Engaging Parents

There are several things that I have done or am in the process of doing in order to engage parents in our class web site and student portfolio sites.

  1. Promote the class web site. In the past, I have made business cards to share. This year, I purchased 200 MiniCards from Moo. The MiniCards are half the size of a traditional business card. It’s about $40 (US) for 200 cards, but Moo often runs specials. The really cool thing about Moo cards, is that you can use up to 100 different images for the front of the card. Since I am such a space geek, and because our class web site this year features photographs from the launch of STS-132 Atlantis I was able to attend, I featured space related photos on the cards. I used 15 different images for the cards. On the back of the card, I had the class logo, my name, the class web site, my email address, our class Twitter account, and the school phone number. I pass these cards out during our open house the week before school begins. I make sure to point out that we have a class web site, and they should check it out. I make sure there is already information on the class web site for parents and students to check out.
  2. Send home an information letter about the student portfolio project/student blogs. You can check out a letter similar to the one that I sent home to parents this year for our web portfolio projects. The group of teachers piloting the web portfolio project collaborated together to create the letter. I will do some things differently with this letter next year: make it more visual, include information about how to comment on student blogs, information about subscribing via email and RSS, and more about the class blog.
  3. Host a Portfolio Showcase Open House. During our parent-teacher conferences in November, a colleague and I hosted a portfolio showcase open house. We had some juice and cookies, laptops set up, and invited students to come in and show their parents what they had been doing with their portfolios. It was incredible. We had about 20 parents attend, and the students were so excited to show their parents what they had been doing. I plan to do this at least one more time before the end of the year. Next time, I will highlight how parents can comment on their child’s blog.
  4. Create a parent info sheet about the class blog and student blogs. I just did this a couple of weeks ago as a part of this challenge. I added a page to the class site to host it. You can check out more information about it on this post. We are already over half way through our school year, so it was a bit late to get it up, but I have already noticed that parents are subscribing to the email updates from the class blog. I hope including this with initial handouts at the beginning of the year will help parents become more involved early in the process.
  5. Remind parents about the class blog during conferences and in email correspondence. Every time I speak with a parent, I try to remind them about our class blog. I post practically everything we do in class on the blog. I have even had a chance to post more videos recently. I think it gives a really good picture of what we are doing in class each day, and it helps parents to see what students are missing (whether because of absences or a failure to complete assignments).

I still have a lot of work to do. I know my focus will change a lot over the next school year. I want parents to feel welcome to comment frequently on both the class blog and student blogs. While working through the Teacher Challenges, I feel much more equipped to do this, and I am developing a greater vision of possibilities for our class blog.

By Janelle

Space geek, science nerd extraordinaire. That's me! Want to know more, visit the About page.

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