Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ways Technology Can Support Family Engagement

One of the best ways you can support family engagement is to get your families involved in the learning process. I think all teachers, when we think of family engagement, want more authentic participation- an actual 3 way partnership between the parent, child, and teacher.  Technology, along with strategically designed learning activities can help us meet this goal.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is through blogs.  A teacher can set up a blog very easily and can use it in ways that allow parents to become active in the learning process.  With the use of smartphones, parents and their children can participate at anytime, anywhere.

Ideas for activities include posting story starters that students and families can add to collaboratively, challenges, journals, curiosities they see in the world, to name just a few.

An interesting site published by John Hopkin's University is TIPS- Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork.  The site lists ways that parents can become involved more authentically with homework.  According to the site:

  • TIPS helps all families become involved, not just the few who know how to discuss math, science, or other subjects.
  • TIPS makes homework the student's responsibility and does not ask parents to "teach" subjects or skills that they are not prepared to teach.
  • TIPS asks students to share and enjoy their work, ideas, and progress with their families.
  • TIPS allows families to comment and request other information from teachers in a section for home-to-school communication.

I believe we as educators could easily weave together the power of technology (in this example, a blog) along with the ideas shared on the TIPS site.   Here is an example of a TIPS activity for English Language Arts.



This activity could easily be re-worked onto a blog.  The teacher could post the requirements and ask families to reply to the post with work.  

Here is another activity from ReadWriteThink.  This could also easily be adapted and shared to families via a blog.  Parents and kids can post their responses as well.  



As you can see, working these activities into a blog allows families to engage with each other as one large learning community.


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