The Liberty County School System hosted the second annual Title I Parent Engagement Workshop on Saturday at the Performing Arts Center.
The workshop was designed to emphasize the importance of parent involvement and provided attendees with resources to help students achieve higher levels of success.
LCSS Superintendent Dr. Valya S. Lee opened the workshop with a presentation that explained the benefits of parent engagement and gave advice for parents to implement at home. She advised parents to teach children that learning is their job; encourage them do more than what the teacher assigns; demonstrate a positive attitude toward education; break down tasks into small steps; talk to children so they can development vocabulary through conversation; monitor television, Internet and game usage; use vacation times to develop new skills; volunteer at their child’s school; and to reward their progress.
“This workshop is done throughout the state. It provides parents with resources that are available and learn how they can support the school system at home. It’s also an opportunity for parents to ask questions,” Lee said. “We’re using iPads in the classroom this year. We wanted to have a classroom without walls, to go beyond the resources that are just in the classroom. It’s another opportunity for parents to be engaged and support what goes on in the classroom at home.”
The first general session was led by Dr. Jennifer Walts, director of evaluation, assessment and accountability. She discussed the implementation of a new testing system, the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, for this academic year. It will replace the CRCT and EOCT. The new testing system is tied to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, with the goal of preparing students for success in college and future careers. There is a five-year rollout plan for the test to be taken entirely online.
Walts explained how the new testing questions are generated to challenge students. There will be open-ended questions in addition to the usual multiple choice, which calls for students to process and explain their answers. The pilot program showed that students weren’t previously familiar with these types of questions.
Attendees then had a choice of breakout sessions to attend. One session, entitled “Moby Max Access and How to Use at Home,” was taught by April Allen, a special-education teacher from Lewis Frasier Middle School. Moby Max is a software program designed to assess a child’s level and act as a remediation program to improve proficiency in various subject areas. Currently, the system is designed for grades kindergarten through eight. Parents are able to monitor their student’s progress in real time, view student’s usage time with the program and check on which proficiency standards have been completed. Teachers can create individual assessments through Moby Max, and students have the ability to progress grade levels within a single school year.
“This program gives more knowledge about your child as a student, since parents aren’t in the classroom all day,” Allen said.
The workshop also provided sessions focusing on iPads. With students using iPads in the classroom and at home this year, parents were shown how to use certain features that facilitate learning, set passcodes, use Siri to create reminders for parent-teacher appointments and turning in homework, and sound settings and alert features. The LCSS website offers a database of approved apps for learning for K-12 that parents can download. These apps are used in many classrooms across the country, and have been reviewed by local teachers and staff.
Other sessions concentrated on writing, math, improving Lexile levels at home, technology for special-needs students, the importance of school attendance and using Powerschool’s Parent Portal.
Mia Wyatt — a mother of two students, one at Bradwell and a special-needs student at Waldo Pafford — found the workshop to be helpful.
“As an active parent, we have to show our kids that we’re interested in the things they’re in. But as a special-needs parent, any time I can network with other special-needs parents helps. We’re on the same battlefield for our special-needs children. Sometimes, all you need someone else to say is ‘I get it. I see what you’re going through, and it’s OK,’” Wyatt said. “I’m not familiar with the iPad, so I had to be here to learn this. I feel better knowing I have these resources and who to email if I have questions. The accessibility features for the iPad helped me because it taught me about passwords and time limits. I’m glad they did this. It’s a lot of good information.”
LCSS elementary and middle schools were represented at the workshop. Display tables for each school allowed parents to meet with school principals and administrators, ask questions and pick up materials. Lunch was provided after the workshop, where attendees continued to interact with other parents, staff, teachers and school officials.