E-flections of an Educator

Spreading My Digital Wings

Posted on: March 27, 2009

butterfly from stock.xchngI spend a lot of time on Twitter because it’s fun, but mostly because of all the wonderful resources shared by the great folks in my PLN. I frequently end a twitter session with several open windows with too many tabs to count! When I do check them out, I bookmark to my diigo, and even RT (retweet) to continue the chain of sharing. I even added the url to my diigo links to my email signature, and I’m slowly getting teachers connected with it.

Last month we hosted a parent night for the parents of our middle schoolers who need additional support, and I began to wonder, how can I connect parents with the plethora of resources available out in the digital world? I thought about giving them the url to my diigo bookmarks, but that takes a little getting used to to figure out. Then I thought about some of the wikis and websites of my cyber-colleagues, and was especially motivated by the wiki of Kelly Hines, The File Cabinet. I really loved the simplicity of the sparse design; everything is easy to find. But wikis are blocked at school. ūüė¶¬† (Update: wikispaces and PB Works are now accessible!)

Then I talked to one of the IT consultants at Macomb Intermediate School District, Frank Miracola, who told me about Weebly. (Frank has since passed after a valiant battle with cancer. I am forever grateful for all the learning.)  When I found it was not blocked at school, and saw how easy it was to use, and it provided exactly the model I wanted to use, I was convinced Weebly was the way to go. Now you may be wondering why does it matter what is blocked at school if she wants to create a website for parents? Simple. I needed to be able to work on it at school, plus, my vision was to bring parents in to the school to get them started.

This week we held a family literacy night at one of my buildings for the parents of at-risk 1st and 2nd graders. Parents brought their children, and they were presented with activities they could do together at home to promote the literacy development of the children. We talked about developmental writing, and honoring spelling attempts which included the sounds in the words, and led the parents and children in writing in the hard-cover journals they received in their goody bags. The bags were also stuffed with additional tips for parents, a ring of sight words, a new book, a laminated line guide and a dry-erase marker to practice handwriting.

After the writing activity, families were led into the computer lab, where the computers greeted them with the Family Fun Learning home page. After a brief intro on the overhead monitor, parents and children explored the links and games. It was a joyous sight to behold–families actively engaged in learning together. Each family also received a bookmark with the Family Fun Learning url to take home, and several were heard to comment that they were going to go right home and bookmark the site on their home computers.

I haven’t read the evaluations yet. But what I witnessed was evidence to me. Many thanks to the wonderful educators I am honored to know through Twitter, for their gracious sharing. Without you, the website would not be possible.


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