ROCK SPRINGS — Parents of Eastside Elementary School students took advantage of the opportunity Tuesday evening to learn about class assignment completion tracking technology with which they may not have been familiar previously.
Kids at Eastside are using Digital Data Notebooks on their computers which display assignments finished, or missed, and the grades that they received as a result. Parents who were not aware beforehand of this assignment tracking technology, are now. Other parents left with a more complete understanding of what the Digital Data Notebook information means and how it is used in the classroom, as well as standard folder material.
Eastside’s “Feast at East” drew a cafeteria overflow crowd of parents and interested community members wanting to know more about this student assignment completion tracking technology. This academic technology is available in 2023, but was likely not around yet when today’s parents and grandparents were in school. They may have heard of it only through Jetsons cartoons.
“It’s not about being perfect; it’s about (student) growth, it’s about being better,” Eastside 5th grade teacher Tracey Burton told the crowd. Burton added that every single child at Eastside has a Digital Data Notebook on their computer that they can use to show their parents how they’re doing. “It’s about every child knowing where they’re at and understanding how they can grow…Kids and their parents can have those discussions.”
Eastside 6th grade teacher Elizabeth Bramwell joined Burton in explaining the assignment-by-assignment, subject-by-subject bar graph mechanism of the Digital Data Notebooks. Students are very accurate at assessing their level of knowledge, Bramwell said, and are also their best critics.
Burton later added that students are supposed to be taking their computers, and thus their Digital Data Notebooks, home with them every evening, with assignment and grade level study information available through the Google Classroom platform.
All of the new Digital Data Notebook information was meant to enable parents to get up-to-date with the technology their kids are using to measure Smart Goal and assignment completion, and get better grades in consequence. Students whose parents stay involved in school have better attendance and behavior, get better grades and have better social skills, Burton explained.
Prior to the Digital Data Notebooks presentation, and after the crowd of parents and kids had been well-fed from the free buffet, keynote speaker Rock Springs Mayor Max Mickelson expressed strong support for Eastside’s ongoing efforts to get parents more involved in their kids’ educations.
“Our schools very much want our parents to be involved, not so much on social media,” Mickelson emphasized, “but by showing up and asking ‘how can I help?’”
Prior to his election as mayor a year ago, Mickelson was a member of the Sweetwater County School District No. 1 school board.
Getting parents motivated to be involved
Along with a bevy of teachers and staff, Eastside co-principals Tina Searle and Dr. Karl Wells attended the Feast at East to talk with parents in order to obtain feedback and answer any questions. Searle made it clear, several times, that she wants parents to feel welcome to involve themselves with the school ‘s educational mission in any way that they feel comfortable, be it through social media, by showing up at the school to volunteer or ask questions or express a concern, through Parent Square, or even by a parent requesting a visit.
“We want you in our building,” Searle said, later adding, “If you have ideas, please tell us…If you want us to come to you, we will come to you.”
Having greater parent involvement helps to build relationships, which helps with parent-teacher-staff communication, which helps students learn, which leads to better grades. When teachers and staff are strangers to parents, communication is impeded and can become strained, Searle said.
“Once you have a relationship, when you feel comfortable, that whole dynamic changes,” Searle added.
Searle also emphasized that volunteers at Eastside are needed and welcomed, in whatever capacity they feel they could fit in best, whether in the classroom or elsewhere. Typing, stapling, bulletin board work, or even using flash cards with students, all were examples of possible venues for volunteers.
“Whatever you’re comfortable doing, we’ll find something for you,” Searle declared.
The most important criterion for prospective volunteers was that they enjoy working with young people. “Our kids need attention, they need love,” Searle said.
Parents react with positive vibes
Judging from parental reactions following the Feast at East, Searle, Burton, Bramwell and other Eastside staff got their message across.
“It was definitely worthwhile coming,” Bailey Healey from Rock Springs said. “I learned about Google Classroom. I didn’t know you could do that.”
Tammy Oswood, also from Rock Springs, concurred that the Feast at East was time well spent. “I didn’t know there were so many ways to volunteer,” she said.
Husband Mark Oswood likewise gained a new perspective on Eastside. “I didn’t know you could just walk into a classroom and check on progress,” he said.
With proper notice, parents are welcome to visit Eastside Elementary and see for themselves what goes on there to educate their kids.
The Feast, at East(side)
Parents and families who came to the Feast at East were served up a buffet supper featuring pasta, bread, salad, and an assortment of deserts and non-alcoholic drinks. The food was provided by Boschetto’s Restaurant as well as by Eastside Elementary staff. Santa Fe Restaurant provided the black table cloths. Save the Date provided the flowers. The Rock Springs High School debate team provided entertainment through a discussion regarding which animal, frogs or monkeys, are better.
Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO) President Brittany Boschetto-Metz attended the Feast at East and was well-pleased by the turnout and the focus of the evening. “We’re here to be discussing the importance of parents being involved in their child’s education,” Boschetto-Metz said.
The event presented not only the message regarding the importance of parents being aware of their child’s academic progress, but frankly also how to do that more effectively in the digital age.