I believe that wherever possible, teachers need to involve parents in the learning process with their children. Research shows that parent involvement can improve students' behavior, attendance, and achievement. Therefore, teachers should be trying to create a triangle between themselves, the student and the parent(s), where the teaching and learning is open and transparent. If we can create this triangle, then we can further enhance the learning of our students. Below I am going to share the ways that I have used technology to create this learning traingle.
Class Dojo is a great tool that I use to reward students for their positive behaviour. Each student can create their own avatar, and I can choose the different types of behaviours that I want to reward. I use four behaviours that align with the values of my school. These points add up over the term, and rewards are given out at the end of the term. You can also share your class with other teachers, so others can also reward Dojo points to members of my class. What I really like about Class Dojo is that teachers can involve parents in the process, either by inviting them via email or sending home a unique code so that they can view their childs progress. As well as this, Class Dojo also allows me to send messages to parents (once they download the app), either individually or as a class broadcast. This means that I can send updates and reminders to parents regularly without having to share my personal phone number. For more on Class Dojo, go to their website at www.classdojo.com.
At the beginning of the school year, I invite parents (with their child) to a presentation so we can discuss what we will be doing throughout the year. At this presentation I ask for their Gmail address, and if they do not have one, I give them the opportunity to use the Chromebooks in the room to set up their Google account (their child helps them with this process). I collect the Gmail address from all of the parents and inform them how we will share the documents that their child produces with them. I also show the parents how to use the 'comment' function within Google docs/slides etc end encourage them to add feedback via the 'comment' function. Throughout the year I ask the students to share their Google drive folders of their work not only with me, but with their parents as well. This way the parents can actively see the work that their child is doing, and they can become an integral part of the learning process through adding feedback.
As I mentioned above, I collect all of the Gmail addresses from the parents. I create a group so I can easily send out messages to keep the parents informed and up to date with what is happening in the class and with their child. Often these messages are the same as what I will send out via Class Dojo, but some parents may be likely to check one more often than the other, therefore I like to increase my chances that all of the parents will see my broadcasts.
I use blogger as the platform for my class blog. The parents are informed of the blog address, and I encourage them to check the blog so that they know what their child is doing in class each day. For examples of how I use my class blog, check it out at www.10sg2015.blogspot.com.
As I have already mentioned, research shows that parent involvement can improve students' behavior, attendance, and achievement. As teachers, we need to keep exploring ways in which we can get parents actively involved in the learning process of their children. Technology can further enhance the opportunity to do this. Please feel free to comment and share your ideas about what works well for you in terms of getting parents engaged in the learning process.