By Karen Bantuveris, Founder & CEO, VolunteerSpot.com
Remember when the only classroom tools a teacher had were an eraser and a piece of chalk? Now both teachers and parents have a wide selection of high-tech tools that not only save time, but make communicating and organizing a snap. Here are a few easy-to-use websites that will help get the school year off to a great start:
ClassWish.org helps rally parents and your social network to purchase much-needed classroom supplies or fund resources your school can’t afford. Teachers or parents can set up an online “wish list” and invite donations via email or Facebook.
DonorsChoose.org is an online charity that funds projects for low-income schools. Teachers make specific requests (think art supplies, band instruments, or science equipment) and anyone can choose a project and contribute.
VolunteerSpot.com saves time and gets more parents involved at school with online sign-up sheets. Volunteering for parties, reading to the class, or carnival jobs is made easier when parents can quickly choose their spots online. Plus an automated reminder message makes sure everyone keeps their commitments.
WePay.com makes collecting money from your class -- for teacher gifts, field trips, parties, and more -- super easy. No more tracking down parents to pitch in, or just giving up and paying yourself.
Group websites, including Schoology.com, Big Tent and Facebook groups improve collaboration among parents and teachers and keep everyone up-to-date about what’s happening at school.
Twitter can be used by teachers or parents leaders to send classroom alerts to parents in a closed group. Callvine, an iPhone app, lets you call or text all parents simultaneously -- think important homework or event happenings, or news about field trip or carpool delays.
Photo-sharing sites like Shutterfly.com and Flickr.com have private group options to share class memories and make holiday or end-of-year scrapbooks and keepsakes.
BiddingforGood.com takes the traditional school auction and puts it online (and on steroids) so even more parents and extended family can participate in important fundraisers.
As you head back to school this year, remember to ask your teachers about the technology they’re using in the classroom so you can see how your hard-earned fundraising money is being put to use as well as how it’s benefitting your children.
High tech tools will make life easier for both teachers and parents, so as this school year ramps up, grab your laptop, your smartphone or your iPad and start clicking away. You’ll be glad you did.
About the author:
Karen Bantuveris is the founder & CEO of VolunteerSpot, a time and sanity-saving online coordination tool that empowers busy parents, teachers and grassroots community leaders by making it easier get involved. Frustrated by the ‘little things’ that often prevent parents from participating at school (“reply-all” email overload, disorganized clipboard signup sheets, and constant phone-tag), Karen launched VolunteerSpot in 2009 to simplify the volunteer experience. VolunteerSpot has quickly grown mom-to-mom and group-to-group, boosting turnout with more than a quarter-million users nationwide. Karen is passionate about increasing parent participation in schools, engaging parents to fund education technology, and using new media tools to inspire social action in the ‘real’ world. Karen lives in Austin, TX with her husband and daughter.