Thursday, March 24, 2011

Positive Points and Parent Talks

I love parent-teacher conferences, especially in second term.  I have so much more to say and so much more stuff to share!  By now, personalities have emerged along with academic strengths and weaknesses.  By now, the class dynamic has settled into productive and manageable relationships and routines. And by this time of the year the students have grown into their own in terms of the projects and such in their portfolios.

When parents/guardians came to visit our classroom today they were greeted with Art displays, Wordles created about different aspects of our curriculum, the Beothuk village, poetry anthologies, Math posters, and a Science project about mass and volume.  I'd like to think that parents of the few students who may be going home saying "nothing" to that proverbial question about their day in school, were left with a clearer impression of what we have been up to lately.

And of course, one of the things has been our blogging, which is unfamiliar activity to the majority of my parents. Most of them have been enthusiastic supporters of the blogging, and many made a point today to remark on the positive influence they feel this activity has been on their sons and daughters.

One of my reluctant writers has been more than willing to work at home and in school- without prompting- on posts!  His mom asked if blogging was homework and was floored to hear him say that he was doing it "cuz I want to; Miss said we can blog whenever we want to."  Another parent remarked on hearing her child reading a blog post 'to the wall' to fix it before posting, so it was "of final draft quality"; the mother was quite impressed with the serious attitude her child was showing about this form of writing. Yet another parent added how her child is talking at the supper table about what her classmates are writing about and how they are enjoying more grown up conversations because of it!  I knew most of my students have embraced this activity but it's certainly great to get such feedback from parents!

Part of our classroom display today included our chart stand with a colourful announcement, designed by some of my 'artsy' girls, inviting the parents to begin blogging and commenting!  One of the computers was up and running so I could, when we finished the discussion about their child's growth over the term, quickly provide parents with their user name and guest password.

The face-to-face reaction I got to all this was quite eye-opening!  Most expressed an interest in becoming involved. However, one parent spoke up about their lack of confidence in their abilities to write well enough to take part; that, in particular, their spelling wasn't very good.  I did explain that as moderator, I can edit anything that slips past the tools (and make suggestions that only they can view before publishing) - if they wanted me to do that.  I also added that seeking assistance from their child in how to work with the features of word processing could be beneficial to both!

Another wondered if the students would really welcome the feedback from grown-ups?  I suggested they put that question on the blog to see!

With computers being so prevalent,certainly I can't imagine not having them in my classroom, it's easy to forget that not everyone has had the same experience with what they can do  and that, for some, this technology is still a little intimidating.

I hope that adding parents to our blogging community will facilitate some additional purposeful writings as the kids expand their audience.  I also expect there to be a broadening understanding on the part of the parents and families of what the Grade Five students are capable of creating using the digital tools available to them.

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