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Tech Activities for Parent Open House

What will you do at parent open house night to demonstrate that your classroom is one in which technology will be used appropriately and effectively? The Ed World Tech Team has some suggestions.

We asked the Education World Tech Team to recommend technology-related activities or projects that students could create in class and you could display at Parent Open House to demonstrate that "this is a classroom in which technology will be used." Their suggestions run the gamut of grade levels and tech know-how. Is one of their ideas perfect for you?

"One of the things that can be done," said tech coordinator Bob Reich, "is to have students create multimedia presentations depicting the experiences they had over the summer. Some students might use slide show technology to create their presentations; others might choose video/DVD. It depends on what's available. Having students create that kind of presentation early in the school year also can be a great introductory exercise to help them get to know a bit more about one another."


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For Open House, the individual presentations can be combined into a single show, if you only have a single classroom computer, or run simultaneously on several computers. If students have their own laptops, each can be running as parents and students circulate about the room.

"I've also used the multimedia approach to have students create a representation of a summer reading that they were required to complete," Reich added. "Characters and scenes are incorporated into the presentation, along with audio narration and any other components that might be appropriate.

"Another idea is to have students create electronic portfolios of their activities over the summer or even during the school year," Reich said. "Students can use PowerPoint to create their portfolios; including pictures and scanned pieces of their work as well. The portfolio also can include research on related topics, which might include clips and other material from the Internet. Sounds and graphics can be added, as well as animations. Graphics from Excel might be integrated too. The portfolios can be projected using an LCD projector or set up on multiple laptops and set to loop while parents walk around the room and look at other items on display."

For younger students, choose "something graphic or colorful," suggested 3rd grade teacher Stu Pruslin. "A short story with an illustration, for example. For primary grades, maybe something dictated or copied. At this level, almost anything will get across the message that technology will be used. The actual content is probably less critical this early in the year. If it's for Parents' Night, presentation is the main thing.

"I use Kid Pix a lot with my various K-5 groups," said teacher Katy Wonnacott. "We each make a picture of our school, ourselves, what we did over the summer -- the usual themes -- and then write a quick sentence, and our names. I then have the kids who finish earliest assemble the pictures into what Kid Pix calls a Slide Show. We post it on one computer in a continuous loop for parents to see at Open House night.

"PowerPoint presentations composed of pictures of each student and a quick sentence work well, too," Wonnacott noted. "I take a picture of each child at his/her desk, load them into PowerPoint and have students, one at a time, write a sentence of welcome to mom and dad. I want to expand on that idea this year with my eighth grade students. Because this is their last year here, I plan to use my Mavica to take a small video clip of each of my 8th graders and then ask each of them to relate a grade school memory."

"I also have third graders make their own slide shows of math facts, with and without the answer," said Wonnacott. "I loop these together and show them on one computer, as well. My fifth graders currently are making PowerPoint presentations about our 50 states, researching and displaying facts as a technological poster, which I hope to be able to display at Open House night too."

"I recommend a hypermedia activity -- hypermedia meaning both graphics and linking," Patrick Greene told Education World. "It doesn't matter if students use Hyperstudio, PowerPoint in a non-linear hypermedia manner, or one of the alternatives, like mPower. The teacher simply needs to develop a project that small teams of students can approach in their own manner as they develop an informative hypermedia project."

"At open house," Greene noted, "the teacher can display as many projects as possible -- one to a computer. Parents can navigate through them to see what their kids can do. Hypermedia projects also can be posted online. Those parents who cannot attend the open house can still navigate through the class' projects through their Web browser."

"For the teacher who has advanced computer skills," Lucy Gray told Education World, "I'd recommend doing a podcast of material you plan to cover with parents at Open House. Publish the podcast after the actual event so parents can download the audio file and listen to it on their computer or on their iPod. That really could be helpful to parents who miss open house, as well as to parents who want to review information. Mabry Online has some great examples of podcasts that benefit both parents and teachers. Teachers also might record students reflections on an assignment or on a particular aspect of school and make a podcast of their reflections too."

"For less technically inclined teachers," Gray suggested digital photos in a slideshow format. "These always are a good way of giving parents an idea of what is going on in your classroom. Slide shows can be created in iPhoto or PowerPoint. They can be jazzed up by having students narrate the shows or by including music created by the students."

"I also think it's important for teachers to set up some method of electronic communication with parents," Gray said. "Open House is a good time to make parents aware of a class Web page. Teachers can build free Web pages at these sites:

Open House also is a good time to introduce parents to your classroom blog, said Art Lader. "Classroom blogs can be both informative and creative." Don't know how to start one? Check out BlogMeister, WordPress, or one of the other easy online blogging tools.


Who Are They?

The Education World Tech Team includes more than 50 dedicated and knowledgeable educational-technology professionals who have volunteered to contribute to occasional articles that draw on their varied expertise and experience. The following Tech Team members contributed to this article:

* Lucy Gray, middle school computer science teacher, The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Chicago, Illinois
* Patrick Greene, PhD, professor of education, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Meyers, Florida
* Art Lader, teacher, Aiken High School, Aiken, South Carolina
* Stew Pruslin, teacher, J. T. Hood School, North Reading, Massachusetts
* Katy Wonnacott, teacher, Signal Hill School, Belleville, Illinois
* Bob Reich, technology coordinator, The Janus School, Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania


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Updated 08/16/2011