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Digital Classroom Newsletters: Tips for Engaging Students and Their Grownups

Digital Classroom Newsletters: Tips for Engaging Students and Their Grownups

This is a guest post written by Edmentum Educator Network member, Troy Minton, a Virtual Social Studies Teacher/Mentor Teacher. 

Newsletters can be a very effective tool for getting quick and engaging information to students and their families, whether you teach online or in the physical classroom. Class newsletters can also be a quick and visually pleasing way for parents and guardians to stay informed on class activities and keep student supporters in the loop about grade level expectations, all the while building the essential communication lines. It allows supporters to ask specific questions about events happening in their child’s classroom more so than a simple question like “how was class?” would.

There are several free tools or versions that are available to educators that provide me a quick and effective method of getting information to students in an engaging and visually pleasing format. Let’s take a look at why a digital newsletter can be handy, and a few ways you can make sure to get the most out of yours.

Why digital?

With comments, likes, or ratings, a digital newsletter can be interactive, resulting in a lively experience for readers and highly relevant feedback for educators. An online newsletter can explore new types of timely, topical content, such as stories about upcoming class events or pictures from a recent lesson or shindig. Stories are more relevant to an audience when they are local and timely.

Another benefit to a digital newsletter over other formats is that it reaches most of its readership where they get a majority of their news and information: on mobile devices.

Digital also allows an adaptable level of detail provided by an online experience. Readers can quickly scan a wide variety of content and decide whether or not to dig deeper. Links to assignments, instructional or inspirational videos, photo albums, and/or shared resources are accessible in digital format, unlike traditional PDF or hard copy newsletters.

Inside my newsletter

What you include in your classroom newsletter is totally up to you, and should fit the unique needs of your class. Still, there are a few things that make for good additions in general. For example, educators can include a brief description of what students are working on. This allows for the option of front-loaded support from parents. However this also assumes that all students are working on the same material. Working with a digital newsletter can allow for individualization and grouping, or you can keep your newsletter more cultural based and higher level without getting into the detailed content.

You can also use your newsletter to touch on topics that the supporter for the student can target, like reading to or with their student, upcoming events or important dates, available resources, and how to reach you with questions. Including a list of links to important websites, like where students can access any online learning tools or text books, is also handy.

Analytics

This is a cool feature that many digital newsletters provide that allows you to see how wide of an audience your newsletter is reaching. This may be less important to you if you are teaching in a building in a particular district as opposed to students online in various regions across the country. However, metrics can demonstrate a topic's importance—making its strengths and weaknesses clear—and they help you to understand the interests of your students.

And most importantly, having numbers at hand will give you valuable evidence to support your concrete actions. What needs to be reviewed, what should or could be expanded on in the classroom and the interest of your students in a topic.

Metrics is nice for seeing peak times for the views that you are receiving. This can help you determine when is the best time to send out your newsletter, so you can make sure it’s reaching people in time for any important reminders.

While the idea of instant communication isn’t new, the reality of its meaning has changed because of the hyperconnected lives we live today, where so much is happening all at once. Communicators constantly strive for greater reach because reach means relevance. Your aim should be to include and engage all of your students and their supporters.

Looking for an engaging newsletter with great tools and graphics to get information to your students? There are many free, almost free resources like SMORE, the one I use, or some others (with no recommendation here or experience with but simply a google search and conversations with other teachers) ConvertKit, ClassDojo, and ClassTag. Or, if a website is more your speed, check out this blog for tips on building your classroom website!

Interested in learning more about the Edmentum Educator Network? Get the details and join our community today!

Troy.Minton@edmentum.com's picture
Troy Minton

Troy Minton is a longtime educator with more than 25 years of experience. He is currently a Virtual Social Studies Teacher/ Mentor Teacher with EdOptions Academy and a member of the Edmentum Educator Network.