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Online access helps parents, teachers communicate

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Teachers use multiple communication tools on Web

By Kelly Richardson

By KELLY RICHARDSON

krichardson@thenewsenterprise.com

HARDIN COUNTY — The days of the teacher’s note sent home via backpack, crushed and likely forgotten underneath textbooks and folders, may be coming to an end — now parents just need to get on the computer.

As ways of communication have changed with the Internet, the field of education was not forgotten; teachers and schools are using their Internet connections in multiple ways to correspond with parents.

Rebecca Parrish realized after following a music blog that this was a communication tool available for her as well, to use for her third-grade class at Lincoln Trail Elementary School and their parents.

Parrish had been sending home a weekly letter to parents, but her blog, at http://ltegrade3.blogspot.com/, allows her to update parents more often with what their children are learning in her class.

A weekly letter didn’t allow her to cover everything she wanted, so now she tries to update the blog every other day.

“I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback,” she said.

The blog allows her to show pictures of the class, as well as give full descriptions of the homework students have for the night.

Students also can guest-blog on the site, and she shows the class how they’re featured on the Web site.

“They just get all giddy about it,” she said.

One parent, Lisa Cox, said in e-mail that she uses the site for the educational links Parrish provides, as well as a list of recommended books. She has also sent a link to the site to the grandparents of her daughter, Mallory, so they can keep up with their granddaughter’s activities.

“It serves as a wonderful tool for weekly, sometimes daily, communication from the teacher's perspective about what is going on in the classroom,” she said in the e-mail.

Many of the school Web sites in Hardin County Schools and Elizabethtown Independent Schools feature individual classroom pages as well. Some are basic, with teacher biographies and classroom supply lists, and others are more detailed, giving a run-down of classroom activities, similar to Parrish’s blog. A teacher at Bluegrass Middle School uploads her notes the class receives during the day, making them accessible to parents and her students.

E.G. Thompson, the principal of Lakewood Elementary School, said the school began their classroom sites when they first had the capability with communication with parents the primary goal.

“They appreciate any and all effective communication,” she said.

He said a problem with the sites is that it can be difficult to find the time to update them, a problem that Parrish runs into as well. She said the every-other-day goal doesn’t always get met.

“Life can get in the way too,” she said.

Laura Price, the principal at Creekside Elementary School, said some fifth-graders at her school are responsible for keeping the sites updated. However, Creekside teachers are moving away from the Web sites and using newsletters sent via e-mail.

“They love it. Parents love it,” she said.

She usually receives the e-mails as well, which keeps her more updated on class progress as well.

It’s just becoming easier to e-mail someone than make a phone call, she said.

“They (parents) have more interaction with the teachers,” she said.

Classroom Web pages and school Web sites can be found off of the districts’ Web sites, www.etown.kyschools.us and www.hardin.kyschools.us.

Kelly Richardson can be reached at (270) 505-1747.