I did it, I would've just copied and pasted the actual icons into the message to save myself a few characters. :)

A parents' view from the app: he/she gets the announcement you just sent 

A parents' view from the app: he/she clicks the star in the bottom, right corner to reveal the stamp options

If the announcement was sent to the entire class, parents can see an overall tally of each stamp (so they could see that you received 10 stars, 3 checks, and 5 X marks), but they don't get to see how each person answered.

As the teacher, though, you can see who answered and how they answered:
A teacher's view from the web: I can see the name of the person associated with the account and how they voted {in the picture above, "C TestParent" voted with an "X."}

Click here to read more about the stamp feature on the Remind website.

Ideas to Ask Parents at Back-to-School Meetings:
  1. Travel: How will your child normally go home this year?  = bus,  = walking/biking,  = picked up in car/truck or by daycare
  2. InternetDo you have internet access at home?  = yes,  = no
  3. BYODCan your child bring his/her mobile device to school for academic purposes?  = yes,  = no
  4. ContactHow do you prefer to be contacted:  = phone,  = e-mail
  5. NewsHow do you prefer to learn about classroom news:  = blog/website,  = social media,  = e-mail, ? = printed paper
  6. TutoringWill your student attend my tutoring club on Tues and Thurs from 3:00-3:30?  = yes,  = no

Ideas to Ask Students at Back-to-School Meetings or the first week of school:
  1. Feelings pollHow do you feel about being in this new grade level?  = excited,  = happy,  = nervous or scared, ? = not sure or combination of these
  2. Multiple choice pop quiz to assess prior knowledge: 45 - 12 = ...  = 57,  = 33,  = 35, ? = 24
  3. Getting-to-know-you: Have you ever been to the beach?  = yes,  = no; Did you read a book this summer?  = yes,  = no; Coke or Pepsi?  = Coke, ? = Pepsi
  4. Anticipatory set: What's your favorite genre out of these?  = non-fiction,  = realistic fiction,  = sci-fi or fantasy, ? = historical fiction

Google Forms

I heart Google forms! Forms are so easy to set up, all information is stored in the cloud so you can never lose it, and all entries are organized into a nice little spreadsheet that you can sort however you wish. This is perfect for collecting a lot of information, since you can ask an unlimited number of questions and receive answers in many different formats {typed/free text, multiple choice, checkboxes, scale, etc.}. Here's a blog post about utilizing Google Forms in the classroom.

Extra tip: Put the link to your Google Form in a QR code, and post the QR code by your door. Parents can scan it during meet the teacher hour or back-to-school meetings and quickly provide you with all the information you need.

Sign Up Genius {Or Volunteer Spot}

Need help in your classroom? Want to schedule Mystery Readers? Need to know who is running the class store on token economy shopping days? Organize volunteers the easy way by using Sign Up Genius. It's super-easy to use; just write down the days and times you need help, and send the link to parents or post it on your class blog/e-mail signature. Bonus: reminder e-mails are automatically sent to volunteers a few days before the event so you can focus on what's really important {like figuring out what you're going to bring to the staff luncheon STAAR testing}.

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