Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Resources for Managing your Message

A Few Words on Copyright and Fair Use

Even though educators often have some freedom in using different things for educational purposes, we must be respectful of copyright and adhere to the principles of fair use. Any original work produced by someone is protected under copyright.  Columbia University Libraries offers an excellent resource about copyright {here if you want to learn more about it.

Fair use offers educators the opportunity to share copyrighted material under certain conditions.  Learn more about Fair Use from Columbia University Libraries {here}. Before you use excerpts of material, popular songs, images, and videos for school or for communicating with the school community, I suggest that you use Columbia University's Fair Use Checklist to help you think through whether or not you are allowed to use that media.  You can find the direct link to the checklist {here}.

When possible, it is important to focus on searching for and using Creative Commons licensed mediaUnder a Creative Commons license, you can find material that is available to use, share and modify more freely, even though it is important to still give credit to the work. 

Basic Design Tools 

Use these tools to help create a variety of designs to use as your "brand" or share on your webpage, Smore, etc.
  • Canva - Online graphic design tool that you can use to create posters, presentations, blog graphics, Facebook images, Twitter posts and more.  Check out "Design School" if you need help getting started or want to brush up on some tricks.
  • Britannica Image Quest - Use our district's subscription to finds images that are safe to use/share/modify for school projects
  • Photos for Class - Excellent tool to locate Creative Commons licensed images, and it documents the source for you when you download the image.
  • Makerbook - free resources for you to use to find photos, videos, fonts, audio and more- collection

Social Media Tools

When you use Social Media be sure to adhere to your district's policies and choose a social media identity that can be consistent across platforms.


Before venturing into the world of social media, it's important to review your district's Responsible Use Policy (see page 2-3) and fill out any necessary paperwork to get permission to use the different sites.

For a great, overall social media in the classroom resource, check out Matt Davis's Edutopia post "Social Media for Teachers: Guides, Resources and Ideas".

Facebook Pages

Many of the parents we want to communicate information to are using Facebook.  This can be an effortless and engaging way to get your message out to families.

Create a Facebook Page, then share the link for families to "Like".  

Check out this overview handout of Facebook pages [here]. 

You can have multiple Facebook page administrators if you are collaborating with other teachers across the district and using the same page to disseminate information and you can manage the page through an app on your device.  Search Facebook Pages in your device's app store.


Twitter is an excellent way to communicate with not just parents but other educators for your own professional learning.  There are many resources available to help you use Twitter, and Edudemic's "Teacher's Guide to Twitter" is probably the best place to start. I've made an infographic with links [here] and a follow up [here].

I recommend creating two professional Twitter accounts: one for your class, and one for your own professional learning.

With your class account connect with other classrooms using Twitter to share learning.  I would caution against following parents or students on this Twitter account, although you want to promote the account so they follow you. Create common hashtags to share your ideas and make the work searchable. 

For your professional learning account, use that to participate in Twitter chats and to establish a Professional Learning Network (PLN)

When it comes to photos on either Twitter account, I would suggest being a little more cautions about sharing photos of students since this is a more open network, where anyone could end up seeing your posts.

Follow people on Twitter and search for hashtags that relate to your field.

Local and Specials Area Hashtags:
#KyEdChat - Kentucky Education Chat - happens every Thursday from 8-9pm est
#KyLChat - Kentucky Library Chat - happens 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 8-9 pm est during the school year
#KyAdmin - Kentucky Administrator chat - happens on Mondays at 7pm est
#musedchat - Music Education Chat
#elmused - Elementary Music Ed Chat - Tuesdays at 9pm est
#PSCchat - Principal - School Counselor Chat - happens Mondays at 8:30 pm est

To see a full list of chats that happen, click here for the Education Chats page.

Some Kentucky people to follow, who tweet often, to get you started in Twitter:
Heidi Neltner (me) - librarian, former English teacher, #KyLChat moderator, #KyEdChat guest moderator, #KyGoPlay co-creator, #EdCampNKY planner
James Allen - librarian, former Music teacher, KASL president elect, #KyLChat moderator, #KyEdchat guest moderator, #KyGoPlay co-creator, EdCampKY planner
Donnie Piercey - 5th grade teacher, technology integration specialist, Google Certified Teacher, #KyEdChat creator/moderator, #EdcampKY planner (and a bunch of other stuff)
Mike Paul - teacher, blogger, #KyEdChat guest moderator
Robin MeMe Ratliff - PE, #KyEdvolution
KATE - MU - Kentucky Academy of Technology Education
Sherry Powers - Librarian
Shelee Clark - Administrator
Brad Clark - teacher
Leanne Prater - Technology Integration Specialist
Tricia Shelton - Science Teacher
Adam Watson - District Technology Integration Coach 

And there are lots more...just ask and I can keep suggesting!

YouTube & Google Accounts

YouTube is obviously a great way to share and organize videos.  As teachers it's very important to take into consideration privacy of students, and to share content in a limited way. 

Check out Edudemic's "The Teachers Guide to Using YouTube in the Classroom" for some great tips on organizing content and for even using YouTube as an assessment tool by using YouTube videos with Google forms. 

YouTube is part of the Google Apps, so if you aren't a GAFE school,  I suggest you create a 'professional' Google account to keep track of all school related content.  

When you upload content to your YouTube channel in particular, I recommend that you make your content "Unlisted".  This way it is only viewable with a direct link, and other people can't stumble upon work that student's have done with a simple search.  

Check out this video by KATE for "Using YouTube in the Classroom"


You can use the Instagram app on your device to share photos with followers.  This might be a good way to share student projects and short videos with a growing number of Instagram users, and you can connect it to other forms of social media.  

Check out this "Educator's Guide to Instagram and Other Photo Apps" for details about how to use the app.

If you choose to use Instagram, I would suggest that you set your account to private and that you approve only follower requests of parents.  I would also strongly advise that you do not follow parents or students on this app, as you can't be sure what they will be posting.  If you choose to follow anyone using your professional account, it should only be other educational institutions. The app is intended for an audience of 13 or older, but many of our students are using it, and they may not be practicing good digital citizenship skills.

The Instagram website gives some excellent directions for how to control your visibility on the network.  Click [here] for directions.

Content Creation Tools


Smore is a described as an online newsletter service, but functions to an extent as an easy to use drag and drop webpage maker.  It is extremely user friendly and easy to share on social media, through email, and it can be embedded on websites and blogs. 

You can create up to five Smores for free a year, and earn more through sharing the service; however, you think you would use the service more often, the educator pricing is very reasonable. 

One of the nice things about Smore is that you can check the flyer statistics to get an idea of how well you are reaching your audience.  You can check the statistics to see how long "visitors" are staying the page and check to see if they follow links that you share.  This will give you an idea if you message is meeting the needs of your audience. 


You can create infographics to share with students, parents and colleagues using services like Piktochart.  Piktochart is a decent infographic service that allows you to use a few templates for free that offer some flexibility, as well as the ability to create your ownInfographics are a great way to share complex information in a visual way.  They offer some flexibility in that Piktochart can be downloaded as a file, embedded in websites and blogs and they can be directly shared as a link.  

Check out Kathy Shrock's Guide "Infographics As a Creative Assessment" page for some more information.  For some ideas for how to use infographics in the classroom, check out "14 Useful Infographics for Teachers" ideas from Piktochart.

Choose What Works For You

There are many ways that you can communicate your message to your stakeholders.  Don't feel pressured to use everything all at once (or at all).  Choose the tools and combinations of tools that work for you and your stakeholders.

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