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Perham teacher hits the net to help kids and parents connect

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In a world of smart phones, NetFlix, and grandma's on Facebook, virtually anything can be done over the web.

All ages are able to surf on this infinite sea of information. Therefore, it's no surprise that kids as young as 7 are communicating via the World Wide Web.

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But one Perham second grade teacher is using that to get kids excited about reading, and keep parents interacting with their children, both on the net and off.

Danya Dahlin, teacher at Heart of the Lakes Elementary, recently started a class blog. She hopes to update the page weekly to include pictures of field trips, information about class activities, and eventually video of the students reading so parents can watch progress and work with the kids at home.

Dahlin said she got the idea from friends that are teachers, and reading blogs of other educators at scholastic.com. Heart of the Lakes also has a wiki site where staff can read and post information. Dahlin's husband, a technology coordinator at Lakes Country Service Cooperative in Fergus Falls, also started a blog this summer.

She also said major credit is due to Perham High School English teacher and technology coach Jill Walter.

"She has done a great job this year of really bringing technology into our classrooms in a variety of ways and has really encouraged us as a staff to connect with our students through media," Dahlin said.

Her main reason for starting her class blog was to create better communication between students and parents.

"I heard a lot from parents, 'when I talked to my child and asked them what they did in school that day, they just saw 'I don't know,'" she said. "I think that question can be overwhelming for a second grader. But with the blog, parents can look at pictures and talk about what's going on."

While getting the blog up and running, including getting parents' permission, took a while, the blog has been a hit with the kids.

"I pop up the blog on the SmartBoard at school and the kids get so excited," she said.

She already has plans for expanding the blog in the future. She hopes to have a link for each student, so parents can click on their child's name and watch video of the child reading to help them with fluency at home.

The blog is also a tool so friends and relatives in other states can watch what the kids are up to.

"If someone has a grandma in Texas, they can go to the website. It just connects everybody. It's a great tool."

To check out Mrs. Dahlin's second grade class's blog, go to danyajade.blogspot.com.

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