Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

4 Ways to Break the Black Box of School

4 Ways to Break the Black Box of School

By Sam Allen

The after-school routine:

Parent: “What did you do in school today?”

Child’s response: “Nothing.”

Any attempts to get more out of a child is usually futile, and parents are left asking themselves a barrage of worrying questions:

What do my kids do every day in school?

Are they learning?

How do they get along with the other students?

Is the teacher actually teaching?

As a teacher, these conversations are heartbreaking. While report cards, parent-teacher conferences and PTA/PTO involvement increase family communication and engagement, there are a variety of other simple ways for teachers to “break the black box” of school. Here are four ways you can reinforce learning and engage families.

“As a teacher, these conversations are heartbreaking.”

1. Create a Website

Creating a blog has never been easier. Using free tools such as Weebly, Square Space, WordPress and Edublogs, you can create a simple class website in less than an hour. Use this to communicate with students or parents and post assignments and resources for projects. In today’s hyper-connected world, students love being able to access classroom resources on the web, and families appreciate having a window into what their children are learning.

More: Foster Virtual Inclusion With a Classroom Blog

2. Create a Private Facebook Page

Using social media to communicate with students may be a scary thought, especially for privacy and security reasons. However, 84 percent of today’s parents are using Facebook, not to mention there are numerous ways to use Facebook effectively and appropriately as a means to communicate with them.

Create your page— A page acts as a place for your to interact with parents and students without revealing your personal information or your actual Facebook profile—as an “organization” and use this platform to share classroom updates like photos, field trip announcements and reminders. Be sure to avoid sharing any student-specific information, which would be a violation of privacy for them.

 3. Share a “Fun” Reading List and Include Prizes

A staggering 73 percent of kids said they would read more if they could find more books that they liked, according to the 2015 Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report. Send your students home with a list of “fun” books to read. Let them pick books throughout the quarter, semester or year and provide small rewards every time they finish one. With much of the reading done at home, parents can feel more involved and gain a better understanding of how their children are learning.

More: Use our Best Children’s Books of 2014 According to the Kids Who Read Them to make your reading list!

“With much of the reading done at home, parents can feel more involved and gain a better understanding of how their children are learning.”

 4. Share Learning Moments From the Classroom

Learning moments occur every day in the classroom, and oftentimes parents have no idea they happened. These moments—reading a book passage without stumbling, working harmoniously on a group project or smiling after correctly answering a math problem—are all critical to their development. Unfortunately, capturing and sharing these things with a digital camera can be difficult. However, apps like Kaymbu make it easy for teachers to visually capture learning moments and easily share them with parents.

It’s helpful for you too; imagine how awesome it would be to have a video of your students reading for the first time, instead of a written report. One teacher who used Kaymbu this way was blown away by the parents’ reactions, which she described as “very emotional and extremely gratifying as a teacher.”


Whooo’s Reading 

Our online reading log makes it easy for parents to be involved in what their students are learning and monitor how they progress through the Common Core reading anchors. As a free program, every teacher can use it to strengthen the connection between student, teacher and parent.

Parents are often left staring at a black box when asking their kids about school. However, with the advent of easy-to-use digital technology, it’s never been easier for educators to engage parents and give families insight on their child’s learning experiences.

Learn how our online fundraising platform can get parents involved.

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