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Home & School from Home

Knapp Elementary offers live broadcast of its monthly Home and School Association meetings through KnappTV. One occurs tonight at 7:30.

They want their KnappTV.

The North Penn School District has a goal of engaging families and the community on a daily basis as a way to support student success.

The district does this through many efforts: outreach efforts with the North Penn Valley Boys and Girls Club, the North Penn United Way and various ethnic coalitions; partnerships between elementary schools and pre-schools; volunteerism; the Community Forum Committee and FACE Time, or Family and Community Engagement workshops.

An offshoot of FACE is eFACE - electronic Family and Community Engagement.

One such example is that of KnappTV of .

The school operates KnappTV much like a regular news broadcast; it is a daily effort each week.

All equipment used for KnappTV was funded by the North Penn Educational Foundation.

According to its website, KnappTV is a way for student council members to broadcast stories from around the school. This includes daily and important annoucements for grades kindergarten to sixth.

Principal Joe Mazza meets with students on Tuesdays at lunch to brainstorm possible story ideas. Drafts of scripts are presented on Wednesdays at lunch. By Thursday morning, the stories are typed into the TelePrompTer using Videocue software. Shows are taped Thursdays at lunch.

The entire school then watches the broadcast on Fridays in the classrooms.

Parents must provide permission for episodes to be published on the website.

KnappTV doesn't just stop in the classroom.

Home and School Association meetings are broadcast over the Internet through Cover It Live.

Mazza would notice how about 10 or 15 parents would show up at a Home and School meeting every month.

Last year, he and the association looked at a solution to greatly engage the number of families during these meetings.

Enter Home and School 2.0.

"During the previous year, we had attempted to meet in the morning after the students arrived, but in multiple sessions, did not produce greater numbers or a different cross-section of school parents," Mazza said. "With the support of the parent group, we agreed to try webcasting our monthly meetings using some free social networking websites."

Through eFACE, the school was able to grow its monthly participation from eight to 58 participants over three months.

"Our school has a high population of working moms and dads, and many of them work two or more jobs.  We wanted to provide an option for the busy parent to be able to tune in from home or work, and the option had to be free," Mazza said.

He said recent survey data suggested most of Knapp Elementary families did indeed have Internet access at home or work. Thus, they decided to take a new innovative approach. 

"In responding to our low attendance meeting challenges, we decided to bring the meeting to the living rooms and offices of our families by streaming the meeting from our school library, where the physical meeting typically took place," Mazza said.

Knapp Home and School was able to use three free web-based resources to broadcast meetings: Gmail, Ustream and Cover It Live.

The school used its distribution list to get word out and send invitations to contacts through Gmail.

Ustream is used to stream audio and video of the meeting. Cover It Live provides the interface to host the stream meeting. The website also allows moderation of comments from those participating at home. There is also a Cover It Live App for the iPhone.

"It was very important to our school culture to continue provide the most family-friendly school possible.  We spent a great deal of time preparing our families for this option and continue to provide reasons for continued participation," Mazza said.

Visit https://knappwiki.wikispaces.com/KnappTV and click the link to take part in the Home and School meeting tonight at 7:30.

You can follow Knapp Elementary on Twitter @KnappElementary.

You can follow Mazza on Twitter @Joe_Mazza

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