Sunday, September 16, 2012

Connecting with our Communities




I think including parents/ caregivers/ whanau in their child's online world is so important.  We talk about students having a wider audience and including parents in their audience is such a powerful tool.  I use Wikispaces a lot with my year 5 class and I really wanted parents to be involved in their child's space.  Parents are often mentioning how little they know about the digital world, so to involve them would also mean educating them.  We decided to run parent workshops at night.  We have now run two of these sessions.  Originally we thought we would run them every 4 - 6 weeks.  Our first workshop was on Wikispaces and after feedback realised the parents needed a follow up session the following week.  So we ran a second one this week and had some familiar faces (who became the 'experts') and some newbies.  On the second workshop we also looked at what made a quality comment.
Seems this has been a great success and it has also opened up the path of conversation around this topic even further.  The parents can see the real benefit in using these tools and my students have already commented on their parents feedback. 
To back this all up, we are also emaling a weekly eNewsletter to parents.  In this they can see specific events from our classroom as well as students reflecting on the week (interviews, etc).  This has allowed me greater connection with the parents on a weekly basis as this is often a conversation started either through emails or face-to-face).
Our next session is on Twitter (see Parent Presentation here) and how parents can get involved as many classes use this microblogging throughout the day. 
For me it is great to see the parents connecting with their children on another level and my students are even more aware of the content they put up as they know they have people in their immediate circle viewing this.