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This school year we will be implementing a web-based mathematics program for our elementary school students. I’m putting together a technology workshop for parents to help prepare them for what their children will be doing. The workshop will include all elementary school parents, including those of children with special needs and English Language Learners. What are some recommendations for the workshop that might help these parents be better prepared for their children’s online learning experiences?

If the parents in your school district are not familiar with online learning, and the platform you will be using, it might be helpful to start out with a discussion of why you chose to use technology to teach mathematics, and how the tool you’re using might benefit your students. It’s possible that parents will be skeptical about using online technology tools such as virtual manipulatives or math games, so highlight benefits(opens in a new window) for(opens in a new window) students(opens in a new window), particularly those with disabilities or who are non-English speakers. In particular, parents should hear about how technology usage can help teachers differentiate instruction and meet the needs of a variety of learners.

An excellent way of preparing parents and helping them to understand the online system you are using is to make the workshop engaging and interactive. If teachers will be using interactive whiteboards during classroom instruction, ask parents to come up and manipulate objects(opens in a new window) on screen, or solve word problems. Parents should also have an opportunity to experiment with the various features of the online system and should be given access to the same things their students will see. If there is a parent section of your online program, be sure that parents understand how to use it. Be sure to also provide resources for parents to engage in mathematics activities at home with their children. If students will be using the online system outside of school, parents can participate in completion of activities or modules. You may also opt to provide parents with suggestions for math games they can play with their children to help solidify skills.

Possible sites to include on a parent resource list:

FunBrain(opens in a new window)

Math Playground(opens in a new window)

PBS Kids Play(opens in a new window)

Funschool (opens in a new window)

BBC Numeracy Games(opens in a new window)

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