Last year, when I first started toying around with technology in the classroom, I printed QR Codes on stickers for Back to School Night. The codes had all the information parents needed from me: email address, phone number, office hours, etc. I typed "Thanks for popping in!" next to the QR codes on the stickers, and placed them on uncooked popcorn bags. I blogged about that here.
Parents told me that they really liked it, which was great. However, I have really grown technology-wise in the last year, thanks to Philips Exeter, TMC, ISTE, and of course, MTBoS. So this year, I used a thinglink (if you don't know what this is, basically, you link sites or pictures or text to a spot on a picture that you download). I made two of them...one for all classes, introducing myself to parents, and one that had a picture of each particular class.
This year, when parents came in, I had this picture on the smart board:
NOTE: IT TAKES A SECOND TO LOAD...WAIT FOR THE LITTLE BUTTONS TO SHOW UP!
Slide your cursor over the picture, and it should show little icons that you can click on. Just in case, click here to see it live. It's very cool! First, I went to http://ipiccy.com/ and created a shadow picture of myself. Then I imported a beautiful picture of our campus behind me (see the rainbow?? Thanks to JSA for that pic). Then, through thinglink.com, I made questions about myself where when you touch most of them, things open up. (I got the shadow and puzzle idea from a blog years ago...I wish I knew whose it was!)
First, I did not realize how small the text was on this picture until right before the parents came in, so I made the parents come up to the smart board...and that was actually a highlight of the night. They were much more participatory. After we went through each thinglink and answered the riddles/math problems (the answer to the puzzle, btw is Back To School Night, just in case), I then put up a second one:
(Original link is here.) Keep in mind that the real picture had all the kids in it, but I took it out for blogging! Each thinglink that I touched had to do with my extra help hours, calcchat.com (which I love), the school website and google classroom, and then how I use visible random grouping, desmos.com, and goformative.com (all of which I blogged about here and here.) The parents truly loved seeing how things have changed in the classroom since they were students, and they were genuinely excited for their children. I love that you can link to text, a picture, or a website immediately. The 10 minutes were up before I knew it. Just keep in mind that you can get a free trial from Thinglink, but otherwise it costs $35 a year for educators.
I will definitely do this again next year, but by then, who knows what the latest technological sites will be? Or how much better will these sites? It's crazy to think how far I have gotten in just one year, but I promise you, it gets exponentially easier with time.
I just wanted to thank Heather at Global Math for finding my first Back to School Night blog and asking me to participate in a webinar next week. Unfortunately I can't, so I decided to write about it instead.