Friday, April 16, 2010

Social Networking: Making the Most of STAR Testing

On April 7th, many enthusiastic Connecting Waters parents and children from the East Bay Area congregated in a Fremont church parking lot for the annual STAR testing. A nervous charge filled the air as students were signed in and led to their classrooms. Once our dedicated scholars had departed, parents either clumped into small groups to socialize, headed to the park with younger siblings, or left to run errands.

After 2 days of informal mingling and idea-swapping, I had an idea. It was time to get down to business! On day 3, I proposed that we get together and have a "curriculum chat" to share what products and services we are using with our children. I quickly made my way around the parking lot to invite those present, and directed everyone to form a circle in the shade. Never did I guess that our spontaneous, 45-minute meeting would have been so beneficial to all who participated!

We each introduced ourselves, shared our city of residence and the ages of our children and then proceeded to pour out the essence of our homeschooling content for all ears to hear. After one pass around the circle we then asked parents to suggest classes or programs that their children enjoyed. We continued to reap the benefits of knowledge that comes from a community of homeschoolers with much wisdom and experience. I hastily took notes on the educational resources shared and agreed to e-mail out the list to the participants. We sent around a clipboard for e-mails and decided that a Google Group was in order. Establishing an online group would create a communication tool, resource guide, and support network for East Bay CWCS Parents.

Following our group chat, parents were then able to approach others that had common interests, similar challenges, and children in the same grades. For the future, we've thought about starting weekly summer park days to better build a sense of community among Alameda County CWCS families. Even without a physical learning center in our county, we can still build a social network for support and connection.

Next year, with the help of our test-site coordinator, we are hoping to integrate a "hands-on curriculum" element so that parents can bring and share what they are using, giving Connecting Waters families the opportunity to take a peek at what others are using.

All current Connecting Waters families are encouraged to join our community and start collaborating. E-mail or call 510-299-2586 to be added to the Connecting Waters East Bay Parents group. Contact Janine if you'd like help setting up your own social network. Let's get connected at Connecting Waters Charter School!


Lauren B said...

Can ESes join or refer families? There was a type on the the first note!


Lauren B said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Janine Weston said...

Yes! ESs can join and refer their families, too!