Saturday, January 17, 2015

Family Tech Night


"Family Tech Night" came to mind  with the vision of families connecting with their children and experiencing the exciting opportunities a 1:1 technology initiative has to offer. My goal is to have family members leaving realizing the value of technology in education.

Holding family meetings is not something new to my schools. Previous to this school year, the meetings I've held have been strictly informational and mostly covered digital citizenship topics. Though the informational meetings are important, I often left those meeting feeling like the parents did not benefit a whole lot from the experience.



To start off the evening, I give a five-minute ordeal about digital footprint. This part is essential as we talk about how permanent our behavior is online. When I ask for a show of hands of people that were aware that everything they do online is traceable, less than half of the audience responds. So that begs me to question: how can we expect our children to behave online if it isn't reinforced at home? That that the topic of digital citizenship is ignored, but that it just isn't known. To assist with this issue, I also post Common Sense Media content on the schools' websites along with family tech night.
Here is a great video I like to use on Family Tech Night:


My primary focus of Family Tech Night is to have fun demonstrating the creative power of the student device. One of my favorite apps to use is Shadow Puppet Edu as it follows a simple progression of selecting photos and voice recording. For my most recent event, I used images of poems and posted them in a public Google Drive folder. I also used Tinyurl.com to shorten the address so that students could easily type in the address to access it using Safari on their iPad. As students get settled, I quickly review how to download the photos into the camera roll of their iPad. (Make sure students tap on the poem to make it full screen so that the image saved is not a thumbnail.) After the students save their images, I give a quick overview of how to use Shadow Puppet as many of the parents have never used it before. Then the fun begins as parents and students work together to create their recordings of the poems read aloud. As the students email their Shadow Puppets to me and I download them, I dump them into a folder in the same location as the poems so that families can view the results. (If you have never used Shadow Puppet, here is an overview of how to use it.) 

In the last 20 minutes, we play a fun game of Kahoot. Parents bust out their smart phones and their personal tablets for this one as they try to match their wits in this fun game of Brain Teasers. This one ends up being more of a competition between parents and teachers, but everyone has fun as they attempt to answer as quickly and correctly as possible. 

It is wonderfully rewarding as parents are leaving and expressing their appreciation and enjoyment of the event. The kids have smiles on their faces as they had a chance to demonstrate what they can do with their iPad. However, my favorite part is when the teachers attending the event walk away asking about Tinyurl.com, Shadow Puppet, Google Drive, and Kahoot with a desire to implement them in their classroom. The very next day, I received another Shadow Puppet sample from some students that were not able to participate in Family Tech Night. Family Tech Night runs deeper than just those that attend as teachers and parents utilize their digital tools to express their learning creatively.