I was listening to the radio this morning and the topic of discussion was how adults totally forget how to do math problems that a typical middle school or high school student would encounter. Several callers mentioned that they rely on their older children to help the younger ones (which I think is awesome for both kids). There were also a few callers that said how much they appreciate when teachers put an example problem on the top of the worksheet (for the parents to see how a problem would be fully worked to jog their memory).
This got me thinking about the way we have sold the idea of class websites to teachers. When used effectively as a part of the daily lessons, students will utilize a class website. If it is presented and then never referred to again, students will likely not give it a second thought, even if it is full of great information.
Of course, if you are taking the time to share great content on your website – you should be talking it up to your students and creating lessons that rely on your website to show them the value of what can be found online.
If you take it a step further, however, you can promote your website to parents and enable them to receive the same refreshers and content boosters the students get. In some cases it would even make sense to gear your website to parents and your social media presence to your students.
I am not promoting that parents learn the material so the students don’t have to – that would certainly not be productive for anyone (except the parent, perhaps). But plenty of studies show that parental involvement in schoolwork dramatically increases outcomes and chances of student growth and success. It makes sense, right? If a student is held accountable by their parents, and the parents are able to help with questions once they get home, what barriers are there for students being successful outside of the classroom where we typically have little to no control?
Here are a couple of pointers to create a website that is beneficial for students and parents:
- Make content easy to find and simple to navigate.
- Keep it updated with what is currently being taught in your classroom. Students and Parents will stop relying on it as a resource if it doesn’t get updated regularly.
- Integrate social media to keep engagement consistent and to update students and parents when new information is available.
- Use pictures, video, and screencasts or pencasts to help teach parents and reteach the students.
- Create a way for feedback or questions through the website or a social media outlet (encourage the students to ask any questions, not the parents – this builds skills on several levels for the students).
Screencasts and Pencasts (some quick information):
- Great for both students and parents.
- Students can review as necessary based on what was done in class
- Parents can see how problems are worked and what was taught to better assist their child
- Screencasts/Pencasts can be used to demonstrate lessons even when a teacher misses class.
- Utilize video resources to better demonstrate ideas and procedures. Students can replay as many times as necessary.
Places to start your website:
- WordPress.org (requires your own hosting, GreenGeeks is awesome and affordable)
Ultimately, the idea is to give your class website some thought. A well planned site will benefit both students and parents and provide learning experiences both in and outside the classroom.