This framework for communication and data collection has been created to improve school-home communication, with or without remote learning, in a way that considers access, equity, and inclusion. The following specific goals were identified:
- Identify home supports to better assess the needs of students (at risk, ELL etc.)
- Conduct ongoing appraisal of guardian comfort level, expectations, and restrictions in supporting learning
This was done by creating a structure and framework, specific to K-8 and 9-12 educators, for recording data from communication opportunities with each family.
For K-8 parents, research has shown that a more “hands-on” approach to their child’s education is positively associated with academic success. Two-way school-home communication best facilitates conversations between teacher-parent and parent-child to aid in parent engagement and in supporting other aspects where information gathering is paramount for academic success. In addition, research indicates many school systems do not adequately account for the needs of many ELL families – using English in most school-parent communications. Understanding the barriers that hinder parent involvement and selecting appropriate communication tools can aid educators in successfully supporting and improving parent/guardian engagement.
As K-8 educators typically instruct fewer students than high school educators, it may be reasonable for K-8 educators to maintain a record of the communications for each family. Although we suggest using a combination of the Remind app for two-way communication with recording occurring with OneNote, this framework and template can be adjusted for many different applications and programs.
Microsoft OneNote provides educators with creative collaboration and communication between other teachers, students and parents. OneNote allows you to create folders and collaborate with others by providing access to multiple users. This is particularly useful at this age, when data may be collected from numerous professionals on services required by students such as: OT (Occupational Therapist), SLP (Speech and Language Pathologist), TDHH (Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing). In terms of data collection, OneNote supports organization and management of running records, and can provide password-protected access to material as an additional privacy feature.
As OneNote allows for synchronous editing, it can serve as both a database and a shared communication log – a feature that provides all school-team members access to collected student data in order to identify and plan for potential barriers to learning and/or home support. Additionally, OneNote is accessible with any device, and provides its users with multi-modal applications.
In consideration of accessibility, OneNote also has an built-in immersive reader, a built-in translate feature which can convert text into 65 different languages, and a built-in accessibility checker.
Remind is a free communication platform allowing educators to connect through text messaging. It supports both one-way and two-way communication, as well as individual, class wide or school wide messaging. The built-in translation icon allows messages to be translated into more than 90 different languages as necessary support for ELL students and their families. Remind stores communication history and allows for a history to be exported via email and collected and stored confidentially in a program such as OneNote. It is also supported with other common platforms like: Google Classroom, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. Remind allows for family preferences in communication using technology – direct or indirect, synchronous or non-synchronous.
K-8 Communication Setup
The communication log template is available on Google Drive – however for best results copy the format to a Word document, or directly onto a OneNote page to allow for Microsoft’s various accessibility tools. Once there, additional columns can be added and modified as needed.
- Create a notebook for Communication tracking, or create a separate section within an existing class notebook.
- Share a link to the notebook with necessary colleagues/paraprofessionals as needed.
- Create separate sections/tabs for each student/family.
- Add a first page in each section for the communication log template
- Create a free Remind app account.
- Send out a first communication.
*This style of communication setup could also be created with Google Drive/Classroom and another communication application, as it has similar functionality to OneNote in terms of collecting, storing, and sharing information.
The image below is a screen capture of a OneNote setup with the communication template: