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This past March, on International Women's Day, I asked students to talk with their parents and post a picture of women who inspire them on our Bloomz Newsfeed. Because I teach a multi-grade Montessori class, my students range in ages six through nine. I teach a three year cycle and I alternate yearly assignments so that students are engaging in learning experiences in new ways each year. In the past I've asked students to choose a woman, research her, and write a biography for homework. They would then present a poster board in class. This year I added a technological and family connection component to the International Women's Day assignment. Each student was encouraged to choose a woman and search for an image online using a kids safe search engine. This is where parents assisted the young children in safely navigating the internet. Parents have the opportunity to give the child the device and facilitate the search/upload or they may demonstrate and model the skill. Either way parents and students are engaged in conversation around women's empowerment while utilizing technology.

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Some users posted links rather than images which was great because we were able to click on them and navigate directly to the Wikipedia pages for more information during the presentations. Other students used books they had at home to choose an inspiring woman. No matter the media, each student lit up when they were chosen to share about the woman who inspires them most.

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This was my first time trying something like this so I wasn't sure what to expect. Was I asking too much? Turns out this was an effective way to engage my parent community while highlighting student interests! I was so pleased to check the Bloomz classroom news feed that morning and see the abundance of parental engagement. Parents were liking other parent's posts on this stream of achievements by notable women.

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Another benefit of this social media parental engagement strategy was that the result provided me with an attention-getter for the International Women's Day lesson I had planned. During circle time I brought up the feed and students were highly interested in viewing the photos and facts. In addition to the news feed assignment, earlier in the week I had put out a Bloomz post asking for women in my students' lives to come into our class to speak. It was such a delight to receive two moms as volunteers - one owns an urban farming company and the other is a family therapist. One of the volunteers mentioned in her speech how special it was to see all of the posts of notable women that day on Bloomz. In that moment I realized that this activity didn't just provide an experience for my students and my class, but it gave families at home specific knowledge of our entire class's interests while fostering inclusiveness. As a parent, it's important to feel as if you're a part of your child's classroom community. Watching the newsfeed activity you are engaging in develop in real time is exciting and relates to our current digital age.

Have you used parental engagement strategies to support student interests on your Bloomz newsfeed? If so, please comment in the section below.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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