Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday, Nov. 12: Measuring Classroom Communication Tools

For a variety of reasons, I've been relatively technologically advanced in my professional life (note all the qualifiers in that statement!). MDIHS is blessed with great funding and visionary leadership, a combo that resulted in an emphasis on technology from the get-go. We had a writing lab full of Macs when I started in 1989, and we were 1:1 laptops a few years before the program began. Teachers were expected to have websites quite early (Manila pages, anyone?),  we used Powerschool for grading, and then four three years ago the Freshman Team was encouraged to use Google Classroom and we adopted MasteryConnect. . . . At times I felt beleaguered, at times I felt cool, and at times I felt inept and overwhelmed, but I sure have developed a lot of opinions!

My task for this module of UMF EDU 568 is to make a rubric to evaluate classroom communication tools, which I've been investigating through that class. The tools that have been in my head as I made the rubric are blogs, webpages, Twitter, MasteryConnect, Powerschool/PowerteacherPro, and Google classroom.

And my opinion of all of them reminds me of a line from Much Ado about Nothing, Act II, scene iii: Benedick says, "One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace." There are lots of great classroom communication tools out there, but so far, it's been hard to find "all graces in one" tool!
        Google Classroom, which is great for classroom management, has been poor for parent and support staff communication, but it made a huge stride forward by adding communication with parents as an option. However,  I have heard that 1. parents get too much information, 2. the information is hard to understand, and I know for a fact that GC's student view is challengingly different than the teacher view, so it can be confusing on several levels.
      MasteryConnect gives lots of important formation, but it's not a classroom management platform like GC is. I could use Twitter to send out alerts, but right now I'm not sure how to connect Twitter to GC so missing work could trigger messages to parents. . .

       The task language for a related assessment encourages us to "let [our brains] daydream" and the "effective"category on my rubric (not to mention the "transformative!" one) is certainly in the daydream category, but making the rubric has certainly reminded me of why the ideal of constant communication and feedback can be overwhelming and frustrating to educators. We need the ability to be public and private, to plan long-term and adjust in the moment, to share a variety of information in a variety of venues with a variety of people who have a variety of needs and interests. So far, it takes a village of tools to communicate in a way that even comes close to meeting my needs, as the rubric drives home. Most communication tools at this time are scoring in the 1 or 2 category. Google developers, feel free to contact me for more suggestions!

And here's my rubric. . . .