Easy Digital Newsletters with Smore

Today's guest post comes from Gypsy Mishoe, GCISD Instructional Coach.  You can follow Gypsy on Twitter @GypsyMishoe or on her blog http://gypsysvirtualvoyage.blogspot.com.  

Have you ever meticulously formatted a class newsletter and printed out your 174 copies only to discover you misspelled "Renaissance" and put the wrong date for the grade level NASA field trip? 
Have you ever spent 30 minutes in vain looking for the bright pink paper newletter your daughter brought home 7 days before that has all essential information needed to complete her regions of Texas project?

I know I have.  Smore is a digital tool that creates beautiful newsletters that are easy to access, easy to update, and easy to share.  Smore could have also prevented both of my sad tales above.  

You can create a Smore newsletter in under 5 minutes.  The results are polished, and the design tools gives you just enough options to customize to your liking without becoming overwhelming. You can include pictures, websites, links to projects, as well as basic information.  If I had utilized Smore to create my class newsletter, I would have emailed the link to my parent group, and each family would have a live link with the most up to date (and correctly spelled) information. You can also embed your Smore directly into your blog or website. The Smore site provides valuable information on how many people have viewed each newsletter.  

 As a parent, Smore newsletters are great because you cannot misplace them.  I have four kids at four different schools myself, and keeping up with the ins and outs of each campus is enough to drive me crazy.  Knowing there is a digital version safe in my mailbox provides some much needed peace of mind.  The Grapevine Middle School STEM team provides links to all their SMORE newsletters on their Schoolwires websites.  I think this is genius.  Everything is in one place.  Another benefit from the parent perspective is that the newsletter opens instantly and all the links are all clickable.  Often parents get pdf copies of newsletters and have to save the file to their own computer before they can open it up.  Research shows that the fewer clicks people have to go through, the more likely they are to read your information.  We are living in a digital world.  The full power of an online newsletter is caged when you package it as a non-interactive, one way mode of communication.   I read an interesting article by Georgy Cohen a few years back that said,  "You can't do print on the web.  You need to do web on the web, so your content can actually live and breathe out in the world."  Smore provides an easy way to do just that.  

Here are a few examples of ways you can use Smore in your classroom

1) For a lesson- I created this Smore for a professional learning session on differentiating for the gifted learner.  Smore can be a great alternative to a powerpoint.  The visuals can help drive discussion, and the links needed are all in one place.  The Smore can easily be shared via google classroom (or any other learning management system) so students have immediate access to all the resources.

2) For a project- Leigh Ballard, the 4th grade ASPIRE Academy teacher, and I teamed up to put this Smore together as a culminating project for her unit on Texas Independence.  It was a great way to take multiple different projects and put them all together.  This Smore houses a google tour, several Thinglinks, an interactive timeline, some videos, and several pieces of student writing. 

3) As a newsletter- Dr. Suzanne Newell put this newsletter together to provide teachers with access to all of the summer learning opportunities available this year.  Although all of this information can be located in other places, the power of this newsletter is that it brings the sources together in one place.