Teachers can create web pages that will increase their communication with parents and thus improve parental involvement, as well as direct their involvement in productive ways. The author identifies four elements that are critical to a teacher web page designed to encourage parental involvement:
1. Introduction to teacher, classroom, and course. Include your name, basic class rules and goals, link to school calendar and web site, lists of supplies needed, class news and photos (with parent permission), section for students to turn in homework, electronic mailing list, and request for parent volunteers during the year.
2. Outline of educational units to be covered during the semester and year. Include names and approximate start/end dates for each unit, link to state standards for each subject, and samples of projects in those units from past years.
3. Detailed information about educational units. Include homework assignments and larger projects, vocabulary words or specific math concepts to be attained, rubrics that define how students will be evaluated, sample test questions, links to web sites to be used in classroom instruction, and ideas about how parents can supplement their children’s education with more activities at home.
4. Real-time information about student progress. Include attendance, grades, class rank, and standardized test results.
Creating the web pages and updating them (sometimes only annually, sometimes more regularly) can be complicated. Several web portals offer pre-built web sites that are fairly easy to use and to modify to meet individual needs. The problem with many of these sites (www.eplay.com, www.highwired.com, www.achieve.com) is that they are supported by advertising, which may offend some parents.
Also, teachers should not feel that a site must be perfect before it is made available to parents. The complexity of the project most likely will require a multi-year investment to fill in all the pieces. Start smallperhaps a basic page that provides contact information, class rules and expectations, and a link to the school and district web sites. Maybe the grade and attendance records can be introduced in year twoafter consultation with school administrators about ways to protect individual students’ privacy.
Finally, few teachers can create these sites without help from school technology resource personnel. School administrators who believe in online communication should make the development of web sites a priority and provide training courses that reflect this priority.