ELCO Intermediate School

Team Members: Judy Uhrich, Kim Sandoe, Amy Zelinski, Tara Perlaki, Sue Gingrich
Community: IU-13 Year 1, 2010-2011

This year we moved grades 3, 4, and 5 from 4 elementary K-5 schools into one Intermediate School where grade levels teach students in a team format instead of conventional classrooms. Teachers continued to try to communicate with parents via the standard Friday hard copy newsletter. This was not working. Our action project addressed this situation. Our goal was to discover/create a method for communication that was immediate, flexible, easily accessed by all concerned, and one that would also save time and resources.

Even before we moved into our new school, the amount of information shared between home and the classroom was increasing rapidly. Not only was the amount of information increasing, but after information was shared, it was changing just as quickly and sometimes changing numerous times before events would occur. This resulted in many half sheets of paper being sent home at the last minute or changing a weekly newsletter at the last minute and ultimately more and more instances of inaccurate communication. After moving into the new 3, 4, 5 Intermediate School another issue with communication arose. Grade leves are now teaching in teams of four rather then as individual classrooms. Weekly newsletters previously used with individual classrooms were not working with the team approach. Some other form of communication is needed.

Expected Outcomes: We want to improve team communications and save time for those sharing information and those accessing information. This action plan will result in an online form of communication that will eliminate the need for weekly or monthly hard copy newsletters and other paper copies of most communicated information. By presenting important information in a central location for each team, in such a way that is easy for all staff to access and update, and for most parents to access 24/7, we hope to accomplish the following:

  • manage information more effectively and efficiently
  • improve communication between home and school
  • provide convenient 24/7 access for parents
  • provide consistent and immediate communication for parents
  • save ink and paper
  • save time for all school personnel involved with disseminating information

We have already received positive feedback from the ten parents involved with the pilot of the Communication WIKI. After the Communication WIKI has been rolled out and used school wide, we plan to send out a survey to collect further comments and feedback.

Our team wiki includes a detailed timeline of events as we worked on this action plan.

Login username: wikiguest

Login password: elco

Lessons learned and takeaways…

  • Finding a solution to a huge problem can be very exciting!
  • Trusting team members enough to be honest for the good of the cause can take time.
  • Hearing others’ ideas can be motivating.
  • Switching gears from “my classroom” to “our team” can be a huge leap!
  • Even though a change is needed, change may not be easy for even those who want it the most.
  • So many many baby steps are needed to get others to do something differently.

Where we are…

  • At the end of this month we will be presenting the IS Communication WIKI, that we have been piloting with one grade level for the last 2 months, to the PTO.
  • Before the end of the school year, grades 3 and 5 staff will be introduced to the WIKI and shown how to add information and how it works.
  • All parents of students who will be at the IS next year will be given information about this new method of communication by July 1.
  • Hands on demonstration for all parties concerned is being planned for the start of next school year.
Here are the three wikis that encompass all resources for our Action Plan process.┬áLogin username is “wikiguest” and password is “elco.”

Our team wiki

  • this wiki is where all of our resources and notes and ideas were shared
  • you can also find our teaser Rap Video and text in this location!

IS Communication wiki

  • this is the actual wiki being used at this time by the pilot group of 4th grade parents, 4th grade staff, and all specialists
  • this is also the actual wiki that will be used next year
  • currently this wiki is still a work in progress and only being used by the pilot groups

Evaluation wiki

  • this is the wiki where the pilot parents shared input and feedback while using the communication wiki above
  • comments by our team were usually entered by me after consulting the entire group


About Action Research Projects

Action research is a process in which Powerful Learning Team members collaboratively examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully. Action research is:

  • Disciplined inquiry into a problem or possibility within the school or classroom
  • Collaborative and usually takes place in a community of practice
  • Meaningful, positive, and reflective
  • Data-driven, action-based, improvement-focused
  • Transformative

View all Action Research

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Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice. She works with schools and districts from around the world helping them to infuse technology into their curriculums and by leading other digital conversion efforts. Sheryl also consults with governments, educational organizations and non-profits in development of their various professional learning initiatives. Sheryl is a sought-after presenter at national and international events, speaking on topics related to digital and online learning, teacher and educational leadership, online community building, and other educational issues impacting children of poverty. Sheryl served on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Board of Directors for six years. She co-authored The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age with Lani Ritter Hall. Sheryl has four children and four grandsons, Luke, Logan, Levi and Tanner and a trio of dachshunds. You can find out more on her blog and on Twitter @snbeach.

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