Thursday, May 31, 2012

Working with Communicating with Students & Parents.

My Guest Blogger this time is S. Brine, a Social Studies Teacher at our school who loves trying anything new that engages the students.  The following is her research and learning today.

My goal: a website
During the Pro-D at the end of summer in 2011, I set my goal: to create a website that would meet the needs of students and parents.  Using Webnode as my template, I put together a site that allowed students and parents to view a weekly run-down of what to expect in Social Studies class, check homework assignments and due dates, view test dates (along with what to expect on the test), and have access to links that connected them to important documents (unit overviews, course outlines, expectations, etc.)  The website also provided numerous ways to contact me and strongly encouraged both students and parents to do so at any time. 
What really happened: a website and Twitter and a document reader
Upon completion of my website, I proudly wrote out the address for the students and asked them to use it often to keep themselves informed throughout the course.  One of my grade 10 students respectfully informed me that they didn’t really ‘use the Internet’ but rather relied on Twitter for information.  This particular class made it clear to me that if I truly wanted to be technologically savvy with my students, I would need to use what they used.  I created an account and tweeted reminders about homework.  More importantly, I sent out tweets that informed students the website was updated.  This helped remind them of my website and they began checking it on a regular basis.  So my goal became larger and I was able to both complete and manage the website this year and become familiar with Twitter and how it can be a wonderful tool to further connect me with students and my larger educational community.  I am now in the process of learning about my new document reader and how it can provide an opportunity to not only aid instruction, but record photos and video that can be uploaded to my website.     
What worked:
What worked for me was having the time to develop the website and the time to learn how to format it so it looked the way I wanted it to.  I enjoyed having my own time during Pro-D to put it all together and ask for help when needed.  The goal was mygoal and it was very satisfying to meet it.  With the updated wireless and the strong support from Nicole in particular, I was excited to experiment with and play with technology.  This school year, I have had more contact with parents than ever before as more are willing to contact me via e-mail and check the website to stay informed as to what their child is doing in my class.  It has made the whole teaching/learning experience much more open and transparent. 

What didn’t work:
I would have found more value in working with a small group of people who had similar goals to mine.  Having the time alone to concentrate on my goals was appreciated, but I would have enjoyed the collaboration with other staff members as well from time to time.  I also would have enjoyed a session where teachers would be able to show what they had accomplished or report out their experience with technology.

I agree, the teachers need to share and show their learning.  Next year, the Pro D days.

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