We start school on Tuesday. And while there’s a lot about my new students that I don’t know yet, one thing I do know is my roster count: I’ll have more than 130 students in my Algebra and Geometry sections. I don’t know about you, but to me, that is a lot of kids. So one thing I’ve been thinking about is how to make class communication more efficient.
We use standards-based grading at my school, and I want to encourage students to retake assessments by making the retake process as smooth and easy as possible. I also wanted to make sure that students would show me evidence that they had worked to improve their performance on the standard before they could do a retake. So I decided to create a Google Form where students could provide this information to me and choose a date to retake.
Once I started to create it, it seemed natural to allow students to also use the form to communicate other things to me. I’m a huge fan of the idea of coauthoring your classroom and have a big blank space for students to post their creations in my room, so I added a form where students can let me know about work they want to share. And in my ever-ongoing quest to build relationships with students, I added a page where students could message me about anything that’s on their minds.
Ultimately I created this sign, which I’ll post in the classroom:
Students can type in the URL on their Chromebooks or scan the QR code on their phones to access the form:
It remains to be seen how well this system will work, but I’m pretty jazzed about it. My classroom communication systems have been pretty… unsystematic for the last couple of years. Students haven’t had a safe, simple way to relay concerns to me or just talk about things that they’re thinking about, so I’m hopeful that providing this will enable me to create a stronger classroom community. And with the relatively large enrollment in my classes, I’m hopeful that this system will enable me to encourage students to be proactive about signing up for retakes and will give me a simple way to stay on top of who’s retaking assessments and when.
As I’ve been working this out, one thing I’ve been thinking about is that some students may see this and think that the message is, “don’t bother me, just use the form.” And of course that’s not my intention — I want this to be a tool that enhances student-teacher communication by providing students with an easy way to talk to me and address common classroom issues. So when I roll it out, I’ll be sure to let them know that they are also free to come talk with me about anything that’s on their minds.
If you use a similar system in your classroom or have other ideas for how this system could work, I’d love to hear about it. You can access a copy of the Message Box Google Form by clicking here.