Looking for ideas to increase parent engagement this school year? Here are some ways you use can use Google Drive to collaborate with parents.
Benefits of Google Drive
- All staff and students already have a free Google account.
- Parents don't have to pay for Microsoft Office in order to read what you send them digitally.
- Parents use the same username and password they use for their Gmail account.
- Google Drive can be downloaded on smartphones and tablets, so parents can access every document without having to own a computer or pay for Internet at their house.
- Google saves everything you're working on, so you won't have to start from scratch when your computer restarts for updates halfway into creating your monthly newsletter.
Ways to Use Google Drive for Parent Engagement
1. Collecting Contact Data - You can create a Google Form with as many questions as you'd like. You can setup a computer station for parents to visit when they come in for Open House or Back to School Night. You can also post the form link on your class website for the parents who weren't able to make it. For parents who still haven't filled out the form, you print and send home a paper copy, then input the information it yourself.
With a couple of clicks, you can set up your form to organize the data into a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is stored in your Google Drive and is completely private unless you change the settings to share it. If you share students with other teachers, this is a great way to share contact information.
2. Sharing a Presentation - Easily upload your Back to School (or other) PowerPoint to your Google Drive or create one using Google Drive's Presentation app. Next, change the sharing settings so that anyone with a link can view it. You can then copy the link and e-mail it to your list of parent e-mails (that you collected from your Google form), and also post it to your class website. If parents missed your live presentation, or want to refer back to it, they can access it at their convenience.
3. Sending a Class Newsletter - Your class newsletter can be created and sent to parents using Google Docs. There are several newsletter templates that you can edit for your own class newsletter. Make sure you change it so that parents with the link can only view.
When you create your newsletter, you can add photos from your classroom to it and link to resources you want to share.
4. Communicating About Behavior - It is good to prepare for those couple of students who end up needing parent communication about behavior on a daily basis. Instead of coloring in a smiley face every day or sending home multiple notes, why not share a Google Spreadsheet with their parents? Not only is this a wonderful resource for divorced parents and busy families, but it simplifies the process for you. You can add information to the spreadsheet directly from your own device (You can also use the Google Drive app on your iPad). You can immediately add an anecdotal note about the student without having to dash across the classroom looking for a pen, or waiting until the end of the day when you've already forgotten what behaviors happened when.
You can set up a Google Form that I can fill out quickly, with the particular problem behaviors for that student as checkboxes. You then share the spreadsheet where the data goes with the parents.
*Remember to change the share settings so that only the people you invite can view.
5. Conference Sign-ups - This year I sent home paper forms for parents to sign up for a parent-teacher conference slot. They had the option to fill out the paper form with their top 3 choices, or log into the Google Doc to add their name to a guaranteed slot. The parents who turned in the paper form were given one of their appointments depending on the availability, but the parents filling it out online immediately knew when their conference slot was. I only received 4 paper forms, leaving a lot less work for me. I also had 100% attendance this year, which means the parents knew when their time slots were and there was no lost paper between me and their family.
During Open House, Back to School, and even Parent-Teacher Conferences, you can personally show parents how to create an account and download the Google Drive app to their phone. For parents without e-mail addresses, you also help them sign up for Gmail, and download the app on their phone with notifications turned on.
For those parents who do not have smartphones, devices, or computers, all of these files can be easily printed just like any other file on your computer. You can even have parents fill out a Google form using paper and pencil, then fill it out digitally for them. You can also have a computer available in your classroom where parents can log in and participate.
If you would like to implement any of these tips, please contact your Ed Tech Coach for help.