In my role as a Digital Learning Specialist, I support ten schools across all grade levels from Pre-K to High School. My goal is to help educators leverage technology in their classrooms to increase student engagement and learning and to increase collaboration, community, and connection within the entire school community.
The Wakelet Bridge
For educators, building a relationship and a sense of community with your students and parents is arguably the most crucial component in achieving success in your classroom. Whether you teach elementary, middle, or high school, it is important to establish strong relationships with your students and to get the parents involved as much as possible. But we all know how busy parents are managing family responsibilities, full-time jobs, and juggling outside activities, so they have very little time to connect with teachers and schools. This is where Wakelet can be used to close the gap and connect parents to the school with a “Wakelet Bridge”. This bridge can be used to give parents a sense of belonging and pride in the schools their students attend.
An Idea is Born
Last spring I was visiting one of my favorite elementary campuses and as I walked the hallways I was amazed by the vibrant and inspiring displays of student learning that were all around me. I saw colorful maps, thoughtful self-portraits, and lots of amazing projects and artwork created by the students. I spotted the school mascot pinned on a main wall along with the school colors and the school motto. I saw vision statements, mission statements, and the school values displayed prominently in a main hallway. On the classroom doors and along the outside walls of the classrooms, there were more displays of current topics being studied along with student created projects and artwork. I was so touched by the way each piece was proudly displayed and carefully placed, that I was inspired to pull out my phone and start taking pictures. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with all these pictures, but I knew I had to take them.
This was clearly a school that had ample pride, and the pictures and artwork told a story of a safe and nurturing learning environment for all. I wondered if any parents had the chance to visit these hallways and I thought how sad it would be if they didn’t get to see these amazing projects. I was certain if I was a parent at this school, I would love to see these hallways and classrooms, and experience this pride. I knew how hard it was for working parents to walk through the hallways of their child’s school frequently, yet I knew if all the parents could see these hallways they would feel more connected, more prideful, and more appreciative of all the wonderful educators at this school. I started to think about how I could easily share all these pictures with parents, especially since these projects are frequently changed and replaced with new learning artifacts. Then, I thought about my favorite digital curation tool, Wakelet, and my idea for connecting the parents with a “Wakelet bridge” was born.
A Wakelet for Every Teacher
I took all the pictures and loaded them into a Wakelet, and created a campus hub showcasing a visual story of all the learning happening at this school. I showed this school Wakelet to the administrators and staff and convinced them to get on board with my “Wakelet bridge” idea. Since this campus had a lot of parents who spoke English as a second language, I wanted the teachers to focus solely on pictures with just a few short captions here and there. That would allow us to communicate visually instead of verbally and would transcend the language barrier.
The next step was simple, but magical. I don’t know if you are aware, but one of the most powerful features of Wakelet is that you can put a Wakelet within another Wakelet, kind of like the movie “Inception” – it’s pretty cool. So the school Wakelet was named after the campus and then each teacher’s Wakelet was added into the school Wakelet, and just like that we had a Wakelet made up of Wakelets – you can be impressed now. I chose the “columns” view for my layout so I could easily organize the Wakelets by grade level. I was able to train the teachers on how to create a Wakelet account and how to upload pictures in a 30 minute hands on session during their planning periods. I created a teacher template that they copied after they created their account, and I helped them download the Wakelet app on their phones so pictures could be easily uploaded. Once they created their own classroom Wakelet from the teacher template I provided, they shared their Wakelet with me. I added it to the school Wakelet, and when we were ready, we shared the school Wakelet with parents using the QR code and the share link. Now we were on our way to building this Wakelet bridge to connect the parents to the school community.
Here is a Wakelet collection of resources to help you build a Wakelet bridge in your school community. This Wakelet includes steps to follow to get this community building project going. It also includes tips for a successful implementation as well as the templates for the school and teacher Wakelet you will need to get started.
Lisa is a Digital Learning Specialist in the FWISD and loves to work alongside teachers to help them discover the power of using digital tools in the classroom. Lisa has been in the education industry since 2005, and has worked with grade levels ranging from Pre-K to High School teaching a variety of technology topics. Lisa is a Google Certified Trainer, an MIE Expert, a Wakelet Ambassador, and an advocate for using technology in the classroom to engage and empower learners of all ages!
Follow Lisa on Wakelet: https://wakelet.com/@Lisa4EdTech
Connect with Lisa on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lisa4EdTech
Explore Lisas website: Lisa’s EdTech Corner