The Educator's PLN

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We have made good use of technology to engage parents in their children's learning. Below are two key developments that are proving successful.

The school has two blogs. One was set up several years ago with the support of the SSAT and the other last year by one of our ICT Leaders
(@mr_jim). The first blog enabled the whole school community to get
involved in the life of the school, it took communication to new levels
and conversation beyond the school gate. The blog acted as a social
platform, allowing dialogue to grow around learning (and more besides!)
We were keen not to lose the vibrancy, energy and enthusiasm the blog
was generating but at the same time we wanted to further develop its
role in supporting learning. The inclusion of writing rooms alongside
children's forums, parent's forums and treasure hunts helped the blog
attract more and more hits and under the watchful eye of mr_jim it is
still run by the children as it has been for the last three years.

The new blog is in its infancy but is being developed as a campus site, with class, pupil groups and headteacher blogs linked through a central page. Several classes are piloting this approach and our hope
is that as this develops more work will be posted and shared more
readily with parents allowing an online dialogue around their learning
to develop. Links with partner schools around the globe means that
the children have an ever expanding audience (they're also global peer
assessors!) Access for parents to this online world of learning and
collaboration is central to our vision for technology and those who
make use of this vehicle for engagement love it.

Life Channel

At Hawes Side we make use of the Life Channel to further support engagement with parents. For many years we had been creating digital
content with the children but had few opportunities to present this
work. The Life Channel provided us with a digital display wall to
share the children's work and much more. We had a few screens fitted
around school and following some simple instruction set up running
schedules for a range of films, animations, photostories and
powerpoints to be played throughout the day for the children's benefit.
This digital work is also loaded onto the blog so parents have access
at home. Parents' workshops in the use of photostory have resulted in
children bringing in films from home to play on the Life Channel.
Recently a pupil in Y4 gave me a photostory he had made at home showing
3D shapes all around him (a follow up to classwork). Straight away
the film was loaded onto the screens to act as a learning resource for
his peers. This is a pattern that is happening more and more, as
children take control of the technology and use it to support their
learning. We are ensuring that parents aren't left behind by running
sessions to familiarise them with the programmes their children utilise
in school (and at home). The Life Channel and the blogs are helping
us reach those parents who can't make it into school for the face to
face sessions we run. They are helping bridge the gap between school
and home learning making the most of simple to use technologies in fun
and creative ways.

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