Wired for engagement – the Schoolwires blog

K-12 teacher web pages: The key to engaging families outside the classroom

Posted by Debbora Woods on 3/12/15 9:00 AM


When Cabarrus County Schools’ (NC) website vendor went out of business, the K-12 district was prompted to look for another provider and joined the Schoolwires family. During the transition, the district created Board policies and administrative guidelines for school and teacher websites. In order to maintain quality control, safety, and security of information and also ensure efficient, up-to-date school-home communications, teachers must maintain web pages within their schools’ websites. Their web pages include a welcome page, teacher picture and contact information, calendar, course syllabus, handouts and notes, and photos of events and activities.

Recently, we noticed activity in social media around the teacher web pages of Ms. Sloane Wood, music teacher at Cox Mill Elementary in the Cabarrus district. She is going beyond the district's teacher web page minimums and really using her pages to engage and connect with her different audiences she serves. When asked who her different audiences were, Sloane replied, “My main audiences that I appeal to with content on my website are students, families, and my peer teachers. And each audience requires different content, in different formats, that is relevant to them.”

So, of course, we needed to learn more! We collaborated with Sloane to write about her family engagement goals and tactics. We learned her challenges:

  • Provide good customer service to students and families
  • Be a responsible citizen
  • Preserve what students have created
  • Incentivize good student behavior
  • Archive years of teacher work
  • Integrate music curriculum with other teachers' curriculum
  • Share education and professional training with peers

If you want to explore the solutions Schoolwires was able to provide, and discover her outstanding results, you'll definitely want to read Sloane's success story -- Teacher web pages: The key to engaging families outside the classroom.

Want your students more engaged?

Do your parents feel knowledgable and involved?

Are your school-to-home communications efficient and effective?

This story has the tips you need!

Download your copy today!


Topics: School-to-Home Communication, Teacher Web Pages, Family Engagement

Communications mix meets K-12 parents' expectations for information 'here and now'

Posted by Debbora Woods on 9/25/14 9:30 AM


Today’s digital parents have a common expectation. “It’s all about getting communications here and now. We’ve evolved from a culture of being patient to one of expecting information to reach us where we are right now and when we need it,” said Steven Anderson, former director of instructional technology at Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

However, the form of K-12 communications that parents want is varied. Some parents prefer videos; others gravitate to article postings, and others opt in for automated phone or text messages. That’s why Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools uses the many digital tools within its Schoolwires® Centricity2™ website and CMS to communicate with parents and engage them more in their child’s education. These include:

  • Teacher Web pages – every one of the district’s 4,000 teachers has a Web page to give parents a look inside the classroom walls.
  • District website – provides access to a broad range of information and resources to deepen parents’ understanding of school and district challenges and successes, and demonstrates transparency
  • Mobile access –the Schoolwires Web app lets parents view information and resources on the district website from their smartphones

“Winston-Salem/Forsyth county schools delivers information in different formats to meet the preferences of its large and varied parent base. We live in an information consumption culture, and the Schoolwires platform makes it easy for us to deliver information in a way that meets the expectations of our digital parents" – Steven Anderson

Read the entire article to learn the details of their success.

Topics: K-12, Teacher Web Pages, District Websites, Centricity2

A K-12 student’s perspective: Website user experience

Posted by Debbora Woods on 9/16/14 9:00 AM


Guest Blogger: Destiny W., High School Junior

My mom and I were chatting last weekend about how my high school has really improved their teachers' school-to-home communications. Then she asked me if I would write a short blog post from a student's perspective about my experiences. So, here goes...

As a junior in high school, I’ve come to the realization that the "easy way" does not always mean better outcomes, but it sure does when you're talking about user friendliness on websites.

From personal experience, I can attest to the statement that one website that has everything we students – and our parents - need, including teacher lecture videos, planbooks, assignments, and homework submission is the best route to travel (and the easier way). This is for a couple of logical reasons:

  1. Having everything needed by teachers, students, and parents on one website avoids the frustration of trying to memorize multiple URLs, multiple logins and passwords, and posting to multiple sites. Talk about a fractured and frustrating user experience. Been there, done that last year – and hated it! I had seven classes with seven different websites to check each night. Sometimes I missed assignments, which didn't go over well. And my mom had to write down seven different URLs and logins on a sheet of paper she kept next to our keyboard. I know, it wasn't safe at all, but it was better than forgetting all of them!
  2. Accessing everything needed in one central location, from lecture videos to homework assignments and the class calendar of events is a huge convenience factor. This year, my school's one-stop-hub makes everyone’s lives much easier! My classes each have their own teacher web pages linked to our school website. They provide critical information families need, such as links to grades, forms needing signed, dates for upcoming tests, and resources for studying. Now, I don’t miss any assignments or updates, and my mom can stay in the loop with what's happening in my classes. How easy is that?

We’re all busy and it feels like life is pulling us in multiple directions all at one time. When our schools provide one-stop websites to access the information we need, when we need it, then we all win!

Want to learn how Schoolwires provides one-stop communication hubs for your K-12 districts?

Learn About Centricity2

Topics: School-to-Home Communication, School Websites, Teacher Web Pages, District Websites

Whip up a party on your teacher web pages with APPetizers

Posted by Debbora Woods on 8/12/14 9:00 AM


I can't believe we're already focusing on back-to-school events for the new 2014-15 school year! Where did the summer fly so fast?

As teachers are getting their Centricity2 teacher website content updated for parents and students, our self-service resources team has been providing fantastic information in an exciting new format called "APPetizers." Tips, ideas, and best practices are laid out in fun recipe cards that give teachers step-by-step instructions to make their Web pages shine with that "WOW!" factor. And, they provide screen shots so teachers know what the final product should look like.

Here's the latest post you can find on our Share Site:

Do you find your page content stewing in the same old apps? Are you fricasseeing your visitors’ minds with way too much content in a single app? Are your tables too flaky? Not sure what to do? No worries—we can help you render amazing pages with Schoolwires APPetizers! Each APPetizer highlights a Schoolwires app. It includes ingredients, directions and flavor enhancers you’ll use to serve up pages that visitors will drool over!

This week we are featuring the "About Teacher," "Heading," "Content," and "Image" apps. Want to make those teacher Web pages shine? Click here to read more >>

New APPetizers are provided every few weeks. Be sure to visit the Bon APPetit Gallery for previously featured ones!

Topics: Teacher Web Pages, Centricity2

6 summer cleaning tips for your K-12 websites.

Posted by Debbora Woods on 7/31/14 9:00 AM


I can't believe the new 2014/15 school year is already upon us! As you clean your buildings, set up your teacher classrooms, and prepare for students' return, don't forget to update your district, school, and teacher websites too!

Here are a few tips we've heard from your peers about how they clean up their K-12 website and school websites that you might find helpful:

  1. Make it easy for families to find your location. Ensure your address, phone number, email address, map, and directions are all updated and accurate.
  2. Update your staff directory. Oftentimes, summer is when new staff members join the team and others retire or move to different opportunities. Make sure staff names, titles, locations, and contact information are up-to-date.
  3. Share important upcoming events. On your district calendar, make sure you have events such as first day of school, standardized testing, and board meetings listed. On your school calendars list orientation days, PTO meetings, Parent-Teacher-Student conferences, sporting events, and music performances. On your teacher page calendars, keep students and parents informed of field trips, volunteer opportunities, and curriculum test dates.
  4. Ensure links aren't broken. It can be frustrating to parents and students accessing resources on your pages if the links are broken. Make sure all links are working correctly.
  5. Update downloadable documents. The first part of the year seems to be the time that information home is at an all-time high! Make sure those student/parent handbooks, class curricula, sports physical forms, etc. are all up-to-date and can be easily downloaded.
  6. Venturing into the social space? Make sure your Twitter and Facebook feeds show up on your website. Afterall, your website should be your communities' one-stop hub for communication.

Of course, there are many more ideas that I could list, but I'd rather hear from you the best practices you use to update your district, school, and teacher web pages. Reply to this post with some other ideas for your peers - let's share!

To learn about other Schoolwires clients' successes with their websites, read their stories here>>

P.S. Happy cleaning!

Topics: K-12, School Websites, Teacher Web Pages, District Websites

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