The media works hard on sensationalizing the pitfalls for students using the internet and naturally many parents shut down and keep their children offline or hesitate to authorize their children's participation.
When you started out with a classroom wiki/ning /blog/etc -
What did you say to the parents to get them on board?
What CMS did you use?
Was your wiki/blog public or private.
If it was private how did you set up a private conference so that parents could participate and students keep it private?

Tags: classroom, internet, parent, safety, strategies

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When I first set up my HS Digital Communications class with a PBWiki and a ning account I never even thought about sharing with parents. I consider it part of my curriculum. The ning account is private, but that is to make my class feel free enough to share their ideas. Maybe I don't worry because of their age. With my elementary students, when I take them online I just warn them about what they might encounter, and my expectations for what they are to do if this happens. We occasionaly run across things that our filters don't block, but because I am matter of fact about it the students understand that it happens and to hit the back arrow and go on with what they are doing. I do use an ikeepbookmarks account, but it happens. I have never had an upset parent over the internet, but oddly enough, when I was the librarian part time at our primary library, the Berenstain Bears First Date garnered some very angry parents.
Hi Lorna

What I use to convice the parents are the results. I started my podcasting quietly in the classroom. It was behind a password at first so I did not need any permission. I would give the kids mp3's to take home for those students who did not have internet access to watch them online. When their students test scores went up, and in many cases they started to pass, they became interested. This is about a year since I started it, and I now have two websites-- my school site with my classroom blog (password protected) and www.masterymaze.com housing the podcasts (not behind a password). Everyone is on board and they are thrilled. Many of my students' parents went out to buy iPods or mp3's for their kids to use this past Christmas! I do not have to give too many out any longer. So in my experience....If you build it , and it works to help their kids, generally, they will come.....

The benefit analysis will make it work! Sue P
Thanks Sue. I am currently helping 2 young grade 7 teachers develop their own classroom blogs. I use wordpress but would appreciate hearing what blogging platform you use for your classroom blog. Is it an "outside" blog or does it use school system resources?
DId you use one password for all students? Did you have problems with the password given out to people outside your classroom? I think I have said this before but I think that your blog is an excellent example of a classroom blog.
Our school site is a schoolwires site though BOCES. Feel free to take a look at my page at www.akronschools.org/palmer. We have a generic password for all students to use. Their blog posts are identified as they have to put their names in the posts. I have one blog for each class I teach and it is for posting work only. The assignments are in the Subjects sections- I have a page for every chapter I teach. We have really had few problems. I approve the posts before they go up so it really takes care of alot of the siiues. If it isn't appropriate, no one sees it.

Our district has done a nice job with the site overall, I think. I like the schoolwires platform. I started the MasteryMaze site as I was having issues with running the podcasts on the school site, and I wanted to be able to control my own content, share the podcasts with the online community, and create a collaborative place. My site lets me use YouTube and other options which I cannot on the school site as I cannot embed there.
Sue
Thank you Sue - exciting things happening in your class. May I publish the link to your akronschools.org page?Lorna
Sure. Thanks!
I get parent permission at the beginning of every year for internet use, photo release, student email, publishing student work, penpals, blogging, online book discussions, etc. When we start something new (blog, wiki, Moodle, website) I just send a letter to parents with explanation of why we are doing whatever it is. We've included a few parents in our classroom blog, I've like that. I agree with Michal that usage of these tools are part of the curriculum and we will do what we can to keep kids safe.
Thank you Nancy for your suggestions.
Lorna
When I started using class blogs last year, I brought in my principal and superintendent and just got started. I was the first teacher in my district to use a class blog, and I was worried that if I brought in the parents and even one of them objected, the idea would be stillborn. I was banking on the fact that it would work and it did and the parents loved it (and still do).

This year (actually about a month ago), I introduced a classroom Ning for one of my sections of 8th grade science. Before doing so, I brought in the parents and walked them through the site and what I planned to do with it. (I actually used Classroom 2.0 as the model site).

What sold them was the ability for the students to collaborate with me and each other effortlessly and that I was interested in their students having their own voice.
Gerald,

I was thinking about doing a blog using a private Ning next year with my 8th grade science class. How did it work out? Did you concentrate on them using the blog feature or the forum, or both? Any other advice?

Thanks, Kevin
Kevin,

Thanks for asking.

The students really liked being able to customize their own pages and upload their own photos, video, and music. While this was not about learning science, it positively impacted their sense of ownership in the learning environment.

I created a class calendar using Google Calendar, which I embedded in the Main Page and which they really used.

I also used it to post assignments (like with a blog) to which they had to respond and discuss. Since it was a private network, the discussions were really good and open.

I also embedded documents (via Scribd) and slideshows (via Slideshare) which was a great way of distributing various class documents.

I also embedded a chat widget and would hold online office hours the night before a test.

I feel that I could have made more effective use of it, but consider the experiment definitely worth doing.

Let me know if I can help at all with your efforts.
Gerald

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