14 Comments

  1. I was very excited to read this post of yours, as I not only manage my own Grade 1 website along with multiple blogs, but I also manage our school website. Last year, I completely redid our website, and with these updates, we tried to change the way that we communicated with parents. In the past, I always sent out weekly e-mails to all of the parents in the school with important updates, and then I linked these updates to our school website. When the new website was up and running, I sent out an e-mail letting parents know this, and telling them that the regular e-mails would be replaced by regular website updates. In other words, just keep on checking. The issue was that no one ever did: they wanted the e-mails. So, reluctantly, I went back to this e-mail system and just linked everything to the new school website. I would love to make this website more powerful though, and I think that you have a great plan to do so.

    That being said, I guess that my school website experiences leave me with some questions for you:

    1) How are you going to get parents on board to regularly checking the website? The RSS Feed is a great idea, but will all parents subscribe? Do they all know about RSS Feeds? I know that RSS Feeds are still something that mystify me.

    2) How are you going to ensure that there are regular updates? Will there be minimal update requirements from all staff and students? I've found that if website content isn't updated within a week, people lose interest. I know that I'm in charge of the content on my own website, but not the content on the school one. This was always an issue, as sometimes I didn't get regular updates from others.

    3) Who is going to be in charge of updating the school content? Will all teachers do this individually, or will you do the main page content? It really is a huge job, and if you can share this responsibility, it's great!

    I think what you're doing here is amazing, and I'm excited to see what happens with your new website. I'm sure that you'll continue to inspire me to try something new with mine too. Thanks for sharing all of your ideas with all of us!

    Aviva

    • George

      Thanks Aviva for your questions as they help to push my thinking and planning for this:

      1) How are you going to get parents on board to regularly checking the website? The RSS Feed is a great idea, but will all parents subscribe? Do they all know about RSS Feeds? I know that RSS Feeds are still something that mystify me. Great question! Since this will be a "community" blog, once I start getting more parents to see it, I will start sharing videos about RSS feeds and help them to connect with what is going on in school. I will also encourage them to sign up for gmail and just send them a bundle I create of the school blog, as well as the grade blogs. This is a way for them to get to know the other teachers before their kids have them (community building).

      I also plan to do some parent sessions on little things such as RSS feed, twitter, etc. Short 30 minute sessions over the school year since they should be connected to help guide their kids.

      2) How are you going to ensure that there are regular updates? Will there be minimal update requirements from all staff and students? I’ve found that if website content isn’t updated within a week, people lose interest. I know that I’m in charge of the content on my own website, but not the content on the school one. This was always an issue, as sometimes I didn’t get regular updates from others. This is ultimately up to the teachers. The main site will have a post at least twice a week, between my AP and myself. Since we have double grades, the grades will have a blog. For example, we have two grade 1 classes but there were only be one grade 1 blog. They will both be authors on the site. This way it is easier to update between 2 people instead of 1. I am ultimately responsible for the site, but I am ensuring that others know how to run it in case I am not there.

      3) Who is going to be in charge of updating the school content? Will all teachers do this individually, or will you do the main page content? It really is a huge job, and if you can share this responsibility, it’s great! Main content is done by me, and teachers will each have their own grade sites. I think I answered the rest of this in the answer above.

      Does this make sense? Thoughts?

      • George, I think that you have a great system, and your answers were fantastic, as they also helped me too as I look at managing our school website. My only question for you is if you do run some parent sessions on RSS Readers, would you be willing to Skype them? I would love to learn more about these Readers, and I'm sure that there are parents at my school who would too. I'm serious here with this Skype plan (especially if the times can somehow work), so please let me know if you think this would be a possibility.

        Thanks George for always being so willing to share! I really do learn a lot from you, and I know that others do too.

        Aviva

        • P.S. My reply should show you that I really do need to learn about RSS Feeds because I just called them Readers here.:) See, I'm back on the Google Reader thing … too much tech talk!:)

    • George

      Thanks Royan for your comment. It is rare because I think that too many of our plans as a school are too all over the place. I wrote a post on narrowing what we use. If we can concentrate our efforts as a school to a few areas, will we not deepen our learning and feel less "spread out" as a staff? I want my staff to feel comfortable yet provide opportunities for my students. Here is the link to a post I wrote earlier about focusing on a few things: http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/768

  2. Fabulous stuff, George. I'm a school Governor (volunteer, makes strategic decisions and is responsible for hiring the principal – not sure what the equivalent is in U.S.) and very occasional (three hours a week) teacher in a tiny rural primary (elementary) school in Suffolk, England. We're doing some good things on the tech front, but I am inspired by the learning dimension of what you've done. Can I email you to discuss this in more depth? I'm on http://scr.im/wvcpschool Thanks!

    • George

      Thanks for your comment Mark! I sent you an email today so hopefully you have received it.

  3. nice George.

    curious about the folio distinction for students. sorry if i've missed that… do you have a place where that is explained..

    also – i have a wondering about aups. wondering what you think of this http://tinyurl.com/23j92x7
    i know it's too simple. but why can't it be?

    thank you for pushing us all George. i love what you're doing here.

    • George

      Thanks for your comment Monika :) Basically the "folio" part would be similar to what I have on my own website. If you look at the top, I have different links to different topics and that is where students can share their different work in different areas. The blog is essential for the continuous reflection, but the other sites can be more specific to whatever needs to be shared in the "portfolio" portion. I hope that I am explaining that right.

    • George

      …and sorry…I pressed reply to quick.

      I think those are great AUP's to post in a classroom, but with our litigious society, I am not sure that they would hold up in a court of law. It is important that we still ensure that in the worst case scenario we have done our part to show responsibility as a school. As far as I know, our AUP's are looked at by lawyers to ensure that we have provided enough information to our parents and students.

  4. Joe (@jrsteach)

    George-

    I love that you are thinking about the vision of your website. I think some administrators/board of education think "you need a website because its part of the 21st century." However, with anything we are doing and trying to accomplish we must know, like you said, "the why." Why do I want this, what do I want to get out of it, etc. I did this same thing with my blog. It takes time and reflection. I found my answer (because it was all new to me) was just to give information to parents. As I move into the school year, I want to involve students and parents in parts of it because I want it interactive.

    I think it be awesome to see where the site leads and the end result. I look forward to seeing what happens with mine as it is a work in progress. As you tweeted earlier about a static website is just a product and a blogs promote learning. The sounds of it is that you want to promote learning with parents as a joint effort. Good luck with your endeavor!

    Joe

    • George

      Thanks Joe! We want more then a presence, we want a purpose. If we can get parents, students, and staff communicating with one another, we can do some amazing things!

      I appreciate your comment :)

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