Essential Tips to Help Parents and Students Connect with your Class Website

Stupid computer

Lately we’re getting more emails from parents and students asking us to help them find the class blog or explain how to do things like add comments.

After spending the past few days trying to find my own son’s class website I’m really feeling their frustration.  You’ve more chance of finding a needle in a haystack than a website if the web address is wrong and the site is set up to block search engines.

A class website can really help students with their learning and it doesn’t need to send your parents and students crazy trying to work out how to find it or use it.

Here’s our two simple tips to help reduce their frustrations:

1.  Create a Parent Handout

The best way of making sure both parents and your students know how to find and use your website is to explain it using a handout.

Check out Kathleen Morris’s 10 Steps to Navigating the 2KM and 2KJ Blog.  It’ll help you work out the type of information needed for a parent handout.

Make sure when you include your website address that you double check it is correct by clicking on the link :)  You would be amazed at the number of URLs we’re sent each day that are completely wrong or missing a letter.

Tips:

  • We’ll often see teachers include www. in their website address.
  • Websites like blogs and wikis generally don’t include www in their web address; adding it to your URL means the website takes longer to load because it needs to redirect to the correct URL.
  • I use SnagIT to create quick screen captures with arrows, text and effects.  You can download a 30 free trial here!

2.  Gradually Introduce your website to your students

Never assume your students will know how to use your website.

Our experience is students generally don’t know what’s expected of them and too often teachers assume too much.

The same principles apply regardless if you are working with younger students, teenagers or adults and the type of website you are using — the more you guide them through the process of what’s involved the more they’ll get out of it.

Check out Kathleen Morris’s information under 4.  Introduce your blog to students – it’s a great example how to gradually introduce and build on their skills.

What do you think?

How else do you help your parents and students?  What other advice would you give teachers?

Let us know in the comments below and we will be sure to add it to the post!

Image of Stupid computer by f1uffster (Jeanie) licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

8 Responses

  1. Hi Sue,

    Thanks for the mention. One of the biggest tips I give to teachers is that “parent involvement cannot be left to chance”. I have found you need to continually educate and encourage parents with blogging.

    The handout that you featured in your post is a good place to start. I have updated this for this year with our new 4KM and 4KJ blog too.

    I use my parent email newsletter to give parents encouragement and tips about blogging.

    We encourage the students to ask their parents to comment at home. Students love reading out their parent comments (or their own comments) at the start of every day to the class. This seems to work as positive reinforcement!

    We also have a Family Blogging Afternoon towards the start of the year.

    Family Blogging Month (Linda Yollis’ idea) and posting question posts for parents are also good ways to get parents involved in the blog.

    I’m always trying to think of new ideas to get parents blogging so I look forward to hearing what others say!

    Kathleen

  2. Thank you for the great tips and the example handout for home!

    Here are a few things I’ve done to help those at home connect to our class blog:

    1. I created a simple business card with the name of our class blog and the web address and printed them out. Each student taped one into their planner and brought two home to place or tape next to their home computer.

    2. I send out periodic emails with a link, highlighting a post from our blog to encourage parents to visit and leave comments. I find many parents forget to check out the blog regularly but they are eager to do so when they are reminded and can just click on a link in my email.
    Sharon deVries

    • Sue Waters says:

      Hi Sharon, thanks for sharing your tips and sorry about your comment being sent to comment moderation.

      Any chance of a photo of the business card you created? Would love to add it as an example to the post with info about your tip.

      Interesting to hear that both you and Kathleen find the email newsletters really help. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Sue Waters says:

    Hi Kathleen, excellent advice as always and I will be updating my post to include these points. But have a couple of questions first.

    I did look for your Parent handout for this year when writing the post and had no luck finding it. I’m probably blind. Have you uploaded a copy?

    Missed your parent email newsletter. Thanks for pointing it out! Worth updating your “Five Steps to Starting a Class Blog in 2012″ to include this? Have you thought about using something like Mailchimp for the newsletter?

    • Hi Sue,

      No, you weren’t blind! I was meaning to put the 2012 handout on that post. I have just updated it.

      There are a few new things on that handout. For example, I’m going to make one comment a week as compulsory homework. I also have made a new web app for iPhone/Android that parents can access via QR code.

      The email info is already in that post but there is a lot of info so it is easy to miss!

      Good point about Mail Chimp. I use it for my Tech Tools for Teachers newsletter for educators and I have considered using it for parents but I haven’t got around to it. It’s a nice format – I might start using it soon. Thanks for the reminder!

      Kathleen

  4. I make sure my parents sign up on parent (or back-to-school) night. I have a captive audience. The parents are able to access their child’s laptop. Have them go to the site and input their email addresses.

    A few parents missed parent night. I need to make sure I personally contact those who miss parent night so they can get the automatic feeds.

    Janet | expateducator.com

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