I start a new quarter with new kids next Wednesday, so I have a little more than a week to think some of this through. But right now, I’m considering offering parents the ability to stay tuned to what’s happening with their kids and my class in ways they’ve never been offered, I’m sure.
There are a couple of obvious ways to do this. First, I’m going to offer making them a part of the distribution list for the class homepage, the homework page (which I just realized I really don’t need if I just make homework posts to the homepage) and thier child’s Web log. All they need to do is send me their e-mails (and then we’ll see how long it takes their kid to erase it from their own site.) The other way, a way that I still need to work through a bit, is to get them to subscribe to an RSS feed from these sites. Obviously, RSS isn’t the greatest solution with just two or three sites. Once you get to around 20-30, it does make a huge difference. But I’m thinking maybe I can get a couple of them hooked on the idea anyway and include our feeds to others I show them they could subscribe to (like the NY Times, etc.) The other consideration is the aggregator…I’m going to have to help them through some set up to accomplish this.
The bigger question is whether or not they might want to actually participate in what their children do. Should I leave it up to the kids to decide whether or not they want feedback from their parents? Or maybe I should set up a parents’ J-Talk page where they can chat about whatever they see going on in the world or the class or whatever. (I have a feeling this might get about half a dozen or so to start but that it might fizzle out.)
All of this assumes, however, that parental participation is a good idea. It certainly could change the dynamics in a number of ways if parents had regular, easy-to-access information on what was happening in their children’s classes AND on the work their children were doing. Would it increase student achievement? Would it build community? Would it piss kids off? I keep thinking that as a parent, it would be pretty cool to get regular information on all of that.
(UPDATE: Just a few minutes after completing the above, I find this: Mary Hess, a mother, and her son’s Web log in which she (and others) interact with him. How cool is that?)
Anyway, just throwing out some ideas. As always, feedback welcomed.