Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Facebook for Parents - part 2

Some time ago I blogged about one of our teachers who has set up a Facebook group for the parents of students in her class.  Because I have had many other educators asking about how she actually went about doing this, I decided to interview her and ask her about her experience of using Facebook as a communication tool.

This was not the first tool that this teacher had tried to better connect and communicate with parents.  Last year she used Twitter but found it didn't work so well.  Over the summer she reflected on this and thought a diferent idea would be a Facebook page.  She chatted with another teacher who helped her set it up.

First of all she considered the privacy settings.  This group is only viewable to parents who are members of the group.  It's not available to friends of friends.  Next she set up a Google Form to ask parents for permission to post photos and to tag the parents in photos of the child.  That way no child would be tagged, yet the parents would be alerted when a new photo of their child was posted.  Parents had to agree not to share photos of the other children in the class.  The result of this survey was very positive - every parent in the class responded to the survey and accepted these conditions.  In addition all but one of the parents also friended this teacher on Facebook.

Next she set up a dedicated account for the class.  This account was made up of the teacher's name and the name of her class.  She started to post photos of things that were going on in class.  Then she started to post reminders for the parents.  Then she added on links to a newsletter she was writing using Google Docs.  After that she started adding on articles that she wanted parents to read, for example she posted one on how to be a better reader, one on goals for kindergarten students and another on best ways to help your child succeed in school.  She has also added videos of things she is doing in class.  Parents comment on these posts.  They give their thoughts and ask questions.  She responds to the questions - often these are questions that many parents have so they appreciate these Q&A discussions. In the evenings if she is on the Facebook group she says she often has parents chatting with her and asking further questions.  She feels she is communicating with parents using their preferred tool.

Other things she has shared on her Facebook page include YouTube videos for learning ABCs and maths videos that involve counting by 5s and 10s.  She has also posted links to videos that are being used during the units of inquiry.  What she has found is that this is a perfect tool to communicate with students too - they are excited and watch these videos at home on Facebook.  It's an interesting way of flipping the classroom with the help of parents.  She thinks that students see more educational videos at home this way, than if she posted links on a website because the parents are on Facebook every day, though they might not necessarily visit the school website on a daily basis.  For her, Facebook for Parents has been a great success.

Image Credit:  modified from Facebook vs Twitter Connections by Ethan Hein, 2010 Attribution 

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