In Businessinsider’s most recent publication, Jillian D’Onfro states that the average Facebook user spends 20 or more minutes a day.
LetsShare, the new teacher-parent communication app, engages parents in their children’s day-to-day activities and education. LetsShare’s July 2015 statistics reveal that parents spent an average of 10 minutes or more a day using the app! Most frequented activities include sharing classroom journals with their child and one-to-one communication with teachers.
The LetsShare Team started with a vision to develop an app that would make the teacher-parent Educational Partnership utopia possible.
What’s an Educational partnership?
The association of stakeholders such as community members, teachers, parents and students, creates a more engaging and student-centered learning environment that extends beyond the classroom walls. The team that cooperates and communicates, gains insight on each child’s uniqueness (background, family life, interests, intelligences, classroom activities etc.). This not only achieves personal goals, but sets benchmarks for their age group!
LetsShare provides a visionary approach in presenting teacher’s daily input via journal format which streamlines information, highlights learning aspects, provides opportunity to share links and documents, so learning and sharing continues outside of the classroom!
See LetsShare in action in this case study video on Youtube.
You’ve undoubtedly noticed it: parents’ participation in children’s daily school routines is an issue close to my heart! While searching for easy ways to improve dialog—and cooperation—between parents and teachers, I recently got to know Heather Noreen and her app “LetsShare” (thanks, social networks!). How has this globetrotting businesswoman decided to use technology in the classroom to better parent-teacher communication?
Heather has made the same observation in at least 5 countries (France, Spain, Belgium, U.S. and Canada): parents would love to be transformed into a little mouse so as to see what their children do in class everyday. And yet, as I’ve said in one of my articles, barriers to communication can be found on both sides.
Heather decided to take on one part of the problem: the practical side of communication. Her belief can be summed up in a few words: make communicating easier, and it’ll lessen general hesitation to reach out; mentalities will change, and children will be the ones to gain the most. So, in 2014, she threw herself into the creation of an app for tablets and smartphones that would meet the needs of teachers and parents.
Parents and teachers share the same needs when it comes to communication
As I write this, 3 preschools and elementary schools are already using the app LetsShare for a pilot program. The app offers a multitude of functions for schools to use depending on their needs:
- Gather practical, and some times legally required, information regarding kids’ well-being and health (e.g. naptime, quantity or number of bottles…)
- Send a daily report of activities, with, of course, photos
- Keep together all information and photos pertaining to a project in a specific folder
- Allow parents and teachers to exchange information.
I had the pleasure of meeting Amy, the mother of a 5-year-old child. Amy has been using the app for around 5 months.
Isabelle: Hi, Amy. Can you please tell us how the app LetsShare has improved communication between you and your child’s teacher?
Amy: In terms of logistics, we could only communicate by email before. The teacher couldn’t always read e-mails in the morning, so sometimes she’d get the information too late. Now, I know for sure that the teacher will find out in time if my child slept well or if he has a stomachache that day.
In terms of information concerning the kids’ activities, we were really lucky even before using the app that the teacher sent an email every night with a summary of the day. But it took her a lot of time, and, in the end, only a handful of parents read these emails. Now, I think about 50% of the class’s parents use the app, and the teacher saves a ton of time.
Isabelle: Does the teacher have less time with the kids because of spending time documenting daily activities?
Amy: No, each child learns to take photos. So the teacher doesn’t always have her eyes glued on her tablet. Usually, the kids decide what they want to photograph. They feel more actively involved in their activities, and they have to learn to share the tablet!
Isabelle: Has using this app changed the way you communicate with your child?
Amy: Yes! Just having the photos and a bit of explanatory text along with it allows me to better understand and put into context what my child tells me. I can then ask more questions. He’s always proud to show me his photos, and he’s often the one who will want to show me something on the app. It allows us to have precious, intimate moments.
If I wanted to share this app with you today, it’s not because of technical details or specific features. I just really loved Heather’s practical approach and her goal to change mindsets by introducing new methods and habits. Often, we complain that technology dehumanizes communication. So, of course, if we’re happy to look at photos of a field trip to the zoo while our child sleeps and then never talk about it again, or if teachers think that, since all the details are online, there’s no longer a need to meet parents, then Heather’s app is just beating a dead horse.
But if, as I imagine it will do, communication will be strengthened, it’s because the app gives children an active role, as Amy states it so well. It’s the kids who will remind their parents that there is a beautiful photo of their cardboard medieval castle on the site; it’s the kids who will show teachers that while at home, they managed to come up with 10 words that rhyme with “happiness,” along with a photo of the list as proof. Numerous teachers have already taken up a similar effort by creating blogs with their classes or Twitter counts, and the feedback has largely been positive because of the enthusiasm that grows out of children’s pride in their creations.
Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation from LetsShare for writing this article.
Hey chicos! I’m Tuned in Tony.
I’ve always loved moving around in vehicles and going places. I couldn’t sit still for a minute except when I wore my favorite yellow hat to watch trucks and machines on construction sites.
That’s when it happened… I was watching a crew working on a new building, so I was very concentrated on the crane loading all the bricks. As the crane lifted the new load of bricks, I noticed that one of the cords was on the brink of letting go. There was an elderly lady walking by. I ran quickly, took her hand and walked her to safety before the bricks tipped off the platform on to the sidewalk.
My TUNED IN super powers came to me and the three gray antennas came out of my yellow hat. Since then, I have learned to concentrate on others things too. I realized that I was probably missing out on other important events, so now I “tune in” more often.
“THE DRIFT IN EDUCATION” by Heather Noreen
Drift (definition from Google search engine)
- be carried slowly by a current of air or water.
- be blown into heaps by the wind.
Education or our school system today is well represented by both definitions.
The state took education out of parents’ hands between the 19th and 20th century. Educators, parents and students/children have all drifted along quite successfully until the recent age of technology and readily available information.
Now this wind of technology has put the educational world into a flurry which often forms drifts.
Teachers who have trouble embracing their role as a facilitator are desperately holding on; while less risk-averse teachers are held back by the growing importance of standardized testing. In the middle of these drifts, we can still find brightness such as thought provoking scholars like Howard Gardner and new innovative educational models in Finland.
Parents are creating drifts of their own:
- those who have abandoned their educational role as a parent to the school system
- those who criticize without supporting/helping to improve often striping away any respect a student could have for this institution
- those who have left the public school system partially or completely to follow their own paths
Children/students are torn by their intrinsic desire to “learn” about things around them as they are being blown around all these drifts. They lose respect for parents and teachers as they feel their NEW world is misunderstood or unappreciated by their elders.
Unfortunately, the wind will most likely keep them close to the nearest drifts leading to a highly divided society, one in which instead of empowering them to fly, we will deposit them into a pile.
CAN THE PROVERB “It takes a village to raise a child” STILL APPLY TO MODERN DAY SOCIETY?
Before the 19th century the family and neighbors represented the most important source of instruction and now in the 21st century children are left to their own “devises and devices”. The lack of interest and desire to understand this new highly connected world on behalf of educators leads to a higher disrespect on behalf of students/children.
As in any situation, change will need to come from within. The people will need to recognize there is no “right or wrong” or “left or right party” in education. We need to reunite as people who regard “learning” important at ANY age.
We could learn to recognize parents as peers in the educating process, sharing with each other knowledge and experience as we connect in the learning process of our students/children. This new educative team includes the students as their semi-peers as a more “facilitator” approach to teaching emerges
The educative team respects each other’s differences and learns from each other to create a better world. Through this mutual agreement, educators (parents and teachers) will remain models which children so desperately need as they grow up. In my opinion, one of Howard Gardner’s greatest pieces of advice is his most simplistic “Kids never listen to what you say, but they always notice what you do.” It is imperative that we learn to use technology even if we have to ask them to be our teachers.
In an “App System” learning is a mutual venture emerging from the child’s desire to learn and participate with the teacher who leads and communicates and observing parents who connect. However, the way the system works now, most teachers don’t actually get to meet the parents (one to one) before the first parent/teacher conference (6-8 weeks into the school year) unless something goes REALLY wrong. In that case, the first contact is negative which doesn’t foster trusting relationships between families and schools.
I recognize and acknowledge the common view that minimizes “apps” in today’s society yet even Howard Gardner supports apps that enable new situations. As educators we need to become models for the use of apps by becoming app enabling.
WHAT BETTER WAY THAN TO ENABLE COMMUNICATION
We all agree that learning can be a positive and rewarding situation especially when we can share it and find meaning by applying it.
We all agree that learning can be done at all ages.
Why should it be limited from 8am to 3pm on Monday through Friday?
If topics are of interest and the right questions are asked, kids will want to share and expand on that knowledge at home with their families. They might even want to share their discoveries or new questions the next day with their classmates or teacher.
Yes of course, most of you would say that this is limited to a certain income class. Yet if we work as a community, we might find solutions to help those in need. We could work with associations, write for grants or be creative by organizing old tablet/smartphone donations.
The app revolution has also contributed to minimalize social inequity. Many apps are free and accessible by mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. These devices are less expensive than their counterpart computer with onerous software licenses.
BECOME EDUCATIONAL PARTNERS THROUGH APP ENABLEMENT
Teachers can now easily communicate with all parents putting them on equal ground. They can give parents a peek inside their child’s day through pictures and comments (something to help parents connect with their children), but also give them fuel for further learning at home by posting content (interesting web pages, YouTube video links or interesting apps).
Many apps also provide an interactive experience giving families the possibility to share with teachers. They could set goals to work and document them through the app.
Now schools, stigmatized in some communities, can change their image. Teachers can have a POSITIVE influence outside of school walls connecting with families through technology “they use” such as texting vs. emailing. Now even lower income and divorced parents can finally feel comfortable as an educator and important role model for their children.
Teachers that engage families by caring and sharing will empower their students and reap the rewards of a satisfying career raising the future leaders of our society.
What are we waiting for?
The App Generation by Gardner Howard, Katie Davis
Howard Gardner – The App Generation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8E4u5uVJiI#t=792
Hola! My name is Creative Kris from the Amazing Amigos.
I always thought that I got my super CREATIVE powers, because I love to decorate everything. My paintbrush is never still as I add color to all the objects around me bringing them to life. I’m passionate about COLORS. They all have special meaning for me like yellow is exciting, blue is peaceful, and pink is lovely.
Although I’ve come to realize that my creativity shows in other ways too! Once I was in a hurry on my way to see a sick friend and I came to a dead end in the forest. There were many trees surrounded by high bushes with sharp thorns. I was so upset, because my friend needed me urgently. As I sat down, my back against the tree, an idea came to me. I took my faithful paintbrush and painted a hole on one of the trees. I got on my hands and knees and crawled right through it.
That day I realized that creativity is lots of things that aren’t just beautiful. I often think about the author of my favorite book as I read it over and over again. He is really creative too, so I guess creativity is all about using your imagination!