My wife, Cheryl and I have been fortunate to teach at the same school for the past sixteen years. We recently had the unique opportunity to work collaboratively on a project: “Making Learning Visible’. We’ve just completed our report!
By being able to access video, voice recordings, photos and blogs on a daily basis, parents will naturally feel more connected to their children’s learning, more engaged and stronger stakeholders in their child’s education.
By making our students’ learning visible, as experienced educators, we are effectively sharing and modelling our best practises (eg. inquiry based learning, hands on math, problem solving strategies, technology integration) with teachers throughout the world.
We are both experienced teachers and have taught at St.Elizabeth School for 15+ years. Cheryl is an ELKP Year 1 teacher and Peter teaches grade 5/6. St. Elizabeth is a ELKP-Grade 6 Elementary School in Thunder Bay Ontario. It has a population of 275 students. The demographics are varied.
Actions Undertaken To Address The Question
We met 4 times out of our school community in order to collaborate
to create our class blogs. We inquired about, selected and used an app that would effectively enable us to connect with our students’ parents and easily share our blogs with them. We were excited to share our blogs with parents and the greater education community.
Instruments Used To Collect Data
Twitter “Direct Message” to collect data about potential apps from a number of “connected” educators throughout the world. Statistics from our WordPress Blogs to track traffic to our class webpages. Google forms to elicit feedback/input/next steps from parents.
Our Analysis Of The Data
After analyzing our data, we found that our project was incredibly successful! Our “Remind” notifications have been been very successful in driving parents to our class blog and statistics reveal that close to 100% of parents who receive the notifications visit and interact with the content on our class blogs. Statistics also reveal that teachers throughout the world are visiting our blogs, which has allowed us to model best practises and ideals while giving our students a “global voice”.
Descriptive Account Of Project
We were excited to work together to engage our students’ parents in their children’s learning. With our own son in grade one, we were also able to think with a “parent’s lens” in helping us decide what and how we’d share the learning that is happening in classrooms. We also recognize that parent’s are busy but truly have a vested interest in their children’s learning.
We have successfully leveraged technology that allows us to invite parents to “visit their children’s classrooms” in an efficient, engaging and convenient way. Conversations about learning are now continuing beyond the confines of our classrooms!
Letting your child “go” during the first year of school can be difficult, to say the least. Cheryl’s blog: ‘ELKP Adventures’ provides parents with an “open window” to their child’s classroom. Younger students are pleased to share and discuss pictures with their parents and they, in turn, have an opportunity to converse and inquire about their child’s school day.
In the older grades, Peter’s blog: Mr.C’s SharesEaseBlog which shares examples of student work, science inquiries, math thinking, “real world” math challenges and our virtual learning journeys is effectively engaging parents in learning as well. Parents are now playing an more active role in their child’s education!
We have found that making our students’ learning visible, has empowered our students and has given them a “global voice”. They realize that their voice matters and that’s what matters most.
We referred to the book, Parent Engagement by OTF/FEO. “Research clearly indicates that
good schools become better schools when they are strongly connected with parents as part of the learning community.” We believe that this is true as we saw our parents become more interested in the daily activities of our classrooms through the use of our blogs. We also realize that “parent engagement takes many different forms as it continues to evolve in our schools and boards.” In today’s fast-paced society parents need quick ways to stay in touch with child’s schools, classroom and teachers. They are interested in the learning happening but are increasingly busy with day to day lives. Texts, blogs and apps are becoming the way of the future for easy, efficient and effective parent communication.
Much of our research on this project was through collaboration with educators throughout the world. Being “connected” through Twitter and a number of education forums allowed us to seek models, information, input, feedback and advice.
Our global Personal Learning Networks allowed us access to a wealth of practical information and knowledge and allowed us to review a multitude of classroom blogs and platforms to connect with parents, which in turn, led us to make informed decisions and be reflective about the steps we were taking throughout our learning.
After developing our classroom blogs and using the Remind app, we would highly recommend them for use in any classroom. They are quick, handy tools to keep parents easily connected and engaged in their children’s learning. Almost all of our parents have signed up to use the Remind app and are visiting our class blogs frequently. The response from has been nothing but positive and beyond our expectations. As research states “parent engagement is important to student success.”
We have developed a research/inquiry model that helped guide our learning throughout our project. We have found that it can be easily adapted for classroom use and is great for guiding student inquiries in any subject.
We are committed to continue to collaborate to ensure maintenance of our classroom blogs and their success. Continue our professional collaboration and/or learning opportunities -sharing tips, presenting workshops, writing blogs on successful parent engagement with other teachers. Provide learning and teaching opportunities to colleagues in regards to leveraging technology for parent engagement and student voice.