Help please

I think the correct forum for question/answer is actually Twitter (is it?), but I don’t really know how to tweet, so I’m asking for advice here;)

I have a couple of questions and would love any wisdom you can offer. Thanks!!

For people with class websites, how do you get parents and students to read them? (Background knowledge: Our elementary school is looking to get away from our static Moodle page which is very difficult to navigate from a parent’s side and difficult to update on a teacher’s side. We are thinking of using Google Sites as it seems very user-friendly, and we are already using Google apps and email in our school.) So back to my question, if I update my site only once a week or so, how do parents know when to check back without having to check the site everyday? Do your parents use RSS readers? I looked into it for our students, but with the educational Google gmail, I don’t believe RSS reader is an option (only for personal gmail accounts).

Also, as a school moving away from monthly grade level newsletters and into dynamic class websites, which do you recommend using: Google sites, WordPress, Edublogs, or maybe something else?? Please note that unfortunately, our school works in a walled garden, so we would need it to be private. We also need something easy to use as this will be a BIG change for our teachers and parents.

Thanks for the help!

2 thoughts on “Help please

  1. Hi! I definitely don’t have a perfect answer for you, but I thought I’d let you know what I’ve done for the past couple of years… I use Blogger for my classroom parent information blog, which uses the Google login. For the weekly newsletter/reminders/etc., I’ve found that the blog format works pretty well. It can be tricky to get parents reading it, however! A few of them have subscribed to it via RSS, and get all of the updates. In order to reach all of them, however, I end up sending out an email. It’s always brief, just a simple “Hey! The blog has been updated!” with a link.

    I’m looking at building a class site, but haven’t gotten that far yet. I used http://www.weebly.com with my students to create websites for a project, and it’s very user-friendly. Just another option. :) I’ll definitely be checking back to see what people say!

  2. I have a whole presentation I do on this about moving from a paper based system of communication to a digital one with parents and kids.

    First you are right in that you need to pick your container as I call it. Sometimes this is dictated by your school but you still need to know what your container can and cannot do.

    link to thethinkingstick.com

    After you have your container then you need to change the way you use to post information. What you can not do is pretend nothing has changed. Example: I use to send one a news letter on Fridays so now I’ll just update my website on Fridays.

    That doesn’t work….we expect something different from digital information. We expect it to be short, to be specific, to be visual, and to be updated often.

    So take that 30 minutes that you are use to sitting down and writing your daily newsletter and split it up over all five days. Everyday or every other day something new on your site. Monday updates are about reading, Tuesday updates are about Math, Wednesday is Science…you get the drift. Instead of all this information in one day you trickle it out a little everyday. This makes people return to your site because they expect something new to be there. Nothing makes us more upset than waiting for a webpage to load and then not having any new information there for us to read. So update often.

    Visual, visual, visual. Either use images off the web or better yet images from the classroom. This is why every teacher should have a smartphone. Take a picture during class, upload it to your class site and then later go and publish it with some context around it. That parents and students love.

    Create a reason to go to the site:
    Best example of this I ever saw was a teacher who would show funny youtube videos in class but would time it for the bell to ring right before the punch line. He’d then say “Oh…to bad…guess you’ll have to go to the class website and finish watching it” Classic!

    Once the kids were there, they found their homework and other links. A month or so of doing this and he had formed the habits in his kids to go to the website for information.

    So that should be enough to get you started. :)

    ….and if you would have posted this on twitter no way I could have written this much. :) Blogging still matters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>