Staff at Mahurangi Christian School discuss how the school connects the classroom to the community through digital technologies.
Building a strong community is very important in our school, and we have had several parent meetings in which we’ve helped them to understand where we are going and to learn how they can engage with us more. This term we’ve started a school blog to replace our weekly newsletter, and on that we have a message from the Principal, and weekly notices, and community notices. We are looking forward to our parents being able to engage in this more. It takes a little while for parents to transition.
We had our first digital exhibition last year. It was a result of a week’s collaborative learning in which the children were grouped with a younger child, a middle school primary school child, and an older Year 7 or 8 child. And in their group of three they had to create an item on the iPad that they could do a QR code for, or an Aurasma, and we had a digital exhibition around that at the end of last year. This was new for our school but fun for the parents to realise that they could engage with their children’s learning in this way. And we are in the process of working on another one in which the children are doing their own investigations. They have the freedom to present their findings in whatever form they choose. Each child will have their own booth and parents will be invited to come and walk around the booths. Because it’s a history context we’ll have QR codes, Aurasma’s, videos and all manner of different things, whatever the children have decided, and the parents will be able to engage with each child on their learning as they go through this at the end of the year.
Bringing the parents along with our journey has been important to us. Firstly we had a grandparents day last year and it was great to be able to Skype in grandparents from overseas so that they could have a tour of the school from their armchair in the States. And it’s been lovely to follow that up with blogs that the parents, grandparents can be involved in. And also we have a Facebook page, and so the grandparents and other friends can be well up with what we are doing in the school. We have a regular assembly and parents come to that, and we share our MCSTV with the parents.
We have had numbers of little videos that our children have developed that tell stories, and that’s been great for the parents to see as well as for the children to have that audience. Because now our whole school has 1:1 iPads, we are looking forward to helping our parents on that journey for themselves. We’ll be setting them up with the help of their children on the blog so that they can all have access to it. We’ll be getting them to understand how to use the class websites and the various programmes that we’re operating.
Parents are very quick to reply to those emails and to fill the form in. So, we suddenly found instead of trying to find permission slips all over the place in kids bags, and stuff like that, it was already fed into our spreadsheet and quickly. So, not only could I access it easily, the teachers are able to access it very easily as well.
We want to be connected with the families, and we want our parents to know what our children are learning and our children to know that their parents are interested.