The "School That Could" provides an overview of a technology initiative in a K-12 school. where teachers create class websites to better communicate with their students and their families.
Copyright © 2017
One day, a little boy came home from school and threw his backpack by the front door. Then, he yelled, “Mom, I’m going outside to play!”
“Wait a second”, said his Mother, “What did you do in school today?”
“I don’t know?”, the little boy said, “I can’t remember….but it was fun!”
“That’s great, but what shall we do for homework?”
“I don’t know?”, the little boy said.
The little boy and his Mother checked his backpack for notes, but they couldn’t find anything, because the little boy forgot to bring his teacher’s newsletter home.
“Oops, the little boy said, “I’m sorry”.
Next, the little boy asked, “Can you call or email my teacher?”
“Great idea!”, his Mother said, and she did just that. Sadly, a few hours later they still hadn’t received any email or calls from the little boy’s teacher.
“Maybe she’s really busy?”, the little boy said.
“That’s true”, his Mother said, “Maybe if she had a class website, we could look through it to see what you do at school each day and also what she would like you to work on at home?”.
“That’d be awesome!”, the little boy said. His Mother agreed.
The very next day, the little boy’s Mother spoke to his teacher and they discussed creating a class website, where parents, students and even fellow teachers could see the daily work that was done in the little boy’s classroom. There, they could also communicate through messaging or email, view the class and school calendars, view assignments, recommended homework and even feedback on completed assignments.
The little boy’s teacher, Mrs. Crabtree, decided that she would talk to the school principal about the whole idea of creating a class website. After all, “How hard could it be?”, she thought, “I bet some other teachers are already doing this for their students”.
Mrs. Crabtree and the principal discussed who would be involved in this technology initiative.
Parents and students would need to advocate for the site and have regular access to view the site, be able to leave comments or questions and also receive responses in a timely manner. Also, teachers would need to work with other teachers that already have class websites or training would need to be implemented school-wide, including a schedule that would allow teachers to complete the training without feeling overwhelmed. Administration would need to allow time for implementation and also support site use among parents and students, understanding that the network techs will need to ensure things run smoothly from their standpoint.
“Yikes!”, said Mrs. Crabtree, “That sounds like it’ll take a lot of support to make this work”.
“Yes!”, said the principal in an excited voice, “It will definitely be worth it!”
As the principal and Mrs. Crabtree ended their conference, they decided that they would provide an introduction to this technology initiative to the school teachers for one hour or less, to get their feedback and answer any questions they had or address any concerns. The administration and tech support would also attend. Parents and students would later be provided an introduction to this new technology initiative after it is implemented.
At the meeting, the principal displayed an example class website, along with the pros of using it. Then, he displayed a calendar to help the teachers plan their class website completion steps. It included things, such as tasks, important dates, training and “check-ups”. It also allowed the admin and tech support to prepare for extra time that they may need to spend supporting the teacher’s progress.
The administration was so impressed by the idea of each classroom teacher creating and maintaining their own website to improve student success, that they provided all the teachers with the last hour of their day to be used strictly for working on this plan, for a period of one month.
Tech support stood up and said, ” Good news, we have enough bandwidth to support individual class websites, too”.
For a couple weeks, the teachers seemed happy and followed the timeline, attending meetings and collaborating with their colleagues, as usual.
Mrs. Crabtree was approached by another teacher, Mr. Apple, who asked, “Is this really a good idea, isn’t this making more work for us?
“Well yes, in the meantime, and No, in the long run”, Mrs. Crabtree confidentaly stated. “For now, we are busy working on our class sites, but when they are completed, we will be able to communicate better with our students and their parents, while providing them with class resources and upcoming events. I know this will help us improve our students learning and comprehension”.
“Good point, Mrs. Crabtree, thank you for reminding me and I hope you have a great Day!”
“You too, Mr. Apple!”
As the teachers began to showcase their class websites and ask for feedback from their peers, they noticed that there were problems with links working properly for things such as, the school calendar, downloading homework, etc. and they were frustrated because of it.
“What is going on?”, one teacher asked tech support, “What are we supposed to do?”, another asked tech support….
“What’s going on?”, asked Mrs. Crabtree, astonished by the numerous teachers upset with tech support. “We need to trouble shoot our websites. After all, what will you do when tech support is out?” “Here, let me show you what I mean…”
As the other teachers watched, Mrs. Crabtree corrected the URL for the school calendar on Mr. Apple’s class website. Next, she helped Mrs. Pear with her site, explaining that she cannot expect parents and students to download such a large file to their desktop.
Eventually, teachers throughout the school caught on and the administration, tech support and Mrs. Crabtree even held a “trouble-shooting” class after school. In fact, after the last meeting, a paper newsletter was distributed for the last time to the little boy and his Mother, along with every other family in the school.
The next day in class, all of the teachers showed their students their new class website, explaining how it worked, and such things as how to message the teacher, where resources and the school calendar were located, along with assignments, feedback and homework.
The teachers received positive feedback from their students, parents and from the school administration. Most of all, the tech support was happy that the teacher’s class websites were working well.
Now, when the little boy is asked by his Mother, “What shall we do for homework today?” or “What did you do in class today?”, he can tell his Mother, “Let me show you”.
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