Thursday, September 16, 2010

You Gotta Know!

Moving on from an earlier post that I had about e-portfolios and the changes needing to happen to upskill parents in the uses of tech in our classrooms. Last week myself and another teacher began our journey of working with students and parents outside school hours to develop the e-learning knowledge of our parents. This is a reflection on the process and consultation with our parents to make this happen...

First Steps
Our first ideas were to send home an information sheet explaining what we were hoping to do and also a chance to gauge where our parents saw themselves on the scale of ICT competence. We looked at knowledge ranging from google searching to blogs to educational tools like wordle. The last thing we wanted to know about were days and times that best suited our families. The response we got to the surveys was average with around half of both classes returning the notices.

From here the information we recieved it allowed us to move on and plan for the first sessions topics to happen on a day and time/s that suited our families. We found there was a clear split of families wanting to come straight after school and then again straight after work. So to allow for this we set up 2 sessions: 3.30-4.30 and then again 5-6pm. For each family we also emphasised that the students were to come to the sessions as we want them to be able to share and pass on the knowledge and skills they have. They are a key element in the sessions working successfully too. So the students sat with their parents and supported them throughout the session.

We sent out final forms again to notify the parents of the date/time and topics and we received 10 parents across the 2 classes who were keen to come - with another 2 who wanted to but were unavailable that night. We knew the numbers would be lower for the first ones and are relying on word of mouth to begin the upward trend to more parents.

We have called the sessions 'You Gotta Know To Understand'. A nice NZ musical reference there for those of you that know!

Beginning Topics
Our beginning topics were Google Searching and Wordle. Though quite a few of our parents said they felt confident in the basics of Google searching we knew that many of them did not understand further commands or ideas to use when searching - so this is where we focussed. We also looked at wordle as our classes had used it a bit and we felt this would be a nice, clear tool to hook parents in with. Both our beginning choices proved to be a successful place to start as parents gave us feedback such as 'I thought I knew Google searching but I didn't know all these other things!' A few parents were keen to take Wordle back to their workplaces and share their new learning also.

During the sessions we emphasised the idea that the sessions were for the parents and we wanted them to be driven by the parents. To help keep the connections up between the sessions we have set up a wiki that will allow the parents access to notes, how to's, tips and also a place to ask questions and set directions for future sessions. We gave the parents a quick intro session to the wiki and will continue to recap on using the wiki in each session. It was good to see that a few parents and students have already posted ideas to the wallwisher on the wiki.

Next Steps:
  • Our long term idea is that the sessions will be run by the students - but for our first ones we are providing clear models to the students on what the sessions could look like when they begin the teaching.
  • To continue to build the audience each session.
  • To continue to allow for the best availability of the sessions for parents.
  • For the wiki to become more of a hub for the sessions and the parents continued learning.


Allanah King said...

Thank you for posting.

I wonder if you can give the URL to the wiki so I can share best practice with our teachers keen on doing a similar thing.

Miss Signal said...

Thanks Allanah, there will be more info to follow on this as we progress with the sessions etc.

The wiki is

Thanks, Amanda

Alex Wilson said...

Some really good ideas here. I've been so busy concentrating on setting up our class blog and finding new tools that I'd neglected some of the main people who the blog is aimed at. It's given me lots to think about! We've a school open evening soon so that'll be a place to start - I also like the idea of setting up the wiki.
Look forward to reading how the project continues!


Jamin Lietze said...

Hey Amanda

Great to read another of your posts and work with ePortfolios. Your journey with engaging Parents sounds just like ours. Our initial invitation to a special meeting consisted of the survey and then setting a time that suited the majority of them.
I like how you setup the wiki and included the students :-) I think your idea of ultimately getting the students to run the night is fantastic and will also draw the parents to it more so.
Another idea for you is to keep emailing the parents with important announcments e.g. New writing samples that are uploaded, etc. I have started doing this and it has helped them by reminding them of the ePortfolio.

Keep rocking!

Miss Signal said...

Thanks for your comment Alex. It's definitely a good place to look next, but you need to take things in small steps! Your blog has been amazing to watch transform and the kids obviously loved it!

@Jamin - Thanks again for your comments/support. I like your idea of an email list. Could also be good to compliment the wiki at the start to let them know when new content is added as you say.

The first session obviously went well - we have parents asking when the next sessions are already!

Tarnz said...

Fantastic to see all the good ideas you were having at Educamp working out! I am sure parents will use their "networks" to pass on to other parents the necessity of coming along to your sessions. Fantastic that their will be a group of parents so in tune with what their children are learning and embracing new learning themselves. So impressed with the work you are doing and I am going to share this blog link with other teachers to encourage more of this collaboration and encouraging the home/school partnership:-) AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

Hi Amanda

It's comforting to know that there are others entering the e'portfolio arena. We are going to venture down that road in 2011 however, the majority of our content will be electronic versions of our paper portfolios. It's a start as the staff are tentative. Will try to increase the uploading of learning in action as we move further down the path.

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