Making The Shift is a monthly newsletter to share stories, resources, and ideas around environmental education through inquiry-based learning. Let's collaborate!
  
Classroom Blogging = Family Involvement
  


It is the end of a busy day in our Kindergarten room. Throughout the day we have been excitedly checking on the caterpillars and discovering more have transformed into pupae. I want to help the children share their excitement, wonders and observations with their families at home so I upload some photos to our classroom blog while adding the science language we are learning and the wonders we might have.  There. Seed planted. Now the families can water this ‘seed’ with conversations at home and we can all benefit from the resulting growth. 

Blogging - paired with inquiry - has changed my teaching and has deeply impacted my students’ learning.  Parents develop a connection to school and understand more about what their child does all day. Family conversations about school have become richer and deeper, which in turn makes our classroom discussions richer and deeper. The children are having detailed conversations about their learning and understanding. Oral language opportunities? Check! Language used at school transferred to home? Check!
      
For the past three years, I have been blogging about our learning in my Kindergarten or K/1 classroom. This year I have noticed a dramatic increase in family involvement in our classroom investigations, perhaps in part because: Inquiry begs to be documented, shared and added to. I add provocations to the blog posts and suggest specific questions for parents to ask their child. I invite families to send in items to add to our investigations. Families take on their own investigations, take photos or make videos and send them to the class and….my teacher heart sings!
        

While I have witnessed this amazing impact in the classroom, I wondered what the parents’ value about the blog.  So I asked them!  Here are some of their comments:
  • After we get the update, we sit as a family around the kitchen table and read the blog out loud.
  • It allows us working parents to feel a connection to what our daughter has learned, to stay up to date on specific tools, catch phrases and learning outcomes for her kindergarten class.
  • We have recorded and sent in learning experiments for her to share her learning and build her speaking confidence.
  • When we read the blog and look at the pictures together, the stories start to flow.  Otherwise we hear: “I had a good day” and “I can’t remember what we did today”. 
  • It makes it easier to keep a conversation going when you know what really happened.
  • Without the blog, we wouldn’t truly know all the excitement that was happening at school.
  • We have been learning with our son which is much more than we had anticipated from his kindergarten.
  • It really makes me feel like I am in the class without being there.
  • With his little sister sharing so much detail about her learning, our older son is compelled to tell more detail about his day too! 
  • The blog allows me to clarify things he might not have understood while at school.
  • It really makes it feel like we (parents and sibling) are part of the projects they are doing and it helps us know how we can contribute.
  • Grandparents love to see what their grandkids are doing at school especially when they are living so far away.  
  • It helps to provide for very rounded Skype/Facetime calls with grandparents since they are engaged with his day to day learning.
  • I think blogging is great especially in kindergarten because a lot of parents go from knowing what their child does every second of the day to not knowing what their child does for a big chunk of the day.
I am a parent too.  When I blog, I try to include what I might want to know as a parent and pair it with what I want to share as a teacher.  I consider the blog as part of our classroom learning.  Not an add-on but part of the whole.  Blogging has become a natural part of my practice in documenting student learning.  It summarizes our learning and allows parents to glimpse their child’s individual learning too.  Does it take time?  Yes.  Is it undeniably worth it?  Absolutely!

If you would like to read about what is happening in our classroom, click here.  

Science Teachers Association of Ontario
(STAO)

The Laboratory School gave STAO copyright permission to include two figures from Natural Curiosity in an introductory overview of the topic of teaching science through inquiry that is posted on the STAO website.

   

“This Expert Element on Inquiry is designed to support teachers in making the shift to teaching science through inquiry. Use this information to help direct your own learning and to enhance student learning through inquiry.” Check it out here


Who should attend?

Kindergarten and Elementary educators of all grades who wish to explore how authentic inquiry is being applied to address expectations in social studies, science, language and other subjects.

School administrators and system leaders who wish to support transformative inquiry-based learning.

Toronto, ON - July 5th to 6th (flyer)

Stirling, ON - July 20th to 21st (flyer)

Toronto, ON - Aug. 23rd to 24th(flyer)

Sudbury, ON - Nov. 8th to 9th (flyer)


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Natural Curiosity: Building Children's Understanding of the World Through Environmental Inquiry
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