A middle school ELA teacher investigates successful opportunities she has offered, or will offer, to her students’ families in an effort to help parents participate in the learning activities of their children. Ms. McMullen moves beyond her classroom duties and contributes to her school’s CCSS initiatives, projects, and etc. by creating a Common Core PPP (featured next week! — So come back!)
The opportunities I have offered to my families begin within the first weeks of school, such as at Back to School Night. When I initially meet parents, I give a presentation that introduces parents and families to the new curriculum that our district implemented and discuss some of the expectations of the Common Core Standards and the ELA classroom. After creating this PowerPoint, I feel I will definitely be using it at Back to School Night next year because it gives a better overall understanding, as well as specific strategies for parents and families about the expectations are of students, teachers, parents, and communities in relation to CCSS than what I’ve used in the past. I also have a class website, Google Classroom, and communicate with parents through email and phone to keep them in the loop of what we are learning. I definitely feel that I can improve on helping parents see themselves as true partners in education and increase their participation in their children’s learning and becoming of common core ready learners. Some ideas include having students conduct interviews of family members that relate to research or writing we are doing in class; have students have conversations or complete a career investigation project about the reading, writing, listening, and speaking their parents do in their jobs; and, have students and parents keep a 24-hour home reading and writing journal (like the assignment we had to complete earlier in the course).
Our students are fortunate to have one-to-one iPads that they are able to take home with them. In order to include parents as partners in all that comes along with using the iPads (from subject matter to responsible use and communication to online safety, etc.), our school hosted parent technology education workshops. Some parents showed up, but it would be great next year to get a higher number of parents involved because it really is critical that parents are partners in helping their children to develop intelligent technology and communication skills and decision making.
In order to further involve the community in the understanding and implementation of the CCSS, one idea is to have guests come into the classroom. This year when we were completing the Holocaust Unit with 8th grade, we brought in a Jewish Rabbi to speak to the students. I think it would be great to bring in other real-world workers to speak to students about how they use reading, writing, speaking, and listening in their jobs. I think that this also means as teachers having real conversations about what the CCSS are and why they are important. When people ask me about the CCSS, I always say positive things about the shifts and changes and how they are helping to prepare students to think more critically. I think having those conversations and as a teacher having a positive outlook on common core is really important in fostering common core students, parents, teachers, and communities.
Another idea is to have students get involved in community projects and activities, as well as allow them opportunities to seek resources outside of school. For example, find out information about your city or county library and give students and parents steps for getting a library card. Our county library has a digital library where our kids and parents can check out books digitally! They are always getting the newest and most popular books (and my students love to read using their phones or iPads). This could also be an incredible resource for schools or teachers that don’t have an extensive library collection. I think it also encourages choice and real reading, not just reading because it’s required, and may even give parents opportunities to read more!
Finally, I am going a start class blogs next year. We could possibly share our blogs with parents and other community organizations.