Review by Sandy Wisneski, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2019
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TalkingPoints

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Multilingual texting tool enhances school-to-home communication

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Pre-K–12
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Pros: Automatic translation and excellent user support allow teachers to communicate with families easily.

Cons: Some delays in message delivery; grammatical and spelling errors might affect translation.

Bottom Line: Easy-to-use tool for supporting communication and engagement with families in 100+ languages.

Use TalkingPoints to inform families about student progress without worrying about language barriers. Send photos or videos of daily classroom activities, promoting positive learning experiences. Invite stakeholders to volunteer or become involved in classroom activities with open communication. Take a poll to gain valuable information about event dates, conference times, or class parties. Make all families feel welcomed and valued by communicating effectively. Be sure to ask parents about their preferred language communication and realize that messages and tone aren't always translated the way you intend.

Although the app interface is clean, the initial setup on the desktop is recommended for ease of use. Also, something to be aware of is a lag that may occur between when messages are sent and when families receive them due to the translation process. Teachers have the option of adding users manually, via a spreadsheet, or with a class code. Families also have options to receive messages through SMS or the mobile app. Printable instructions are available to be sent home with students.

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TalkingPoints is a messaging app that allows teachers to communicate in families' home languages via their phones or internet-connected devices. Teachers can add recipients by creating a spreadsheet that includes name, student's name, phone number, and home language. Teachers must have accounts tied to email addresses, but parent or guardian participation is voluntary, and parents can opt out at any time. Families have the option to receive messages via SMS or mobile app. Once a teacher sets up the initial list, TalkingPoints will use an app-generated phone number to send an introductory message to each family explaining the purpose of the tool. From there, teachers can schedule or immediately send messages in their language, and families will automatically receive it in their home language. Parents can type responses in their home language, and teachers will receive a translated version with an option to receive notifications.

Teachers can send messages to individuals, a group, or a class. Photos and videos can be included, personalizing the message and connecting families to the classroom. Polls can also be easily conducted, allowing families to share information. Setup is intuitive, but there's also a help chat option and a resources page of FAQs.

TalkingPoints allows teachers to communicate with and get feedback from families without worrying about a potential language barrier. This can be especially helpful for younger students, who may not be able to effectively communicate, or for older students who fail to share events and deadlines with their parents. TalkingPoints also lets teachers create polls, allowing valuable feedback on any number of classroom-related issues. Teachers can use this information to plan events or upcoming classroom activities. This app allows teachers to invite families who might otherwise feel excluded to participate in the conversation and effectively engage with their kids. TalkingPoints is a positive move toward welcoming families into the classroom.

TalkingPoints, like any tool that uses machine translation, is bound to send text messages with errors. Bilingual parents and educators could benefit from an option to see, and edit, the translated message before it goes out. Also, it would be nice if families could see -- in addition to the translation -- the original text in the teacher's preferred language, which could help with language learning. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

While there's nothing particularly flashy about the tool, it offers families the opportunity to be involved and communicate simply in native languages.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Promotes communication and parent-teacher partnership opportunities vital to a student's success. Lack of options to see original translations might be missed opportunities for learning.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Intuitive setup, tutorials, and message support will have teachers sending and receiving messages in no time. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Sandy Wisneski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Katy K. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Brentwood Borough School District
Pittsburgh, United States
Effective parent engagement tool for ELLs
The app is great for sending quick reminders or photos of forms/homework with a decently translated explanation.
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