School Success Stories: Using Tech to Support Students

jefferson heartGUOne of our amazing schools, Jefferson Middle School, has a story to tell. We caught up with Darlene Pope, teacher and GEAR UP Leadership Team Member, who shared with us some of the technology she uses in her class to support her students and stay in touch with families.

Zoom video conferencing (and it gaining in popularity across many fields, not just education) is free up to 40 minutes, but I have a subscription. I meet every Wed evening in a virtual online face to face session with students and parents. I meet for an hour. I answer clarifying questions. I can have up to 20 people in my virtual meeting. We kind of look like the Brady Bunch. Check it out at zoom.us.
Remind is awesome. It is how I communicate with parents and students. This is how I alert parents their student has missed an assignment and how I send homework tasks to my classes. I can also text with students about homework. It is a free and digitally safe texting tool. I can even attach documents, www.remind.com.
Darlene was considerate enough to sit down with us and answer more questions about how she uses these resources.
  1. Does the entire school use either of these tools? If not, how many teachers do?

No the entire school does not use these tools, but it takes time for it to catch on. However, about 10 teachers are using Remind and I have as a goal getting more on board. I am the only one experimenting with Zoom. I use it as a tool for student support and parent communication as well as conferencing. It allows me to share my desktop, record a session and have about 25 people in on a single conversation. Students pop in and out to ask a question and get clarification.  I can envision it as a way to flip a classroom or as a way to hold class in the event that class is canceled.

  1. How did you hear about them?

I learned about Zoom through my work with CTQ and the NEA. I facilitate online learning with cohorts of teachers who are designing and implementing teacher leadership projects. I learned about Remind from a teacher at our high school several years ago.

  1. What is the response from parents?

Parents love both of these tools. It provides them an easy way to stay in touch. Remind even has an translation feature! I can send a doc via Remind as well. Zoom allows me to see into the home environments of my students as well. They parents who use it are most appreciative.

  1. How many parents do you engage with each tool?

Remind about 90% of my students’ families. Zoom is a much smaller group. Probably only 15%, but this will increase as I modify my parent info presentation to include a demo of this.

We thank Darlene and all the awesome teachers at Jefferson for their forward thinking and deep passion for doing what it takes to ensure ALL students have access to a great education.

Will these resources and Darlene’s experience with them inspire you?

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