Do you struggle to engage your students’ families? You’re not alone. According to this national survey, even though educators know family engagement is important many schools find it challenging to effectively implement it. I had the chance to check out a fantastic family engagement tool from a nonprofit organization that is committed to supporting educators, families and students.
Instead of the one-way communication channels for teachers to nudge families you might have seen before, you can engage families in meaningful ways throughout the school year.
I recently met the team at PowerMyLearning. They are a national nonprofit with a mission to strengthen the triangle of learning relationships among teachers, families, and students so that all students succeed. I was excited visit their office and chat with their team about their commitment to create meaningful family engagement for schools. Their latest innovation is called Family Playlists™. This new tool gives parents an opportunity to participate in their students’ learning as true learning partners.
Mobile-Friendly, Multi-Lingual Family Engagement Tool
Family Playlists are home-learning assignments for students in grades 3-8. It provides a way for teachers and families to partner and support student learning. Research shows that the most impactful family engagement involves families supporting their children’s learning at home. The Family Playlists tool from PowerMyLearning is a fantastic resource for educators looking for a way to empower families as learning partners (you might have seen them mentioned in this New York Times article earlier this month).
When a teacher assigns a Family Playlist, family members receive a text message alert translated into their home language. Their child first completes a sequence of digital activities on their own to review content. This could include watching a short instructional video or practicing a strategy using a game—all designed to check their understanding. Once they are finished, the student will complete a collaborative activity with their family partner at home. With this activity they “teach” the concept they learned in class.
Students as Teachers
Taking on the role of teacher can help students gain a deeper understanding of a topic. Since the family partner takes on the role of “student,” all families can participate. This is regardless of their comfort level with a particular subject area or topic.
After completing the activity, the family partner provides feedback to the teacher on how well the child understood the concept. Teachers receive real-time reports including this meaningful feedback, which allows for rich family-teacher communication around learning.
Last spring, PowerMyLearning piloted Family Playlists at South Bronx Preparatory, a middle school in New York City. This school had struggled with family engagement in the past. But after 91% of families participated in the pilot, all families reported that Family Playlists helped them understand what their child was learning in school. Teachers were able to communicate with families with more frequency. Here’s a link with more information on this pilot.
Family Playlists are now available for all schools and districts on PowerMyLearning’s new subscription-based edition of their platform, PowerMyLearning Connect: School Edition. Head over to their website to learn more about this fantastic family engagement tool!