4 Apps that Promote Parent-Teacher Communication

I have posted commentary in the past on how important it is to work with parents and the community to secure involvement.

This article, “4 Apps to Foster Parent-Teacher Communication“, was written by Meghan Bogardus Cortez and posted on EdTeach Magazine.  She highlights a gallop poll that I use when discussing this very topics with districts as they prospect what ed tech is going to help them achieve their goals.  This is depressing to say the least!

Here are her 4 apps: check our the article for more details!

  1. Bloomz
  2. SimplyCircle
  3. ClassDojo – I have personal experience with this one.  My daughter has it and so far I am impressed with it and like how it can keep me informed with her, her class, and her teacher!
  4. Remind

What do you use in your classroom, campus, district?  Interested to hear the pros and cons of these great options!

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Technology Academy for Parents – Genius!

Who has a parent, aunt, grandparent, or someone that they are close too that always needs help with technology!?  I know that I personally am always seem to be helping someone with technology.  It might be my 80 year old grandparents and their laptop or even my wife posting on Facebook!  (Sorry babe – still love you!)

With the way education has moved lately parents need to be on the cutting edge of it to keep up!  Think of the disconnect that is built unintentionally between students and parents if they, the parents, cannot follow what their child is doing with technology.

La Canada Unified School District (LCUSD) had a fantastic idea and held a Tech Academy for parents!  What a great way to reach out to the community, teach parents about technology, and get them to buy in to what you are doing as a district!  They used chromebooks and had their parents log into Google and complete some simple tasks just as their children would.

Read here to see the details!

Kudos to all involved and I hope that this has an amazing effect on your parents and community which will in turn help who really matters, your students!  If your a district that has done something similar, please comment or post a link to your event.  I would love to check it out!

**Image was borrowed from the article and was taken by staff photographer Tim Berger**

3 Lessons To Systematically Engage Families

This article comes to you from the Harvard Family Research Project or HFRP.  I have published their work before and they are now starting a blog series called New Directions in Family Engagement.

Lots of people publish information about ideas/opinions the discuss parent and community involvement, my self included, but the difference maker here is this: the HFRP backs their suggestions/thoughts with FACTS found by surveying the public.  This blog is powerful and I hope that it provides all of you with a great resource as you enter the start of a new school year.  This is a crucial topic and one that all districts need to work towards master because it is proven that getting parents involved leads to success.

**Photo is borrowed from the article cited for this blog post by the HFRP**

 

How to Share Data Effectively

Harvard Family Research Project (2013). Tips for Administrators, Teachers, and Families: How to Share Data Effectively. Retrieved from http://www.hfrp.org/var/hfrp/storage/fckeditor/File/7-DataSharingTipSheets-HarvardFamilyResearchProject.p

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Data-driven organizations are found all over the world.  It is the data that drives decisions in banking, sports, and in recent years, schools.  It has transformed the way districts analyze scores, make decisions, and all of this has a direct impact on our students.  The question I have for you is are you sharing it effectively?

The Harvard Family Research Project provides us with their Tips for Administrators, Teachers, and Families: How to Share Data Effectively.  The article provides tips on how to effectively distribute, use, and communicate data to your teachers, students, and community.  I worked at a school that would provide me piles of data on paper, multiple websites with multiple log-ins, and then claim to be data driven!  They never sat down and talked with teachers to explain best practices is utilizing the data, how to share it with students or even how to share it with parents.  Do you work at a place like this?  This article is great and provides suggestions on how to get over these hurdles.

Here are some of the headlines from the article highlighting which scenario’s are discussed:

  • Creating a Data Sharing Culture Among Teachers
  • Helping Families Make Use of Data
  • Preparing to Share Data With Families
  • Talking With Families About Student Data
  • Preparing to Communicate With Teachers
  • Talking with Teachers About Your Child’s Progress

So often I see schools who claim they are data driven and then when you ask how they use it effectively they are not able to provide a solid response.  They are like one of the districts I worked at.  They can provide me lists of websites, benchmark tests, etc to collect the data but they do not have a plan on how to use it effectively.

Think of the things that are wasted when data is not used: money, instructional time, teacher planning time, etc.  “Recess!” My daughter would yell and you know what why not!?  Gathering data with benchmark tests bring stress, anxiety to classrooms across the country for teachers and students so when I see they are not used effectively it is disappointing.  Data alone has no value, it is what is done with it that matters.

So we have talked about ways to share the data so how did we get to this point?  Data has no value unless you use it appropriately to make decisions.  Here is a resource that highlights how to make data work and what you can do as a teacher, administrator and policy maker to ensure that data is useful.  If you are still wondering what specifically you could do here are 11 tips on How to Make Data Analytics Work for K-12.

Use these resources to inspire changes in policy and usage of data in your district or fine tune your methods.  In this ever changing world we always need to make sure that we are being efficient in our practices and data sharing is no different!

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Want to Guarantee Your Children’s Success?

I recently came across an article put out by my friends business called Guaranteeing Success for your Child.  “Guarantee”caught my attention and has a father of 3 (8, 3, and 1) I was instantly curious what is the secret!

The article discusses the work of a man named Geoffrey Canada.  This man’s story is awesome and after reading this article I encourage you to do more research on his past and how he impacts children.  The purpose of this article though is to discuss the key to successful children and also, the key to breaking out of poverty.  Ready for it?

READ TO YOUR CHILDREN

This blog encouraged me to research Mr. Canada and I am inspired of his desire to do the right thing, support families, and advocate for education.  He founded the Harlem Children’s Zone and The Baby College to help parents with children from age 0-3.  They teach the solution to poverty: READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.  These institutions have had AMAZING success.  You can follow the links above to read about them or watching his excerpt on TEDTalks (20 minutes) or 60 minutes (14 mintues).

How does has he had so much success?  Read the excerpt from the blog that highlights how he and his people are impacting our future generation.

“The more you introduce language to children, the more they grab it.  Middle and upper middle class parents typically know that, but in those 97 city blocks of Harlem, no one had previously stressed the importance of reading.

It turns out that the biggest difference between the haves and the have-nots is language acquisition, because that translates into verbal ability.

James Heckman, an economist at the University of Chicago, found the difference in the sheer number of words that middle class parents speak to their child–as opposed to poverty class parents–differs by about 20 million words.  So, by age three, your middle class child has been exposed to 20 million more words than a poor three year old.”

Geoffrey Canada wants to provide children raised in poverty the opportunity to achieve success and his institutions have been wildly successful.  Do your research, share his story with everyone because you can be apart of the success of another child, and READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.

His schools have boasted 100% graduation rates and 100% college placement.  They continue to stay involved with these students post-graduation.  They “harass” them as a good parent should to be involved in their lives, preach that you can do it, and let their children know that they REFUSE to let them fail.

Kudos to you Mr. Canada and all that you are doing for our youth.  I am truly inspired by you and your work.

Tips to Share Ed-Tech Success

In today’s 21st century the digital classroom is now common place around the United States and is found in over half of our countries districts.  The next big thing is the idea of personalized learning and how to find ways to customize learning for each individual student.

So maybe your district has a 1 to 1 initiative and found a solid way to personalize learning – AWESOME! – but how do you share those ideas?  Maybe you are in the middle of the process and are looking to develop buy in across the district and community?  Have you found ways to frame your district successes share them with your community?

SunGard K-12 sponsored an article with District Administration that highlights the best ways to make sure that you are celebrating and sharing your success with others.  Here are the highlights:

  • Consider how to frame your district’s story
  • Get to know your local education reporters, as well as ed-tech trade press
  • Leverage other resources in your district to help spread the word
  • Keep it simple, avoid jargon and acronyms

Another way is to use social media.  Here are links also provided by SunGard K-12 that highlight ways to be successful on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

 

FACT-Parental Involvemnt has HUGE impact

When I talke to districts about ways to impact student growth I always stress the importance of getting parents involved in the process.  As someone who had parental support throughout my educational career and a former teacher, I have seen and felt the benefits from both sides.  I often speak to a fact released by the U.S. Department of Ed a few years ago.  I summarize their point by saying, “at age 14, only 55% of parents are involved in their kids education and that that number continues to decline throughout highschool”.  Apparently this statistic was optomistic at best!

Matthew Lynch recently published a fantastic article, “Increasing Parental Engagement Takes More Than Email”, that supports my theory, and the theory of most educators I am sure, with statisitcs from recent study by Gallop.  This study states that 80% of parents are either indifferent or disengaged from their kid’s school.  This is a staggering number and makes my 55% statistic, one that I speak at in a negative light because it is disappointing, sound glorious.

We need to turn this 80% statistic on it’s head and provide opportunities for parents to be involved.  He then offers a new app to help engage more parents.  Read it to learn more!  If you are looking for other models for this you have to check out the Go Public initiative in San Antonio or some of the actions taken by Lancaster ISD in Texas.  These are just examples of programs that have had enormous success in getting parents involved in the learning process and I am sure there are TONS of other schools with the same.

Let’s use this as a forum to share how our schools engage parents so that we can all work to tip the scales!

Promoting Success in Public Education

Go Public is an amazing initiative that has been taking place in San Antonio, Texas, since 2013.  In a collective letter from the superintedents of the distrcits of Bexar County, they explain the purpose of the program.  “The purpose of Go Public is not to root our and ocrrect the faults of public education…Insetead, all of Bexar County’s 16 independent school districts have come together with this singular goal: To inspire everyone – whether you have kids or not, whether you went to public school or not – to take a collective step back and celebrate the wonderful, heartwarming, life-altering things happening EVERY DAY in public schools.”

Initatives like this are fantastic.  They promote strong educational ecosystems that include all valuable stakeholders in the process: administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the community.

If your wondering, Why Go Public?  Follow the link to learn more information and watch more success story videos that put the achievements of public education in Bexar County, TX.  You can also like their Facebook page to learn more information and track their success.

Kudos to all involved, today and in the past, on this amazing way to share success’s in education!

Engaging Parents of ELL

Check out this great blog by Amy Erin Borovay.  She summarizes here experiences in a kindergarten class in California!

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/engaging-parents-english-language-learners?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

Parent-Teacher Conference Makeover

After spending a decade in the classroom it is no secret that this night, Parent-Teacher Conference night, is a favorite amoungest all teachers…NOT!  It is a night full of anxiety because you never know how a parent will react to what you have to say about their child, whether bad or good, beleive it or not.  (I actually had a parent get upset with me because I mentioned how well her son was doing in class, that he was a leader, and that he had big things coming!)

Anyways, thanks to Sarah Sparks and her blog on Parent-Teacher Conferences Get a Makeover, I was able to read about Ruth Hill Elementary School in Newnan, Georgia and how they take full advantage of these situations.  We all know that getting parents and the community involved can be a daunting task, but what if it was as easy as just educating our parents on how to teach their children at home, as well as provide supplies to complete assignments?

One study shows that that over 75% of parents will be present at their schools open house and those numbers are almost dupilcated for a scheduled parent-teacher conference.  These are crucial times in the learning process because we are given a gift.  The gift is a face to face meeting with the parent(s) of our students where we have another opportunity to teach and make a difference in our students lives.

How you might be wondering?  The teachers at Ruth Hill Elementary have their parents set a 60 day goal for their child and then model these activities for their parents so they know how to help their kids at home!  After this 60 day period, they meet to discuss the process, make new goals, provide resources, set a date, and meet again.  This process continues throughout the school year.

This model is called APTT (Academic Parent Teacher Team) and it was pioleted in Creighton School Distrcit in Arizona and is now used all across the country.  Creighton School District has very high low income family rates, around 80%, and this model has shown to be very effective.  It is used in cities around the U.S., Chicago and Houston to name a couple, as well as state wide use in Georgia and Wisconson.

This is one area that I missed as a teacher, the opportunity to teach my parents how to be teachers at home.  Everyone wants more parent and community involvment, but this is different.  This is different because parents are not just “involved”, they are actually empowed.  These are parents who have activtely become a part of the education process.