As a parent, the wants and needs I have when it comes to my children’s education are important. I need to know my children are on track, that their social needs are being met, and that they are learning and growing as the year progresses. I want to catch a glimpse of how my children are doing. A constant stream of knowledge flowing to me allows me to feel like part of their educational experience.
I want to know how my children are doing, what is happening in their classroom, but it isn’t possible for me to donate my time during the school day. Remembering to check the teacher’s website for new information is also something I haven’t yet mastered consistently. I also struggle contacting teachers on their personal time, just to simply ask how my child is doing. I think I’m like many parents who assume that no news, is good news.
The wonderful thing about the world today is that technology can help build that digital bridge between school and home. There are many platforms that exist that allow teachers to stream information to parents with relative ease. This bridge can help increase parental engagement and improve student achievement.
Here are some wonderful ways teachers can begin to build their own digital bridges:
1. Class Websites
There are endless possibilities for the use of a class website. Announcements, curriculum expectations, file sharing and general information are just a few. Some teachers simply blog about the class happenings, others use it as a space to distribute important forms and information.
Classroom websites can be built using a variety of platforms depending on the skills of the user. Google sites, blogger, wordpress, edublog and glogster to name a few.
I suggest examining what types of websites or blogs your colleagues use and if possible, get them to give you their best recommendations to try. Otherwise, there are lots of tutorials you can find by simply googling “how to create a classroom website”!
Teachers create a class account at the www.remind.com website. Teachers then share the class code with students and parents. Students/Parents enroll by email or text message. This is a one way service, teachers share information, no personal contact information is shared, subscribers cannot respond to the messages.
As a teacher, it is simple to send out messages. Using the website or the app, users simply create a message and click send. The message is then delivered to the subscribers. Messages can also be scheduled for later, a great feature if you like to plan ahead.
Reminders for special events, permission forms, homework reminders, test dates or reminders to check the class website are all great ways to use the service, but the possibilities are endless.
Check out the possibilities of Remind here: https://www.remind.com/teachers
3. myBlueprint/Career Cruising
As students enter into the intermediate/senior grades in Ontario, it is now mandatory that they have an Individualized Pathway Plan that allows them to explore and reflect on their education and career life planning. In Ontario, the majority of boards have chosen to house these IPPs in either myBlueprint or Career Cruising.
In the LKDSB, students get accounts at www.myblueprint.ca. This service allows students to explore by completing assessments, goal setting, creating cover letters/resumes, high school planning, occupational planning, post secondary planning, financial planning and portfolio creation.
Students work hard from grade 7 – 12 exploring, tracking and potentially sharing their portfolio with others.
As a classroom teacher, these programs can help relate your subject area to career and life planning. If you are unsure how to use this program, or are looking for ways to incorporate it into your class, I would suggest first checking in with student services for assistance.
For a brief introductory video, please visit http://www.myblueprint.ca/introduction-to-education-planner/
A new and exciting possibility for tracking work habits and learning skills comes via www.edmettle.com A secure, social platform that allows teachers and students to award “mettles” to other students. Students see solid examples of the work habits and learning skills they demonstrate, and parents can gain access to the students accomplishments via email updates once they subscribe to the student’s account.
Although this program is still in beta mode, it has the potential to be a game changer. To request a preview, visit www.edmettle.com
Implementing change in your teaching practice can be scary, but if you haven’t taken the step to begin building digital bridges between school and home, start now with just one of the suggestions above. It won’t take long before you begin noticing the effects of increased parental engagement!