We are going to block scheduling next year in our middle school, and many teachers will not be able to be present at a team meeting because of the new schedule.  How do you folks communicate about students if all teachers cannot be present?  What tools are used?

I wanted to create team blogs that would be private and we'd be careful about student names.  This way an absent teacher could subscribe to the RSS feed of the team blog, the blog is archived, and it is searchable.  Our admin was nervous about references to students online.

Any thoughts?  Thank you, very much!

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Can you assign numbers for the students to protect their identity.  Try EDMODO, its like a facebook.  If it will be a meeting and even if they are not physically present in one location, you can meet asynchronously, our professor uses fuzemeeting.  You have the ability to record it and only people who you sent the link too will have access.  It is an amazing collaboration tool.  

Thanks for the ideas, Maria.  I will check into them!

Google Docs would be a great tool.

Create shared Docs based on grade level, specific classes, etc and use them to record meeting notes, collaborate beyond the meetings and so on...

Hmmm...An interesting thought, Christopher.  I set up a Google Apps for Education account for our school a year ago.  I will talk to our administrators to see what they think.  Thanks for the ideas.

If you guess are a Google Apps school I think it's a no brainier.

We are a Google Apps school and our teachers update internal assessments, grades/levels, etc on Google Docs. It allows the administration to see how students are progressing without having to look through binders and have face-to-face meetings (we still do a lot of traditional meeting and what not but the shared Google Docs allow far greater real-time collaboration & updating)

I agree with Christopher... Google Docs is a fabulous, secure resource for synchronous collaboration. Good Luck!

Here are several web 2.0 tools you can use to create a place where you can all communicate in real time.  We use this for my team meetings - if we have one person gone due to internal subbing or sickness they can still be connected to the group.  There are lots of options to using these...you can download your content to Word, you could (if you wanted) have a different pad every week, etc.  I think once you look at this you'll get a better idea of how best to use this for your purposes.

http://piratepad.net

http://typewith.me

http://sync.in

Thank you, Darin, for your thoughts.  I will definitely look into these and discuss them with our admin as options!

Hello, Kathy.

It was very difficult for our staff to adjust to when we lost our team time.  We collaborate in the hallways and have to use our prep hours to discuss students.  However, some teachers will not use their prep time for things such as that, so not a lot of necessary collaborating takes place.  We have fewer parent meetings and grade-level activities due to lack of planning time. I guess you learn to adjust and not complain about it, as that does not do any good for anyone.  

In terms of the blog, I like the idea.  Using names would be a touchy area; however a brief description about your situation or incident with the student, and other staff members will most likely know who it is you are referring to.  Good luck.

Thank you, Laura.  It is good to know we are not alone in our communication issues.  I am trying to be proactive in finding some sort of tech tool that balances our needs with the security of the students.  I am reading more and more about schools using Google Docs for communication purposes. I started Google Apps for Educators for our school last year, so that would be a possibility.  I just need our admin to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision.  In the meantime, the ones that get hurt are the students.  So I won't give up!  Right now, we decided on using an Excel spreadsheet that will be stored in a shared folder for staff to access.  Better than nothing!

Hi Kathy,

Google Docs is what we use a lot here at Kingsford Middle School.  We Google Chrome about everything.  I works for us.  Our technology team and superintendent did the research and got us started on it at the end of last year.  Again, it takes time to do real-time chats and discussions, but if you still have a decent amount of prep time at the same time as the collegues you need to collaborate with, you can use it.  I read Darin's comments on the 21st.  His suggestions are good as well.  I do know that typewithme has some glitches and since anyone can access it at anytime, it can be hacked into.  I never had that happen to me, it is just what I have heard.  I only use it in my classes for student collaboration asynchronously .  I will look on my 21 Things for the 21st Centrury Teacher site and see if there is anything on there, as it is a course loaded with educational uses for technology for the 21st Century teacher and leaner.  I'll check back with you in a few days.   Have a great weekend.  Hopefully wherever you are it is not going to snow; there is a chance of it in our U.P. area of MI. 

Hi Laura,

I am a bit north of Chicago and have had a chilly, but sunny spring break.  Hope you stay warm!

Do you use Docs to discuss students?  So far I have used it as a tool for our students to use.  I am our computer teacher and help our staff integrate tech when they can.  A couple have had the students use docs collaboratively, but most of the teachers don't think about using it.  I gently remind them, but mostly teach my students about it and they remind the teachers :-)  That seems to be the best way so far. 

Thanks for looking things up for me.  I will continue to keep looking and keep discussing.  Who knows - maybe something new will be created and will answer all our problems!

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