We are looking at hosting a parent night centered around technology and the cool things we're doing in the classroom.
Any ideas about what I should or should not be sure to include?

I will be providing an overview of a couple 2.0 tools we're using, like
class wikis, Voicethread, Google Docs, Glogster, Custom Search engines, etc.

I know that a concern for parents is creating accounts out in cyberspace, how do you address this in your class?

Should I spend a lot of time on digital safety and responsibility?

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A goal I might have for a parent night is to increase parent involvement. In this case it would mean involvement with online work. I would try to get parents regularly viewing student work in some way, adding in comments when possible. This could be a great place to involve the students too. Bring kids in and have them show how its done. From this I would want to stem into safety, but approach it by trying to empower parents to be involved in the children's online lives. Sounds like more than one meeting I suppose, but that may be what it takes to move things forward.
Thanks so much for your feedback, I think those are great ideas, I hadn't thought about the students inclusion, but that would make it so much better and authentic. Thanks for helping me out.
This sounds like a great event, Mike. And I'm glad you're not bringing in the FBI or police to scare the heck out of the parents!!

As far as the digital safety thing goes, I would suggest that you challenge the parents to get involved by actually rolling up their sleeves and using these tools. How can we mentor and guide young people in online spaces when we don't use them ourselves.

I had the good fortune to collaborate with Lorna Costantini on a K12online presentation titled, "Parental Involvement in the 21st Century." The presentation is posted online here: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=340 and simply urges parents to get involved.

What can parents do:
1. Join facebook and join a special interest group in facebook...or, start a blog like our school parent, Cindy Zautcke did: http://livingontheline.wordpress.com/
2. Listen to our Parents as Partners live webcast with special guest Vanessa Van Petten this coming Monday, November 17th at 9 PM Eastern Time in the US. http://www.edtechtalk.com/live We broadcast live on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month to talk about new ways to consider parental involvement. Vanessa will be talking to us about social networking and teens.

I would say more, but I have to go...please report back and let us know how it went.

Also, great quote to start out with...tell the parents, "We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past." The parents get this notion...they get why we want to move beyond simply memorizing, sitting in rows, doing spelling tests, writing 5 paragraph essays that only a teacher sees, etc.

Good luck!
Matt Montagne
Palo Alto, CA
Awesome, thanks for the great ideas, I'll definitely look at that presentation. Great idea about the parent involvement, too.
One idea I heard at a conference is to teach the parents something using technology while talking about the technology in the school. This might seem obvious but it isn't always. Supposedly a very popular "class" to get parents into a school building is to show them how to put music to slide show presentations. Most parents have pictures of their kids, sporting events, etc. that they want to share with others. Showing them how to put their pictures in a slide-show presentation, add music to it, and share it with others teaches the parents a skill and can be used to show them other components of the web. At our high school it is tough to get parents to come in for meetings. Parents seem to be more involved in the schools when their children are in the primary grades. Offering the parents something useful that they personally can use might be a good hook to get them in the building.
I agree with this. Having kids-parents working together creating a Thanksgiving video or something in the school computer lab would be a lot of fun if its set up right. I would attend that.

I also agree with creating a facebook group. There might be one already for your school. Have you checked?

I think it would be great to have parents guest on a weekly podcast. Have a standard set of questions that elementary kids like (favorite food, where did you grow up, etc...). You could have kids record it in ten minutes whenever a parent is in the school. Post on website. I guarantee those parents would check it.
Parents often don't understand things like Twitter, My Space and Facebook, or even the 'code' that kids use when they text message. Set up an account on those sites, hook up an LCD projector and show them the secret world their kids live in so they can be better informed.Let them see what their kids see every day.
We have a "Parents as Partners...Supporting Students in the 21st Century" group on facebook. You can encourage any parents who create a facebook account to join this group (encouraging them to join a group gives them something to do on facebook when they first start...it also gives them access to some potential contacts/ "friends"

I would suggest that you strongly urge parents to use facebook for their own social/professional networking and if they are going to use it as a place to "snoop" on their kids, then they should be open with their children that they are doing this. Parents, teachers, administrators, and other adults need to move from the role of online police officers to online mentors.
If you have a Promethean Board, set up a voting activity using Activotes. It was a hit here.

Great idea! And if you don't have a promethean board, do a few polls with parents and their cell phones using poll everywhere: http://www.polleverywhere.com/

Using a cell phone, which I'm guessing most parents will have, they can answer questions and contribute to the content of the presentation.

While I haven't used this with parents, I have used it with a small group of students as a demo and it works great.

Whoa, that cell thing is awesome. I have an ActiVote system but I rarely use it because it is such a hassle to set up the program, pass out the devices, keep up on batteries, etc.

I will definitely play with this cell thing though!

As far as parents, KISS. We've done Tech Nights the last few years and honestly the only thing the parents care to see is whatever their kids have made. I love the idea of making something right then and there with the parents and kids working together too. Maybe encourage them to bring flash drives so they can take what they make home?



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