Happy New Year! It’s clean slate time! Time to clear the clutter, simplify and get organized once again. Let’s talk organization!
Today I want to share a nifty organizational tool that I use to help manage my work and life. I think it would be amazing for parent communication as well!
If you like making lists, Trello is for you. If you sometimes change your mind about what belongs on the list but you hate erasing or crumpling up your list and making a new list, Trello is for you. If you think it’s fun to color code things, and rearrange tasks as easily as if they were written on sticky notes, and access your lists from every device, and keep everything you need to accomplish a task all in the same place… Yep, you got it! Trello is for you!
Trello is an online collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. Each board is made up of lists. Each item on the list is a “card,” which is kind of like a sticky note that can be moved around to different lists or even to different boards. On each card, you can add text descriptions, checklists, images, files and more. You can color code each card if you want, and you can assign a due date to each card as well. You can choose to view the cards in list form, or you can see the cards with due dates in a calendar view. It’s a collaboration tool, so you can add other users to view and edit certain boards. But you can also just use it on your own, minus the collaboration.
Trello is amazing for lesson planning, organizing school-wide duties, managing and assessing student projects, and teaching students organizational strategies.
Aaaaand here are five superstar ways to use Trello for your parent communication command central:
- Collaborate with parents to plan large school events. Since Trello is collaborative, schools or teams can add multiple users, assign tasks and monitor progress in an easy-to-use interface. Google docs are good for collaboration too, but the clean and simple layout of Trello just makes my visual brain happier. I think it’s because you can add so much information without cluttering things up, which helps me stay focused and organized.
- Keep track of student goals and progress. Here is a post from the Trello blog about using it to set up New Year’s Resolutions. It could work in a similar way for goal setting with students. Add parents and other support staff as collaborators, or just use it on your own to plan for each child. This is also a great way to communicate about behavior or special learning plans.
- Add every parent in your class and use it to post homework assignments for the week or month. You can post reminders associated with each assignment, checklists to help kids make the most of their homework time, links to helpful videos or other resources, ideas for extension and differentiation, extra copies of the assignment in case someone’s dog eats it…
- Use it to create a parent volunteer calendar. Add classroom volunteers, dates and times. Post rules and reminders for volunteers. You could even add a checklist to each card, with the tasks the parent will be responsible for when he/she arrives.
- Make a classroom handbook. Post an overview of the year, schedules, specialist days, rules and procedures, helpful resources. Add anything you would include in your regular classroom handbook or website, plus videos, links and other helpful supplementary materials, all in one easy-to-navigate spot.
- Post your class newsletter. Here’s an example of how you could set it up. I think I like the MailChimp newsletter option better because it’s a bit more accessible, but if that one doesn’t work for you, this is a close runner-up!
A few more tips:
Before you jump in, start here for an overview. (affiliate link) This page walks you though everything you need to get going.
Obviously double check your privacy settings if you’re posting sensitive student information. I would probably use initials only, just to be extra careful.
The free version of Trello is all you’ll need, unless you plan to add large files. If you do need to upgrade, the “Gold” plan is still pretty reasonable and you get a few extra bells and whistles. Definitely start with the free version though!