Connecting your classroom and students with their parents and homes provides incredible benefits for the students. By kicking off the school year by having kids create a classroom tour to share at home, you are helping students take ownership of their class, have pride as they share it with family and friends, and it fosters communications between the school and home, which provides incredible benefits for the child. Plus, making virtual classroom tours is a fun back to school STEM project!
BACK TO SCHOOL STEM ACTIVITY – VIRTUAL CLASSROOM TOUR
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Fostering communication and connections between the classroom and home
Has your school made communicating with parents and families a priority? Do you wish you could strengthen your school to home connection? Providing a strong connection for children between the school and home is one of the best ways you can support children and build their confidence. One idea that may help you do so would be to have students create a virtual tour of their classroom!
This type of STEM project may look very different depending on your students and their families. You may be working with a population of parents and families that simply can’t take time off to come to school. Or maybe you are working with a population that does or does not have access to internet services at home. You may also be working with a population that is clamoring for more technology integration in the classroom and at home. No matter your connection needs, there is a way to make a virtual classroom tour work for you, your families and most of all your students!
Finding the Perfect Back to School Tour STEM Project
Let’s start with a few basic questions to think about – you can work your way through these to find what feels like the best fit for you and your students.
- Does your school have internet access?
- Do your students and families have internet access at home?
- Do your families have access to a device that can make use of iOS or Android Apps?
- Is email readily available to parents and do they check it regularly?
- Do you have devices in the classroom? If so, how many? If not – can you use shared school devices?
The reasoning behind those questions is to get teachers thinking about connections and how that might look. If you send out an email expecting parents to get it, but parents don’t have a way to check their email, they obviously are not getting that information. If you share a video on an app, and the families don’t have an app-based device, they will not be seeing it. Knowing your audience is crucial when it comes to creating a successful virtual classroom tour. Here are some options to think about.
Options for families that don’t have access to the internet
If you can get permission, have students take pictures of their classroom to share with their families. You can print them on pretty much any printer, or send them off to one of many photo processing sites to be printed. Have students work on their map skills by drawing a map of their classroom and gluing the pictures of items in the corresponding place on the map.
Bonus idea – Have students create a 3D classroom out of folded and glued construction paper. Make the “wall” big enough to glue a picture on to, then do so! Your student can take home a 3D replica of their classroom to show their parents and families.
Options for families who have access to and can check email regularly
You have several more options here. Students can create a video tour with a script and tour guide. The creative writing opportunities are endless, and if you have a student in class who is a budding actor or game show host, put them in front of the camera!
Another option would be to have students take still pictures, and put them into a video creation software like iMovie or Clips. Students could then record themselves talking the watcher through the video, and explain the different parts of the classroom.
Lastly, students could take still images and put them in a PowerPoint or slides presentation, complete with speaker notes. Their “homework” could then be to go home and find one person at home to present to. All of these ideas could be sent through email. Whether you choose a video, still images or a presentation, your students will be learning valuable skills, and your families will feel more connected to their student’s classroom!
Options for families who have access to app-based devices
There are several apps that facilitate the school-to-home connection. Seesaw and Class Dojo are two of the biggest right now, but there are plenty more out there. Find one you like, and stick with it! The neat thing about using an app is that you could have students do a live video from inside an app. In Seesaw, students can simply tap on the video feature and begin recording. Once they are done, the post uploads right away, and parents can see it once the teacher approves the post. Apps give parents a type of connection that they simply can’t get via email. The simplicity of uploading student work using an app just can’t be rivaled.
Kicking off the School Year with STEM
Whether you are using an old camera and letting students take still images of your classroom, or creating a guided video tour, anything you can do to help your families better understand the classroom will help to improve the connections between school and home.
Creating a virtual tour, no matter which approach you take, is also an exceptional way to incorporate STEM into your back to school activities. Have students make a list of “essential areas” in the classroom to cover, and use that list as a guide. If nothing else, have FUN with this! Let yourself see your classroom through the eyes of your students. You never know! Maybe this will turn into a year-long video diary about the changes in the classroom and students?
How do you plan to have students create a virtual tour of their classroom? We love to see their creations. If you share on social media, make sure you tag STEAM Powered Family so we can be inspired by their creativity!