AL Virtual Library by sanmelody


									          Home/School Connections

VIRTUAL Libraries,
         Real Connections                                                                                                                     by Woody Plaut
Five ways to create or improve your school’s virtual library and its outreach to parents and caregivers.
                                                                                                              POST SCHOOL INFORMATION. Virtual li-
                                                                                                              braries can be the first stop when parents are look-
                                                                                                              ing for a wide variety of school information, from
                                                                                                              the school calendar to PTA/PTSA events, faculty
                                                                                                              e-mail addresses, school policies, daily bulletins,
                                                                                                              forms/permission slips, student grades, course
                                                                                                              guides, and e-school courses. We know that stu-
                                                                                                              dents are often given fliers and newsletters at
                                                                                                              school, but somehow, they either never make it
                                                                                                              out of the backpack or locker, or they get lost in
                                                                                                              transit. Parents unintentionally end up either
                                                                                                              completely in the dark or surprised by untimely
                                                                                                              announcements of, “Mom, we have to be at
                                                                                                              school tonight.” Posting this same information
                                                                                                              online immediately makes this one of the most
                                                                                                              popular uses of our site. It is not unusual to re-
                                                                                                              ceive an e-mail from a distant alumnus or a far-
                                                                                                              flung relative who is inquiring about a student
                                                                                                              or an event posted on the school calendar.

                                                                                                              POST ASSIGNMENTS AND PRESCREENED
                                                                                                              LINKS. Virtual libraries can house teacher as-
                                                                                                              signments and prescreened links (Class Hot Lists)
                                                                                                              for students to use in completing an assign-
                                                                                                              ment. Posting this information online allows par-
       s teachers and library media specialists, we   system to communicate both horizontally and ver-

                                                                                                              ents to keep track of what is expected of their
       must build strong relationships with our       tically, both internally and externally. And parental   child and when. For example, I created a page
       students’ first teachers, their caregivers.    involvement has also been shown to have posi-           for one of our physics teachers that contained
Technology makes this effort more realistic. I en-    tive effects on student achievement.                    prescreened, dated, color-coded links for all the
tered the ranks of teaching through the role of          The Konawaena High School Virtual Library            lab reports and research papers due for the whole
a parent advocate. Having been the beneficiary        website I developed strengthens the home/school         year. Parents or students could access this Class
of parent-leadership training, I learned about the    connection, is open 24/7, and is accessible from        Hot List from home and see what assignment was
educational system initially from the other side      any remote location with an Internet connection,        looming in the future, and the “I didn’t know what
of the fence. It seemed that the parent/school        demonstrating the epitome of outreach services.         I was supposed to do” excuse was eliminated.
relationship was somewhat adversarial, with the       So now the entire world is my library media cen-
parents being left out of the communication           ter, and everyone is welcome!                           POST COLLEGE/CAREER INFORMATION.
loop. Research has shown that an important fac-          When I evaluate successful virtual libraries,        Parents can utilize the College and Career section
tor of high-quality education is the ability of the   there are common factors evident in all of them.        of the site with their child to explore informa-
                                                      They each provide various components that will          tion about scholarships and financial aid and
                                                      successfully connect the school to the home. If         view occupational guides, college information, test
   Woody Plaut                                        your school already has a virtual library, there are    dates, etc. There are many aids that parents can
   Library media specialist                           ways to use it to improve school/parent commu-          use to help their children through the transition
   Konawaena High School                              nication. If one is not in existence, these are         out of high school. Knowing about deadlines and
   Kealakekua, HI
                                                      things to keep in mind when creating one.               opportunities, parents are able to encourage their

8 :: ACCESS LEARNIN G :: MAY O6 :: ning
                                                     w w w . c i c o n l i n e . o r g / a c c e s s l e a r n i n g

                                                                                                            and, for them, in turn, I recently developed the
      “No longer do parents have to wait for a                                                              Parent Involvement Tool Kit, a comprehensive,
      conference or the end of the year to see                                                              multifaceted online compendium of resources to
                                                                                                            support parent advocacy. Always a work in
        the quality of their children’s work.”                                                              progress, with never a static moment, the virtual
                                                                                                            media center has expanded explosively, creating
                                                                                                            a vast community network, as the globe itself has
children to manage their time appropriately, in-     virtual library can offer parents suggestions for      become our infinitely accessible library.      ::
vestigate possibilities, and find events or infor-   relevant educational websites or television pro-
mation that match their child’s interests and        gramming available to view at home with their
goals. Our school subscribes to a type of college-   child. They can be listed by curricular topic or
planner program called ECOS, in which students       as a general reference to educational material on-            Related Resources
can build a portfolio to prepare for the next step   line and on TV. On my site, for example, I refer
in life. The school website is the portal through    students, parents, and teachers to websites such          The Biography Channel
which this tool is accessed at home, allowing par-   as The History Channel, Kathy Schrock’s page on 
ents to track what their children are organizing,, CNN, MSNBC, The Weather Chan-              Multimedia biographical resources.
as well as help with the process.                    nel, and I also use the Cable in           Cable in the Classroom
                                                     the Classroom website as an important place to  
SHOWCASE STUDENT WORK. Our site offers               find links to add to the virtual library.                 Searchable listings of educational
a venue for budding poets—called Writer’s Nook—         Information has gone digital. It is estimated          resources by keyword, topic, and more.
while other sites exhibit projects, PowerPoint       that by the end of the decade, 90 percent of all
                                                                                                               CNN Education with Student News
presentations, and art works. With online access,    information will be in a digital format. Needless
student work is just a click away; no longer do      to say, it is fundamental for every educational set-      Multimedia current-events resources.
parents have to wait for a conference or the end     ting to have maximum access to this treasure trove
of the year to see the quality of their children’s   of information. The virtual library I created has         Education and Career Opportunities
work. Students themselves actually work harder       become one of the main outreach vehicles con-             System (ECOS)
and more conscientiously when they know their        necting this information repository with the    
                                                                                                               Princeton Review’s online college and
work will be published on the Web.                   greater school community—our traffic statistics
                                                                                                               career counseling system.
                                                     have tracked exponential growth in that regard.
SUGGEST FAMILY-FRIENDLY MEDIA, CON-                  The degree to which the site supports the effi-           The History Channel Classroom
VERSATION STARTERS , AND MORE. On the                cient functioning of the school as a whole has  
home page, I have dedicated a section specifi-       mirrored this growth.                                     Multimedia history resources.
cally to the parents. There, one can find conver-       As a function of the increasing breadth that           Discovery School: Kathy Schrock’s
sation starters, Internet-safety information, and    our virtual library actively offers, the PTSA is          Guide for Educators
information on the No Child Left Behind Act. A       now the single biggest supporter of the library 
                                                                                                               A categorized list of education sites.
  Connecting Homes                                                                                             Konawaena High School Virtual Library
     n order for virtual libraries to be successful in improving parental involvement in schools,

  I  parents need computers, computer skills, and Internet access. The Minneapolis and St.
     Paul Public Schools have addressed that need through Destination 2010, a program
  designed to improve parental involvement and student achievement, increase high-school
                                                                                                               The author’s school’s extensive virtual
                                                                                                               library site.
  graduation rates, and advance educational reform for selected students.                            
     Based on the initiative’s beliefs that parental involvement in education leads children to                Multimedia current-events resources.
  perform better in school, at home, and in the community, approximately 230 selected eighth-
  grade students and their families were provided with free, refurbished computers fully loaded                Parent Involvement Tool Kit
  with new software by Minnesota Computers, as well as a year of free, high-speed Internet           
  access and free installation by Time Warner Cable (Minneapolis) and Comcast (St. Paul). To                   tool_kit.htm
  receive the computers, parents had to attend a training session that reviewed the district tech-             Documents and links supporting parent
  nology guidelines and showed how to integrate the use of the computers into expectations                     involvement at Konawaena High School.
  and curricular work for students on their way to college.
     Time Warner Cable’s Minneapolis Division president, Mike Munley, says, “We are pleased                    The Weather Channel:
  to be part of this unique project with the Minneapolis Schools and the Minneapolis Foundation      
  that helps improve student achievement through technology.”                    —Keri Callahan
                                                                                                               Multimedia weather-science resources.
  For more information, go to

                                                     A Cable in t he Classroom Publication :: MAY O6 :: ACCESS LEARNIN G :: 9

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