Today I was invited for my first “Parent Coffee” at Toscana.  We talked about the IICS class sites, resources for parents to use with their children, and also management programs and apps for Macs and iPads.  One of the main recommendations we had for parents was to ask their children to use devices in common areas.  Another recommendation was for all devices and computers to be turned off and put in a place for safekeeping throughout the night outside of the bedrooms.

However, throughout the talk we listed a bunch of great websites and resources.  I thought I would reiterate some of them here and give some explanations about them:

IICS Websites and Resources

  • Primary Years Programme – One of the first documents that we talked about was the PYP program that is available online through the school directory and through the IICS website.
  • Primary School Parent and Student Handbook – Although we didn’t talk about this in the meeting, I thought I would add this document here because it is good to know that it exists and how to fetch it.
  • Primary Weekly News – An often updated blog that details when the next Parent Coffees will be, newsletters, and other pertinent information for parents and the school community.

Math Sites

  • Mathletics – IICS belongs to and pays for subscriptions to this excellent resource for students to learn about leveled and differentiated math.  Student can even challenge others from around the world to math games.  They love the competition.
  • Khan Academy – This is another great FREE website that enables students and parents to create programs and goals for themselves to learn such concepts as algebra, chemistry, calculus, physics.  It presents videos and lessons at many low and high levels and generates excellent statistics to use in guiding practice.  Parents – Please note there is a login specifically for you to track and help your son or daughter.

Language Sites

  • Vocabulary.com – Similar to Khan Academy, vocabulary.com builds students language abilities.  The site uses analytics to determine levels and terminology that is appropriate for each specific student.  One can also search for books that he or she is going to read in order to learn the difficult jargon they will encounter.
  • Starfall – This site caters to younger children learning vocabulary.  It has bright colourful pictures that accompany many games and lessons.

Kid-safe and Parent-safe Browsers

  • Kidzui – When using a Mac or PC, this is a great browser that display vetted websites and Youtube videos.  It is a must-have for parents who would like to be able to know kids are surfing the web safely.
  • Sandbox Browser App – For the iPad, this app performs a similar task.  However, parents define whitelisted sites that kids are allowed to use.  At the day of writing, this app was free on the US and Canadian iTunes store.
  • Self-Control – For parents out there who want to block themselves or their kids from sites or even email for a set duration, this is the trick.  It is also free.

Life Management

  • Netvibes – In order to have everything consolidate and come to you (RSS feed), this site should be set as your homepage.  Users can add widgets that feed class sites, multiple emails, other blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google Calendar, LinkedIn, Delicio.us, and times and weather around the world.   Other widgets can act as “to-do” lists, notes, and so many other things that can be personalised with a drag and drop.

Typing

  • BBC Dancemat Typing – A simple, free website that can get kids (and adults) started with proper finger placement and practice for typing.  No need to login or create an account.  Just get started!

Setting Times for Internet Browsing

  • When students have moved beyond the common areas and are using internet to large degrees, it is time to cut of their connection.  This post explains how to do this through the router.  With this said, it was noted that a son or daughter could hook their computer up to use their or their friend’s personal hotspot, so parents be wary.  It is best to sit and talk with them about digital citizenship and trying to lead a balanced life.  A sad video that accentuates what life has come to for many people is shown below:

We were also concerned with turning off Gmail Chat.  Here’s how:

  1. Click the gear icon and choose Settings.
  2. Click the Chat tab.
  3. Choose “Chat off.”
  4. Click Save changes.