At Lewis Elementary School we are using a weblog to publish a weekly publication we call Classroom Notes. The idea is to utilize the weblog interface to make it relatively easy for teachers to publish timely information about their classrooms. By using weblog software, we also provide our teachers with an easy web presence. Note: At Lewis we are using Moveable Type to publish our newsletter, but this should work with any weblog software that allows for multiple authors...
Here's how it works. Each Monday during the school year, I provide teachers with 20 minutes during our staff meeting time, where they can write their weekly post. These posts deal with things such as upcoming field trips, curriculum updates and announcements. The idea is to provide families with 2 - 3 paragraphs of information each week. We created a multi-author weblog called Classroom Notes. We also edited the basic index.html page so that the most recent post by each teacher is displayed on that page. For example, if you were to visit the Classroom Notes page now, you would see that the most recent post by our kindergarten teacher is listed at the top, followed other posts in grade level order down the web page. In addition we use the category feature of Moveable Type to create separate category pages which in effect are individual teacher pages containing a chronological archive of all that particular teacher's posts.
While many in our school community utilize the web, not all of our families have access to this information, so in addition the web site, each Wednesday we "harvest" the most recent entries and publish them each week in a two sided newsletter. This goes home in addition to a more general school newsletter each week. The way this works is that on Tuesday afternoon myself or our school secretary will copy the most recent posts from the Classroom Notes page and paste them into a Microsoft Word template, which we then format and if space allows add a few pictures and then print for distribution on Wednesday.
The feedback from our community has been very positive. Many parents often wonder about the curriculum and activities of upcoming grade levels and our Classroom Notes provides them with a weekly window into the work taking place in all of our classroom.
Note: One feature I plan to add for the next school year is to incorporate a Moveable Type plug-in called Workflow that will allow teachers to post their weekly news, but the news won't go live to the web site until it has been edited by myself of another designated editor.
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