Since a large part of my students’ education happens at home, I plan to increase the support I am able to provide those students in their homes by adding a number of new information pages to my classroom website. These pages will cover literacy, numeracy, and social emotional learning topics.
This week, I take a look at the learner/user considerations of my website development project. For each type of potential user, I discuss their needs, potential use, anticipated challenges, and the method through which I will share this project.
Primary Users: Parents and Adult Family Members
The primary users of this website will be parents and/or other adult family members of my students. After almost a year in my current position, I’ve noticed that many parents ask for direction about how to set up an effective learning environment and teach their children at home (because teaching is much different from parenting). The same questions, particularly about literacy and social emotional learning, come up time and time again. A lack of information for parents new to DL schooling often leads them to feel overwhelmed. This website will provide information to educate parents about pedagogy and introduce parents to common teaching practices.
Additionally, some parents are also learning with their children. They may not know the material or techniques they are teaching their children, so look for instructional texts or videos before working with their children. This happens particularly in math (especially with manipulatives and mental math techniques) and reading/writing strategies.
The biggest challenge I anticipate is making the pages both informative and understandable. I need the content to be educational, but not dense in terminology. To help with this, I will target the language and content on my web pages to a beginning level and provide links to other pages for further reading. However, just like in the classroom, I can also encourage participation by making the material as relevant and engaging as possible. Some ideas are to make this magazine-like, with fewer words and shorter paragraphs, bullet points, more images or links, and the use of headings and white space (Dawn, Connell). Creating a video tour will introduce parents to the navigation and content of the website, and keeping it up-to-date will make the content relevant (Connell).
Another challenge I anticipate revolves around sharing this information with parents. How will I encourage parents to visit the website, and how will I know if they are using it? I plan to share the website through email and in person contact (phone calls and meetings), prompting parents to visit the pages most applicable to their child at that time. It has been recommended that using a “call-to-action” will give parents a reason to visit the website (Gonzalez). To do this, I am sending home the materials to make a retelling rope with their children, then directing them to a video on the website that will show them how to assemble it (I do also discuss the importance and application of retelling at the meeting and demonstrate with my retelling rope).
Finally, to address both challenges, I will also ask for regular feedback from parents at our regular meetings or possibly through a survey.
Secondary Users: Students and Siblings
Secondarily, I also anticipate that my students (or even their siblings) may use this website. Even though these students are working from home, it is still important for them to experience their teacher modelling new concepts, as part of the gradual release of responsibility. Parents and students can watch video tutorials together when learning new material.
For example, one of the literacy pages will contain a video about retelling ropes. I will introduce the concept and provide an example of using a retelling rope to get my students started with a concept new to our class.
The biggest challenge with this will be time. My top priority is filling the website with information for parents, then I will focus on student content. Therefore, there will not be a lot of content for students in the beginning; this is more of a long-range plan. However, I would eventually like to see more content for students as well as interaction between students to build a community feel. In essence, this may begin to feel a little like a flipped classroom, where students learn topics at home then participate in community activities to apply their learning (Bedrina).
Another challenge will be making this a safe place for students to explore information at their own developmental level. But how can I make one website appropriate for all 5 grades and a variety of learners? My focus on videos will help with this because most students are much more fluent in oral language than written so I don’t need to worry as much about struggling or pre-readers. I can also create a student specific page with kid-friendly icons.
Bonus Users: Colleagues and the General Public
Finally, this website is open to the public so I expect colleagues and other community members to eventually find this website. While I am not specifically planning for this user base, I would be happy if it helped people beyond the walls of our class.
In particular, I’m thinking about my other colleagues in the elementary division of my school. Since I am the longest service teacher, other teachers have been coming to me with questions too. Hopefully my website will help spread what I am learning through my professional development, inform colleagues about the particular needs of DL families, and provide them with resources they can share with their families too.
After a week to think about and begin the project, I now have answers to some of the questions and considerations from last week.
So far, I have created a page for each topic, organized under three main headings for ease of use: literacy, numeracy, and social emotional learning (though I expect the numeracy page to be left until later because it is outside the scope of this project). I have also created a standard template so there is consistency in the look and use of each page.
The social emotional pages are complete and I am waiting for a meeting with my LART on Monday to go over the content. At that point, they will be released live on my class website for parents to access right away. The literacy pages will follow this week (writing) and next week (reading).
Is there anything you would like to see on a website like this? Is there anything you feel, as a parent, would help you better support your child’s education? Are there any considerations I’ve forgotten? Let me know in the comments below!
Bedrina, Olga, “The Flipped Classroom: Does It Actually Work?.” Wave.video, https://wave.video/blog/the-flipped-classroom-does-it-actually-work/.
Connell, Gina. “Rethinking the Weekly Newsletter.” Scholastic, 2017, https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/blog-posts/genia-connell/17-18/Rethinking-the-Weekly-Newsletter/.
Dawn. “How to Get Parents to Actually Read Your Class Newsletter.” Pollywog Place, 2017, https://www.polliwogplace.com/how-to-get-parents-to-actually-read-your-class-newsletter/.
Gonzalez, Jennifer. “Why No One Reads Your Classroom Newsletter.” Laura Candler’s Teaching Resources, https://www.lauracandler.com/why-no-one-reads-your-newsletter/.
Robinson, Jarrod. “Episode 94 – Building a Physed Classroom Website.” The PE Geek, 2017, https://thepegeek.com/2017/09/episode-94-building-a-physed-classroom-website/.
5 thoughts on “Vision of the Future Part 2: Learner Considerations”
Hi Kristi. I thought I’d check or your blog and your final project, since I haven’t had a chance to catch up with you this semester. What great ideas for your project! I love the way you’ve designed everything. You’ve covered all odd the affected I think is want to know as a parent. I think the videos will be great!
Hopefully we can get together soon.
Great post! I really love the way you walked us through your thinking and planning. It sounds like this is a great website – and I love that it’s already going live and being used! It’s so tricky to narrow down our scope to a manageable-sized project when we have such big ideas. I think you’ve got a great (and realistic) time line down for this site.
I’m excited to check it out! Good luck!
Thanks Kelli! I’m also finding it difficult to narrow down my ideas – I have so many page ideas that I can’t possibly do all of them for this project. However, that just means this is just a start to a website that I’ll continue to update throughout my tenure in this position. I think it will be enough to see how useful it is for my students and their parents and motivate me to continue beyond this course.
It’s not live yet – a little behind scheduled due to illness. It also feels a lot less realistic now that I’m in the middle of report card writing. However, I’m hoping to get back to it on the weekend and start the literacy pages. I am excited for what it is going to offer, even at the beginning.
Mine is not live either-I’m in the same boat as you with too many ideas for what I can reasonably accomplish at the moment (reports, reports, reports!!).
I’m making an update/new ideas page for this 🙂
That’s a good idea. I’ve just been creating the blank page as a draft so it’s there when I’m ready.
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