Toolbox JuneThe work that education professionals do inside of a school extends well beyond classroom instruction. Every adult in the school building teaches, even if it’s just in the brief interactions we have with our students in the halls, but we don’t always do it in the same way. Nurses teach. Bus drivers teach. Library media specialists teach too.

But some of us don’t have the advantage of seeing the same students frequently. Or we have so many students that making a personal connection with each and every one can be quite a challenge. I’m talking about the physical education teachers, the child study team and guidance counselors, custodial staff and information technology staff. We don’t always get to see the same students regularly, yet we all still make a significant contribution to their learning environment.

One way that I have approached this challenge is through a free program called RebelMouse, which can be used alone or embedded in a website. It allows me to communicate with all of my students, teachers and parents quickly and easily.

RebelMouse allows you to curate and publish from anywhere: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, RSS feeds, your original content, and more! You can then take that content and publish to webpages, apps, email, and social platforms.

Even better, readers can subscribe to your content and receive email digests of updates.

The possibilities are endless

All of this tech speak means that RebelMouse saves you a lot of time. You can post something to Twitter and it will appear on your website. You can blog about a homework assignment and your parents will receive it via email. You can use a specific hashtag on Instagram and be sure that your supervisor gets that artifact. RebelMouse streamlines all of your social media, effectively turning your public 1.0 website into a 2.0 hub of interactivity and relevant content.

I can see nurses using RebelMouse to share the latest in health policies and procedures with students, staff and parents; athletic departments sharing their latest victories; math teachers sharing flipped classroom videos; or students using RebelMouse to share resource choices with an English teacher for assessment.

As a Library media specialist, I use RebelMouse most for research projects with my students. When conducting research, students in our high school can get information virtually from many locations “in” the library media center. They can search our databases, our books or other online aggregate locations.

Using RebelMouse, I can provide students access to all of our resources in a one-stop-shopping experience right on the front of my site. This allows the teacher and me to tailor how much—or how little—support the students need. Some developing learners will need everything spelled out with direct links to each and every resource, while other learners will need the challenge of broader resources, creating a focus on topic distillation. Either way, all students find the information in the same place, and it’s accessible 24/7/365. And, of course, students can be notified if new resources are added.

With a RebelMouse account, you have a lot of control over what content is shown, how it is shown, and how often it rotates out. For research projects, I can “freeze” content until I remove it or have it automatically cycle in or out on a specific date. I also often freeze information about current school events or for the latest articles of the school newspaper. The free layout and color options within RebelMouse are also generous, with many more customizable features available if you choose to upgrade.

Another great way I use RebelMouse is to communicate with my school community at large. As a library media specialist, I often come across information that would be of use to my colleagues, administrators or parents. If they are signed up on RebelMouse, they will always get the latest information that I post with no extra work on my part. And they can unsubscribe themselves at any time.

And finally, RebelMouse also makes your website look constantly updated, even if you never actually change a thing on your site. For school professionals that need to keep an updated site, in short, RebelMouse will make you look really good.

Carina Gonzalez is a high school Library Media Specialist at Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville. 

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