Digital newsletters may be my very favorite form of creation as a teacher. No matter how busy and crazy our day in the classroom can become, documenting experiences and putting them into a thoughtful reflective piece is a game changer. It allows for me, as the teacher, to pinpoint areas of interest, challenge, and focus to guide instruction. It allows families to glance inside our classroom and feel connected, therefore supporting the transfer of learning into the larger world. Most importantly, it allows kids the opportunity to reflect and process their experiences.
Over the past three years I have used an abundance of formats to create digital newsletters. There are way too many ideas for me to share in one post, so I have decided to start by offering some tips and samples here. I will dedicate subsequent blog posts to breaking down the process of creating and sharing with individual tools. Here are a few general ideas for getting started:
Have an idea, but be open to change. At the beginning of the week, I may have some ideas about where the digital newsletter may be heading based on our area of focus or highlighted activities that I know will lend themselves to visual documentation. However, I am always open to the possibility that the kids will have a better idea than me, and I allow the experiences to unfold. By the end of the week, the direction is always clear, and I am ready to polish up our documentation.
Make technology accessible for kids. We do not have a "technology center" in our classroom. Chromebook and iPads are meant to be integrated into activities throughout the day, and in a variety of spaces in our classroom. When planning academic lessons, I try to consider tools that I can introduce that will naturally extend into children's play later on. Setting limits on where and when tech should be used, will also limit opportunities for documenting the work of kids. Possibilities should be everywhere!
Focus on creation tools. When I integrate technology into a lesson, it is almost always for the purposes of creation. Integrating opportunities to model creation into academic lessons, will naturally open up the door for children to begin creating in their play. The creations of children naturally lend themselves to integration into a digital newsletter format. The work of creating digital newsletters is a collaborative effort between kids and teachers.
Enjoy the process! People often wonder about the amount of time it takes to put together a digital newsletter. My answer is this: Yes, it takes time to learn to interact with a new tool. However, the investment in my learning AND in taking time to reflect on the process of learning in the classroom is absolutely worth it! Digital newsletters not only let us share with families, they guide our instruction. There are times when I see things captured in a photo or video that I had not noticed in real-time. Reflection makes us better learners, and better teachers. It is a win-win for everyone.
I use Seesaw to communicate all digital newsletters. I create a folder dedicated to all newsletters so that I can easily sort and access them throughout the year. Click any of the links below to view sample newsletters.
Adobe Spark Page Learning About Butterflies
Eric Carle Author Study Preparation
Kid-Created Mother's Day Newsletter
Culminating Experience for Shared Writing
iMovie Trailer Anticipatory Set for New Unit of Study
Animato Collaborative Cross-Grade Level Newsletter
Stupeflix Video to Communicate Thematic/Shared Reading Experiences
Using Buncee and Book Creator to Prepare for the Upcoming Week
Stay tuned for more detail on how to create digital newsletters for your classroom! In the meantime, choose one and PLAY! Remember the importance of playing for grown ups, and learning alongside your children. Kids are most excited to try something new when I tell them we are discovering how it works together!
Heart & Soul,