Things are coming into focus! This week, just as things began to feel like a large cloud of anxiety hovering over me, Happy came to my rescue. I doubt I would have been able to write about any context for my driving question without the clarity that came from an hour in a Zoom room with Happy. So now that I'm feeling more focused, I will attempt to look into a funnel view of my driving question.
To what extent will parent involvement in home literacy activities enhanced by school-to-home communication technology affect student achievement in early literacy skills?
When I think about my essential question in the context of the world, differences in communication among cultures comes to mind. Since part of my focus addresses the use of technology as a tool to communicate with parents, I wonder how different cultures would view this idea. Additionally, cultural differences would definitely come into play when considering different views of responsibility for education (parents vs. school). Parent involvement is likely viewed and valued differently from culture to culture.
How important is this question at a national level? I learned that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act significantly addresses the importance of parent involvement and shared accountability for student achievement, which is very interesting and applicable to my study.
The topic of parent involvement as a predictor of academic achievement is really well studied nationally (and somewhat globally). We've all heard it many times. However, I’ve read (and experienced) that getting parents to work with their children at home can be challenging. My literature search has revealed that while technology is now commonly used as a tool to engage parents, its effectiveness is very inconsistent. While I was able to find a few studies about the effectiveness of parent intervention on early literacy, none of these programs included a technology for parent-school communication component.
Do we need to know if technology supported family intervention programs can boost student achievement in early literacy skills in California? When I think about the reading we did in Darling-Hammond about California, I am so sad. The incredible differences in quality of education across the state combined with inconsistencies in state initiatives and policy tell us that we need all the help we can get. If the answer to my essential question is “yes,” then we are able to identify at least one thing we can do (mostly on our own) to improve outcomes for students.
I am often invigorated by how frequently the word “innovation” is used in our district. I like that it is found all over our goals. I think that my essential question proposes an innovative way to engage parents in helping our youngest children to set their paths toward success. I am excited to use our brand new district-wide parent communication tool as a way to get parents involved in their children’s learning and share my findings with district leaders.
Although there isn’t a plethora of literature on my specific question, some of the articles I have been reading suggest that there is hope that building a simple, quick to implement home early literacy program can be done. The fact that our school district has implemented a communication tool that is accessible to nearly everyone (our school’s delivery statistics tell us that approximately 96-97% of all of our parents are able to receive messages) is very exciting! The challenge will be in adapting this tool to deliver effective support, encouragement, and two-way communication that leads to successful implementation of the literacy activities.
At my school, I have not seen a highly successful early literacy program in effect. I have been at my school for the past 6 years as a teacher, and 15 years as a parent (my kids are really spaced apart). While homework has always (during my time) been a part of the Kindergarten program at our school, there has never been an intervention program where parents are instructed in how to deliver early literacy activities and supported by communication applications. I believe I am the first to try this out!
My hope is that if we find success, teachers and families will be willing to invest just a little energy into changing the way we do things to help our youngest learners! My last thought for the evening surprisingly circles back to the beginning of this blog: international context. As one of the most (possibly the most) diverse schools in our district, I want to keep in mind the possible cultural differences that I discussed earlier. In order to get true buy-in from parents, I will need to try to make myself aware on this topic. Any thoughts?