Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Easy & Effective Parent Communication

First, check out our two-week class updates on our Weebly

I hear your thoughts...
     It's just too much work.
     I don't have time to do that on top of everything else.
     No one else at my school does it, so why should I?

And yet...
     Parents have no clue what happens in the classroom.
     You know you'd appreciate it if you were the parents.
     We should model what we preach.

You know the reasons WHY you should...
     If parents share these videos/posts with their children, students may be more involved in class.
     Parents want to know what's going on in your class.
     Once you start share what you're doing with parents, you'll plan for even more effective lessons!

Here's the How-To:
     1. Get an Animoto account. The basic account should be free for educators. I have purchased the yearly subscription so I can get videos up to 10 minutes. Yes, I believe it's that important and that easy to use.
     2. Set up one device at school that one student will use throughout the day (or class period) for taking pictures. Give guidelines on these photos - horizontal works best, only 5-6 per period (I have three classes - more than this is too many for one Animoto video), and if you're recording, only up to 9 second videos (again, because I use Animoto).
     3. Every two weeks, quickly edit and download student-chosen photos. Put them in an Animoto (or other) video / slide show. Choose your music from their huge selection. (I choose based on length of the video and songs.) Post on your blog. Email parents in a mass email.

Want to go a step further?
     1. Write an actual blog post to go along with the movie / slide show. Yes - explain what you did the past two weeks. I've noticed this keeps me on task - we don't have a lot of "fluff" in our days, because we're working towards goals I write about in these posts.
     2. Next step - have students write the blog posts!! (I'm not there - yet. With three classes and kids doing so many things outside of school, I haven't had any takers...)

Parents DO appreciate it. Sometimes I get emails thanking me for the updates, and just recently I received a comment on the last two-week blog post:

It's worth it.
Try it.
Parents will appreciate it!

Many thanks to Jen Smith, who inspired me to try this at an AHSD25 Tech Academy session in 2013! Think like a parent, and you'll be jumping on board...

Update: Thank you to Amy Cody Clancy for your comment! Here is the email I send parents the #1st5days of school to ask for parent permission to create these videos. Technically, our district can post any photos of students unless parents opt-out, but I like to cover my bases. :)


  1. Joy,

    Inspiring post. I especially appreciate how you mention that these videos are a way to focus your instruction and keep you accountable--by setting up this system, you know have to "put your teaching where you videos are"...or something like that.

    Either way, this is a great idea, and I'm now considering doing it with my freshmen.



    1. Yes! Put it on your "to do" list for next week! ;D

  2. Is there an issue with sending photos of other kids out to others besides their own parents? I am not sure our school would allow this due to privacy... not sure. I'm wondering if a name is not attached if it's a big deal and i guess I'll have to ask them. Sounds like a great student project to me!

    1. I did ask parents first. I sent out an email at the beginning of the year - check it out here: I'll add it to the post - thank you so much for commenting!