Back to school 2012 is a bit different than in earlier years. While some things will always be handled via paper and pen, technology tools are helping to make sure that parents are informed on the issues big and small. Here are a few ways that FCPS and your child's teacher will use technology to keep in touch and provide resources to help your child learn.
KIT and KIT-Plus
KIT (Keep in Touch) and KIT-Plus are the e-newsletter services that provide up-to-the-minute information for the public on school delays or closings, emergencies, information about FCPS programs and news stories.
Parents, students and employees are automatically enrolled via their contact information provided to the schools. Parents and community members can also select to use KIT-Plus and select the types of communications that fit their interests through a self-managed subscription portal.
Blackboard and FCPS 24-7 Learning
FCPS 24-7 Learning is the online tool to access information about your child's courses, homework assignments, classroom information and a portal to related resources. You can update emergency contact information, and manage your Family Connection account which focuses on your child's future beyond high school.
The content available depends on the input of your child's teachers, so it varies from class to class but teachers understand the valuable role that parents play and understand that a message conveyed through students doesn't always get to parents. FCPS doesn't use the gradebook functions of Blackboard at this time.
Email has made it much easier to communicate with your child's teachers and the school administration. Teaches can check email during their planning periods and gather information before responding, you don't have to try to find the exact moment in the day when the teacher may be able to talk. You can be more thoughtful in your questions and the teacher can be prepared to answer your concerns better than a surprise visit at the seemingly chaotic end of school day.
Teacher's email addresses are usually posted at the school's website and can be shared at back-to-school night. Be sure to provide the teacher with an email address that you check at least daily. You want to be sure that these important communications reach you.
School Libraries and the Public Library
Your school's library has many online resources available to students. The school's subscriptions to academic resources such as World Book, ProQuest, and Columbia Granger's World of Poetry are available at home to students. For help in using these tools, visit the library before or after school. Most of the libraries also have black-and-white printing available for school assignments.
Your public library also has many services available for in-home learning. And for those students without internet access at home, the public library is an essential resource for both parents and students now that so much of the school experience is going on line.
Bridging the Digital Divide
As technology and the on-line world are essential tools in a modern education, the problem of the digital divide holds more importance. the digital divide is the wide gulf between those who have reliable connection to the internet and those who don't. Without access to the Internet, parents and students are at a serious disadvantage. The school and public library try to bridge this divide by providing the necessary tools and access but often issues of transportation and childcare make this option problematic for the working poor.
One attempt to address this problem is Comcast's Internet Essentials program. Families who qualify for the free or reduced lunch program may be able to get broadband internet access for $9.95/month, a low cost computer at enrollment and training. There are program restrictions but parent's can call 1-855-8-INTERNET for more details.