Category: Parents

parent communication

3 Digital Tools To Keep Parents Up to Date

Keeping parents informed about classroom activities is a challenge. They are busy with work, their children, and whatever personal life they can eke out of the sixteen hours that make up their waking day. The best method to reach them is with a short, pithy message that’s informative and easy to access.

Here are three tools educators agree do exactly that:

parent communicationDialMyCalls

DialMyCalls is a quick, intuitive approach to sending messages to large (or small) groups in exactly the way they are comfortable getting them: on their phones. But rather than laboriously calling every number on your parent list–or entrusting an important communication to a phone tree–DialMyCalls sends out a recording you make via phone or text message.  It can detect whether the call is answered by a live person, voicemail, or an answering machines. Once the message is sent, it follows up with an email for those who prefer that approach.

Here’s how it works: Record the message and then send it out to either your entire phone list or a segment you identify. When you’re done, generate a report that tells you exactly what happened with each call.

Pros

If you’ve ever emailed an emergency message to parents and had a large percentage not receive it, you lived the reality that many people don’t check their email. Sure, eventually they do, but not always in the timely manner required of an emergency. What they do check is their phone, for calls or text messages. Using DialMyCalls means every parent gets the message in the quickest way possible. If they don’t have internet at home, they get the phone call. If they don’t carry their phone around, they get the email.

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homework helper

How to Qualify Online Tutoring Services

homework helperAt some point in your child’s education journey, you’re going to feel the need for tutoring. Riley Patterson, one of our Ask a Tech Teacher team has experience with this.  She’s a freelance writer who–in her free time–helps students with their homework. She lives in Illinois with her two-year-old Bridgette (who already knows how to count from one to ten) and a pet dog. Riley wrote a great summary of the critical elements to consider as you make that homework helper decision:

Online tutoring service has become very popular in recent years. The internet and the rapid technological improvement are making the world a little bit smaller and are eliminating barriers to learning. Students can now meet with private tutors, who are maybe from another country, through Skype, Google Hangouts, and other mobile communication applications. Online tutor or homework help companies even have their own website and own application for communication. Tutors, especially online, are now easy to find and easy to engage with. Numbers of online tutorial services are popping up everywhere on the internet these.

However, as parents how and when can you determine if your child needs extra help in their studies? Will you have your child be tutored even though they are doing okay in school? Alternatively, do you wait until their grades are already slipping down? Deciding whether your children need tutoring is a major family decision. Do you have the time to arrange a tutorial session for your child? Do you have the resources of financial capability to pay for the service? Would it really benefit your child? Will it affect their self-esteem? These are some of the questions that you need to answer when coming up when the decision whether or not hire a tutorial service for your child. Nevertheless, once you have made the decision to hire an online tutor, comes now another hurdle: How can you have the assurance that you are engaging the services of a legitimate and qualified tutor? Just like in any other services on the internet, the chances of encountering a scam artist are always there.

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parents in the loop

3 Apps to Keep Parents in The Loop

parents and childrenI’ve taught Preschool-8th grade for thirty years. Throughout, one factor stood out as the most reliable barometer of student achievement: Parent involvement. It didn’t mean parents as tutors, homework helpers, or classroom volunteers–although it could be those. It meant parents showing they cared about their child’s success.

Today’s education model is catching up with the fundamental part parents play in student achievement. In Massachusetts, for example, family and community engagement is one of four standards within its teacher-evaluation rubric.

If you’re looking for a way to involve parents more granularly in your classroom, try these three ideas:

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word study

5 Ways to Involve Parents in Your Class

grammar websitesIn fifteen years of teaching K-8, I have learned that one factor provides a reliable barometer for student success: Parent involvement. In fact, it’s crucial. According to the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education Research Review and Resources, no matter income or background, students with involved parents are more likely to have higher grades and test scores, attend school regularly, have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school. According to the School Community Journal, “There is a sizable body of research literature supporting the involvement of parents in educational settings and activities”.

The data is so overwhelming, one of our important jobs as teachers must be to facilitate the involvement of parents in their child’s education. There are as many ways to do that as there are parents who need alternatives to the traditional parent-teacher conference and back-to-school night. Here are some of my favorites:

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Tech Tip #104: Need a File on Your iPad? Try This

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I have a video on my classroom computer I want to use on my iPad. How do I do that?

A: There are ways to do that–email it to your iPad, open through DropBox–but those have issues:

  • emailing requires extra steps and time you may not have
  • many email accounts limit you to <10MB. What if a video file is larger?
  • DropBox has limited space
  • like email, you must put materials in DropBox to access them from there (I know–Duh, but that requires planning. What if your inquiry-driven class popped onto this topic on the fly?)

If you’re like me, anything to make your worker faster, easier, less steps is a good thing.

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macros

Playful Learning–What a Great Idea

playPlayful Learning (Parents’ Choice Gold Medal website) is a well-done, professional-looking website that  offers advice, projects, and visual images touting the benefits of education through play. The reader is drawn into the child-centered imagery and strong basic colors, wanting everything on offer so their child’s play areas can look and work as described.

Let’s back up a moment. Play as the vehicle of education is not a revolutionary idea. Pedagogy has long recommended ‘play’ as a superior teacher for youngers–

Play is the great synthesizing, integrating, and developing force in childhood and adolescence. –PsycINFO Database Record 2012 APA,

The play of children is not recreation; it means earnest work. Play is the purest intellectual production of the human being, in this stage … for the whole man is visible in them, in his finest capacities, in his innermost being.~ Friedrich Froebel

In general, research shows strong links between creative play and language, physical, cognitive, and social development. Play is a healthy, essential part of childhood. —Department of Education, Newfoundland Labrador

Young children learn the most important things not by being told but by constructing knowledge for themselves in interaction with the physical world and with other children – and the way they do this is by playing.” –Jones, E., & Reynolds, G.  “The play’s the thing: Teachers’ roles in children’s play”

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Do Your Children Need Computers for School?

back to schoolThis is a question I get from parents all the time. Most parents want to get what their child needs as affordably as possible, and don’t want to save a few bucks at the expense of their child. If that sounds like you, here are suggestions on how to decide to get one, what type, and what to include:

  1. Talk to the classroom teacher. What are their expectations of the child? If they’re like the ones in my school, they will want him/her to have access to basic software and the internet for research, maybe email. That’s it.
  2. You’re wondering whether a laptop or desktop is best? There are lots of reasons why a laptop might be a good decision for your particular family dynamics, but in general terms, a desktop is fine for a younger child (K-5). They don’t need to take it to friend’s house for group projects much until they reach middle school, and I would not suggest gearing a more-expensive laptop decision around an occasional project. I guarantee, the teacher won’t.
  3. There are other reasons why a desktop is a good decision. It is more durable (it isn’t carried around, so can’t be dropped). If part breaks (the keyboard, mouse, monitor), you don’t have to replace the entire computer–just that part. Because children are tougher on electronics than experienced users (this should be expected), it will make these sorts of problems less dramatic and costly. And, a desktop has a larger hard drive, more memory, bigger screen, and more drives/ports for input devices. That makes it more adaptable to unexpected needs.
  4. Now you need to select which level of desktop your child requires. Does s/he need the basic $350 on sale version or the everything-in-it upgrade? Start simple. Basic. See what the child uses, what else s/he needs before making an expensive decision. Most kids are fine with the lower end of productivity. Some, though, want the works. You’ll know which is right for your child by the time you’re ready for an upgrade.

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