Archive for the 'Engaging Parents' Category

Monitor Elementary in Springdale, AR, expands winning family-outreach program with Keep the Dream Going Grant

Monitor ES bilingual books

Springdale, Arkansas is home to the largest community of Marshallese families outside the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. At Monitor Elementary, Principal Maribel Childress and ESL Specialist Julia Crane used funds from a 2012-2013 Sharing the Dream Grant to organize a series of Marshallese Academic Achievement Nights to make parents feel welcome, and to involve them more fully in their children’s education.

The initiative was so successful that this year, with funding from a 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream–Keep the Dream Going Grant, the school started a similar program for Hispanic families. Families read books together, work on projects, and are trained in using mini iPads pre-loaded with educational apps that they can “check out” on weekends to support learning at home.

“Nearly 300 of our students are from Mexico and El Salvador, speaking Spanish as their primary language,” Julia Crane said. “Many of our students are migratory, as they move with the family in order to follow work. Parent involvement has been such a challenge for us.”

Monitor’s Family Digital Literacy Project was introduced to families at a school-wide evening academic night in February and parents were quick to sign up. “At least one participation form has been turned in daily,” Crane said.

She believes, “Successful schools with high numbers of English Language Learners have one key component in common: parental involvement. Adding the Latino parent class this year will allow us the opportunity to build trusting relationships with these families as we learn from each other how to celebrate their culture and the academic success of their children.

“Hearing that we won a Keep the Dream Going Grant for this new facet of the program was an exhilarating moment for us!”

Example of Parent Session: Picture Walks

–Julia Crane, ESL Specialist

Our parent classes focus on techniques and strategies that are supported by current research. For example, it is suggested that parents are taught specific strategies that they can use to help support their children with school-related learning.

In a recent class, parents observed a lesson taught in a classroom, where the teacher covered all of the words in a book, only discussing the pictures with the students by asking questions such as ‘what do you notice?’ and ‘what do you think is going to happen next?’

The teacher was able to clearly demonstrate to parents that reading a book was about more than words on a page. After visiting the classroom, I guided the parents through an exercise doing these ‘picture walks.’ The parents then partnered up and practiced this new skill with each other, walking through a book asking simple questions to engage one another in the story.

The object of the lesson was that parents did not need to be able to read in English, or any language for that matter, to facilitate comprehension of the story and enjoy reading with their children.”

Global Resources for Schools: Edmodo.com

edmodo imageExchanging letters through the mail used to be the only feasible way for students to communicate with children in other countries–a process that might provide a couple of exchanges a year given the distance letters had to travel.

Now, with Edmodo.com, an award-winning, safe social learning network with more than 17 million users worldwide, making those connections is a lot easier.

Susan Christy, 8th grade history department head at Florence Middle School, in Florence, Alabama, uses Edmodo as a vital component of her 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream project, Adventures Through Global Weather.

“With Edmodo we can reach out to other schools to interact about weather all over the world. It’s a fabulous tool,” Christy said.

Christy’s students are making a video about weather in Alabama, which will be posted to Edmodo. Children around the world will be able to view the film and share about their own weather, giving insight into how weather effects agriculture, housing, clothing, and customs around the globe.

While many teachers use Edmodo to make international contacts, others use the platform to connect with parents right in the neighborhood.

In Springdale, Arkansas, parents who immigrated to the United States from the Marshall Islands, use Edmodo to network with teachers and other parents, to practice English language skills, and to share thoughts about what their children are learning in school.

The exchange is part of Monitor Elementary’s Family Literacy Project, expanded this year with a 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream-Keep the Dream Going Grant to include Hispanic parents.

“We set up a blog for Marshallese parents to reflect on their experiences and learning in the classrooms with their children, and it was very successful,” ESL specialist Julia Crane said. “Parents really enjoyed using iPads to create presentations about themselves, and to post their reflections. We will be training our parents to set up their own blogs to be a voice for Marshallese and Latino parents in the community.”

Do you use Edmodo in your classroom, school or district? What features do you use? Have you used Edmodo to reach out to classrooms in other countries? Would you recommend it to other educators? Tell us about your experiences in a comment.

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Global Resources for Schools is our feature highlighting international focused organizations, educational websites and resources to support educators in their efforts to create globally oriented schools.

Do you have a website, organization, resource or idea to share? Contact us!


Sharing the Dream

Grants for pre-K-8 school projects that create global classrooms where children—and families—can safely connect, exchange ideas and learn together.

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