Let’s say that you were interested in creating the world’s best PTA / PTO blog as a tool to help build greater community for your kids’ elementary school. What would you include in it?
You can see what I’ve come up with so far at the Fellows PTO Blog. I’m just getting started. In addition to fun and/or helpful online resources for students and parents, over the next few months I’m going to:
- solicit student stories or artwork,
- publicize upcoming school events,
- interview principals and the teaching staff,
- highlight great books (and hopefully have students submit book reviews), and
- possibly host a few fun contests for kids and families.
If you have other suggestions for blog activities, web sites I should be checking out, or great PTA / PTO blog examples, please leave them in the comments area or send me a note. Thanks!
I’m setting one up with our PTO president next week. I think they plan to use it more for basic information than anything else, but I’ll show them yours to give them some ideas. Thanks for sharing it.
I think this depends on the audience of the site. After the students leave elementary school, what do the feeder schools PTA/PTO/PTSA have?
National PTA has incorporated social networking with their website including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Fotki. This is great for everyone not accessing the sites on a school network. State PTAs have their sites. Local PTAs do what they can with what they have.
With our PTSA the technical skills and accessibility vary between the teachers, students, parents, alumni, and community partners. I started a blog just to discover blogs are blocked by the district. The district controllers block everything but text email (hence the newsgroup). The school and the district have websites. Because we needed information disseminated, we created the newsgroup. We did a website, a newsgroup, a MySpace. We keep up with the students and parents through MySpace.
As a military service member interacting with schools in various states was a necessity, in some districts, I only received random automated phone messages or quarterly printed and snail mailed newsletters. Today I am helping others cross the digital divide, so build to the need of the users.
Group blogs work great…but we still have some Internet shyness so we are working in the unpublished group blog section.
It would be great if there was one “best” way that would fit the need but the users and accessibility of the information requires us to be the jacks of all social tools to meet the needs of the groups with the diverse digital skills.
I have a question as I consider what online vehicle to utilize to create a robust online community supporting school success and improvement. Why would a group choose a blog rather than a forum for this purpose?
A blog seems to exist in a linear format which is dominated by one present story line, whereas a forum seems to allow the creation of vibrant communities based on topics of high interest… Thoughts?
p.s. Scott please reply to email with your thoughts for me if possible.
Some of us in the community care about education but aren’t parents or teachers. A comprehensive involvement site should reach out to those folks, too.
Hey Scott –
Love the thread. I’ll be watching closely, as I spend way, waaaay too much time randomly surfing good PTYO websites. Really like your Fellows blog.
I realize you may be looking for blogs from individual PTOs, but I thought our/my two blogs might fit, as well.
1. Our PTO Today blog (for PTO and PTA leaders) = http://www.ptotoday.com/ptoblog/?position=right
2. Our School Family Blog is for parents interested in making it through this crazy school thing with their kids. That’s at: http://www.schoolfamily.com/blog/?position=top
Hi Tim, thanks for chiming in here. Yes, I am particularly interested in individual PTO blogs, so if you know of any good ones, please let me know!
Don’t know of any good PTO blogs (well, this one’s okay: http://www.wildwoodpto.org/) but will keep an eye out for any really great ones for you. Meanwhile, based on my own experience, I’d be interested in seeing event updates, “thank you’s,” some transparency WRT money (“Our kids raised $1800 for UNICEF this year.” “Our annual PTO activities budget is $3200, $300 of which the chess club has spent on some new roll-up boards and strategy books, and $400 of which we’ll be spending supplies for February’s pancake breakfast.”)
Depending on the size of the school, I think a “new kid on the block” feature could be nice; profiles of students who enter the school at non-standard times.
Wish list? (“Anyone have a set of plastic, “cut-apart” fruit they’d like to donate? Mrs. K’s class would love to have more.”
Bylaws, list of current active committees, and
contact information for the folks who are getting things done.
Kids interviewing teachers, kids interviewing their best friend’s parent, other kid-generated content.
Monthly “caption this cartoon” contest or some such… something that students and parents would be able to participate in equally.
As to the “why a blog rather than a forum” question, I think it depends on whether you’re thinking of the blog as a possible way for newcomers to the community to get a feel for a school’s culture. Forums would be for current community members, whereas a blog could be for those folks as well as possible future community members, right?