This is an update of some of the posts I’ve written in the past about getting parents involved in blogging.
About parents and blogs
One of the many benefits of having a class blog is the strengthening of home-school relationships.
A class blog can provide a virtual window into the classroom.
After having a class blog for many years, I have found that most families enjoy being able to keep up with classroom events and student learning.
Unfortunately, I have seen a number of teachers almost give up on their class blog because of the lack of parent participation and comments.
I often get asked how we get parents involved in our blogging community.
Our parents are no different to those in other classes. They are busy people who need education, encouragement and ongoing invitations to participate.
I have certainly discovered that you cannot leave parent participation to chance.
At the start of each year when I introduce my class to blogging, there are always many students and parents who don’t know anything about blogs.
I spend lot of the time at the start of the year helping my students learn about blogging, however, I have also come up with ways to educate the parents. This is very important. Parents won’t be willing or able to get involved in blogging if they don’t know anything about it.
As Linda Yollis says, everything is more powerful when parents are involved in their child’s learning so I definitely like to encourage parent participation in blogging.
Like students, parents have different learning preferences and I like to offer my parents a range of different means in which they can learn about blogging.
Introduction to blogging handout
On the first day of the school year I send home a blog permission note along with an information note.
You can find the PDF of both documents below.
The information note lets parents know things such as:
- What a blog is
- What our blog URL is
- Why we blog
- What our safety guidelines are
- FAQs based on common questions from previous years
Handout to help parents navigate the blog
There is a lot to know about effectively navigating the class blog so I created a handout for parents called 10 Steps to Navigating the 4KM and 4KJ Blog 2013
It includes information such as:
- blog jargon
- how to subscribe to email updates
- how to leave and reply to comments
- how to use our web app and Google calendar
- how to search the blog
- how to become part of our wider blogging community
A guide to navigating your class blog is even something students could create themselves.
Information on the blog
I have created a “learn about blogging” set of pages on our class blog. This explains to readers (including parents) what a blog is, why we blog and how to comment. For parents who prefer a more visual description, I have created a video explaining how to comment.
Here are some other ideas we’ve used to educate and encourage parents to become part of our blogging community.
- Parent Information Evening: When we have held these in the past, blogging is one of the areas we have covered.
- Family Blogging Afternoon: We have held a couple of these events where family members are invited into the classroom to learn about blogging. Find our 2012 example on our class blog here.
- Family Blogging Month: This is an idea that Linda Yollis created for her class. We have borrowed her idea many times as a way to encourage family participation in blogging. Family Blogging Month is basically a competition where students try to get as many family members as possible to comment on the class blog. See our 2012 example which resulted in around 800 comments for the month of May here.
- Email Subscription: It’s important to have an email subscription on your blog and make sure your students/parents know how to sign up. That way they will be notified when new posts are published.
- Fortnightly Parent Emails: We send fortnightly newsletters to all our parents. This is a great way to offer blogging news or tips (amongst other classroom news and reminders). You can also thank the parents who have been commenting and invite parents to comment on particular posts.
- Posts for Parents: Sometimes we write posts with questions for parents. Here is one post we published last year that was specifically designed for parents. This idea was originally inspired by Henrietta Miller.
- Virtual Volunteers: Linda Yollis has come up with the idea of calling on parents to be virtual volunteers on a roster basis. Rather than helping students in the classroom, they can assist online by replying to students and engaging in conversations.
I always try to reply to comments or have students reply. Of course this is not always possible but we do it as much as we can.
It is good blogging etiquette to reply and provides an example to students that comments are not just one-way; they are used to generate conversation and discussion. A great deal of learning can occur when conversations are developed.
Parents may not be encouraged to keep commenting if they don’t feel their comments are being valued or acknowledged.
Using my work
Want to use these ideas or modify my notes and handouts for your classroom use? Go ahead, I have included a CC-BY-NC license for the PDF files. Simply credit me as the original author and link back.