Foster a supportive and responsive classroom environment with digital learning tools that bolster student engagement.
In a previous blog post, we explored how educators can use Brightspace to create learner-centered assessment. Now let’s look at how teachers can use Brightspace to help establish effective communication practices in the classroom.
Truly effective communication between you and your students can be magical in helping to build a stronger classroom community and advancing deep learning processes. But it should be more than just a way for you to notify or remind students of a learning activity, key information from school, or pending work.
As a teacher, you should be regularly implementing communication practices to demonstrate empathy and equity toward learners, build relationships with students and families, foster appropriate educational boundaries, help students create their own working space, and get to know learners in the initial days of school. Furthermore, as you cover complex learning concepts, effective communication practices can help you summarize them in a digestible format and build inclusive learning experiences for your students.
When building a cohesive class community, Brightspace tools like Activity Feed and Announcements can help you create diverse teaching avenues that foster teacher-to-student, student-to- teacher, and peer-to-peer communication. Activity Feed and Announcements work particularly well for just-in-time updates, planned curriculum activities, and strengthening collaboration in your classroom—tasks that traditionally relied on planners, agendas, and class bulletin boards in face-to-face environments.
Activity Feed works like an agenda or planner when you want to communicate quick updates with students and families. In essence, it’s an efficient communication tool you can use to share instant messages, reminders, resources, and assignments with your students. If you want to encourage student interaction, you can enable the comment section in Activity Feed so students can leave their own comments and ask questions. Don’t worry—you always have full control and can edit or delete comments!
Some common messages we’ve seen teachers share through the Activity Feed include ice-breaking questions in the initial days of school, reminders of items to bring for an activity, updates on experiments being conducted in the class, social-emotional engagement initiatives, and updates on snow days. Best of all, if you’re using the Brightspace for Parents tool, you can share these messages automatically with students’ designated parents or guardians.
You can also use Activity Feed to share quick links to existing learning activities within Brightspace to help students stay on track with their work and guide them along their learning journey. This can help younger learners more easily and independently navigate class activities and lessons, and can help you foster a learning environment where students take ownership of their work.
You can use the Announcements tool just like a bulletin board in your physical classroom. It provides a predictable, easily accessible location that can help support you as you share scheduled information such as weekly to-do lists and planned classroom announcements with your students.
Some common tasks we’ve seen teachers perform with Announcements include introducing a new concept with embedded videos or external links, revisiting a previous concept with supplemental information, sharing outstanding work by students, and providing updates on upcoming events such as reading marathons, science weeks, or festivals. And yes, you can save your announcements and reuse them year after year in your classroom—saving you both time and effort.
When you’re using Announcements, keep in mind that—unlike Activity Feed—you can only share information with students (not parents or guardians), and students cannot comment on your messages.
Bringing It All Together
As you think about using Activity Feed and Announcements in your classroom, it’s important to consider the relative strengths of each tool for the tasks you perform regularly.
Both tools are supported by the rich Brightspace Editor that gives you the option to personalize the font, include multimedia (embedded videos, audio, and images), and embed external and internal links to an existing activity—serving as doorways to all your online learning content.
Ultimately, the tool that will be most helpful will depend on your needs as well as those of your students. For example, if you’re looking to post a just-in-time announcement, Activity Feed will work best. Meanwhile, if you have a scheduled update on a learning concept or activity, Announcements may be more helpful. Some teachers choose to use only one tool, while others love to use both!
K-8 Tips and Tricks for Starting the School Year
Looking for more ways to improve your classroom management? Check out our webinar K-8 Tips and Tricks for Starting the School Year to discover time-saving tips and tricks that will help set you up for success this school year.
And don’t miss the other upcoming and recorded sessions in our K-12 Teaching and Learning webinar series.