1. Agreed. This is a HUGE area for us to be interested in. Our parents are becoming more and more disconnected from the learning their sons/daughters are doing in the classroom (and beyond), and for many families, the leap to 1:1 computing has only exacerbated this. We're about to trial a new program that we've named "Parents as Learners" (PaL). We're inviting four parents in for a day to "tag" a student (not their own) through their classes, and then be interviewed about their experiences, either using the Flips, Garageband, or a traditional interview (with the student taking notes). The "interviewer" will be a student who is in the class, who has been asked to observe the parent throughout the day, so that they can ask pertinent questions. We have allocated a staff-member to assist with this. The interviews will be published in our Newsletter, and in more detail on our website. In 2011, we hope to open it up and invite all parents to participate. It's not the complete answer, but it is one more step along the road. Staff and students are both excited about the prospect of the PaL visitors, and all it costs the school is some morning tea and lunch for the parents!

    • George

      This is very cool Kate! I am going to see if I can implement some of these ideas into our school this year. I really appreciate your comment!

  2. I love the idea of getting parents involved in the learning process, and I really applaud you for trying to do this here! In my classroom, I've videotaped Shared Reading Activities and uploaded them to our website. I've also had students use the webcam to record different presentations that they do and upload them to their own blogs.

    In Social Studies, the students were learning about Community Helpers, and each of them wrote a blog post to their parents asking them questions about community helpers. Parents could then respond to their blog post. This got the parents involved in a meaningful way, and it actually encouraged even more parents to reply to blog posts. The children were so excited when they got comments from their parents, and some of their parents, even got other relatives to comment too (including one relative from Turkey and one from Egypt … which was absolutely amazing)!

    For math homework each week, I also provided opportunities to respond to different questions using Twitter, blogs, Photopeach, Crocodoc, Glogster, Wallwisher, and other Web 2.0 tools that students can use with their parents. I've found that parents have learned a lot about these tools by having their students teach them.

    When we use different tools in class too (e.g., Twiducate, Edmodo, and Today'sMeet), I've written parents to tell them about what the students have done, and I've given parents the opportunity to go on with their children and add further points to the discussion. Then parents can be involved in the classroom discussion, and they can be doing this collaboratively with their children too.

    I hope that this helps, and I look forward to reading what other people do to involve parents!


  3. Kimberley Engler

    George this is so exciting! I would love to be able to know more of what happens in the classrooms, as most of the time all I hear is

    "Mom why do you always wanna know what I did today, I dont remember!"

    So whether I am looking at my kids blogs or the teachers blogs or some form of a classrom calendar online, I know I can be better informed than I am.

    I really like the Parents as Learners program! What a great way to open up the family and school community! Being introduced to social media(thank- you) has tremendously widened my horizons!The resources and possibilities are endless!

    In grade 2 Ethans class learned about a child in Inuvik and a child in Regina. I had asssumed that they had written letters back and forth,So tonight I asked Ethan if he remembered that, he did, but he said they had never exchanged letters that it was from a textbook.I was a bit shocked, and quickly remembered I should never assume things.So why not, as part of Social Studies we actually found students from different places and cultures throughout the year and do a video conference.(Pen pals so to speak via Skype)?

    Maybe it could be part of Cultural/Heritage days?

    I really hope that more parents get involved! I feel so fortunate to be able to be there for my kids! This initiative will help those parents that cant be there still be involved in their childrens education, and whats happening in their daily lives(blogs).

    What if once a week the kids agenda entry was tied into their blog?

    Parents would have an opportunity to then add comments and encouragement to their kids.

    I am looking forward to hearing what David Truss has to say at the Parent Council meeting! What an exciting time!


    • George

      Great comment Kim! I am glad you are getting into this 🙂 You are bang on with the Skype idea. I have been thinking about that for awhile and I have made a lot of connections. We are installing Skype on all the teacher computers in our school so they will all have access. I will be able to connect with teachers/people all over the world. What we really need to do now is take advantage of this!

      I am waiting for your blog 🙂

  4. Penny Lindballe

    "People who buy drills don't buy them because they want a drill, what they want is a hole."

    I read this marketing adage a long time ago and think of it often when I’m trying to design a program or evaluate services to offer. Too often I’m seeing programs and services that are drills looking for a hole .. or worse yet a drill when a nail needed to pounded!

    I think you are definitely on the right track, however do parents (aka people–I think that’s forgotten sometimes), really want to learn about social media? I would guess if you posed that question to 50 parents in your school the answer would most likely be no. However if you asked them if they wanted to be able to manage their family schedule more effectively, share photo’s easily with family and friends, manage their online connections, friend kids on FB without giving them access to their “adult” space, connect with overseas relatives, etc. you may get a better response. I’ll venture a guess that even you did not fully appreciate the relevance and implication of social media for your students until after you started leveraging it for your own personal learning and development.

    Relevant, personalized, authentic learning is a phrase I hear often while eavesdropping in the edusphere. That needs to apply when you are approaching parents as well. Bringing parents in to see how the students apply these tools in their education is good … but what if you showed how those same principles could be applied in a relevant and authentic way in the day to day lives of parents? How it can make a parent’s job easier? Would it then be easier for them to see the educational/social implications for their kids? Would you get better buy-in? In my experience the answer is yes.

    I really applaud your efforts in trying to include parents in the landscape of their children’s education. You are already taking the time with this blogpost to ask parents what initiatives would create value for them. I challenge you to keep digging, really find out what parents need as people .. not just as parents .. look beyond the context of the kids. I’d hate for you to rush and get a drill .. when what you really need is a saw 🙂

    • George

      Penny…This is a fantastic comment and reminded me why I blog. It is not to just share my ideas, but to learn from others. I have been blessed that more parents have been finding my blog and commenting on it. I have the perspective of an educator and it is essential that I find as many voices to hear from as many stakeholders as possible. I am definitely going to be thinking about your comments as I work with parents this year. We are blessed to have a wonderful and open group of parents; the more we do together, the better it will be.

      • Penny Lindballe

        I'm constructing 2 sessions that I am hoping to offer this fall to fellow parents. I'll certainly share what ever resources, feedback and insight I gain from that experience. I am sure I will learn a lot .. it always surprises me what they find to be the most valuable vs what I thought was going to be. Always an eyeopener!


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