Reaching the Bernice Hart Elementary Community Through Technology

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Today Contributor: Jennifer Byer
I am Jennifer Byer at Bernice Hart Elementary ECP School which is part of the Northeast vertical team. This is my second year as CIC. I am also the librarian and co-webmaster at Hart. I have been a librarian on and off in Austin ISD for 12 years. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, cooking and reading. Twitter: @hartreadersroc1

One of the biggest challenges we have on campus is the desire to share technology with our parents. Most of our families may not have a computer at home, but they do have handheld devices. One of my goals as CIC has been to share pieces of technology with our parents  in hopes that they would embrace just one aspect of it to either stay better informed at school or to help with managing their students’ technology resources. 

As a campus, we decided each teacher would have a class homepage in Blend. The pages could be used for students, but also to communicate with parents. The Hart Community Page would also be a way to communicate with parents. In order to encourage parents, I have attended and presented at our monthly parent coffees, as well as Back to School Night. We hope to see Blend usage go up. One of the things we encourage parents to watch on our Community Page is our morning announcements through YouTube. This is one way for them to get daily information about school events and procedures. 

This year it was announced that we would also follow our vertical teams lead and become an elementary AVID campus.  One way to share the vast information with parents is to use our Blend Community Course for this as well. We are working on a video to show parents how to use the AVID binders, as well other AVID resources. We would then like to have these videos translated into the many languages that our campus uses.

Along with our focus on AVID is our desire to increase literacy on campus. Along these lines I have also been trying to train our parents and students to use our online resources for reading. These include Mackinvia, Tumblebooks, Capstone and PebbleGo for focus in elementary. I have presented these resources at the  principal coffees and I have shown parents how to download the apps. I reinforce the importance of these resources with lessons in the library and have had the students doing scavenger hunts with each resource to learn how to use them. Our teachers are also sharing these resources at the elementary parent conferences.  

Finally, with all the technology comes responsibility. In an ever changing digital world, I have also tried to educate our parents on technology do’s and don’ts to consider when having their children use technology. At our literacy night, as well as a parent coffee, I shared the common sense media webpage in Spanish and English. Parents appreciated a place to look for information about books, movies, websites and apps. They didn’t know a resource like this existed. 

For some of us using technology to gain information is second nature, for others, the technology at home may not be there or there may be a language barrier. Having various options for parents to communicate with our campus builds better relationships for all. As CIC, I feel that the technology piece must be presented to staff, students and parents in order for it to be successful. 

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