Whether you call it â€śopen houseâ€ť or â€śback to school night,â€ť an evening for teachers to meet and greet parents is a fall ritual. This year, consider â€śflippingâ€ť the event: distribute rules and policies in writing, allow time for parents to see examples of student learning, and include an activity or two to help parents better understand the learning processes their children will experience.
Recently Anne Savage blogged about back to school tips, describing many classroom activities that would provide visual evidence of student learning. Seeing the box of tools for primary source analysis, a mini-museum, or pieces of a map to be analyzed and assembled will help parents understand what students will be learning and doing in the class. To deepen their understanding, invite parents to participate in one or two activities. Depending on the time available, you might:
- Select an image or a map from a primary source set and post it prominently. Have stacks of sticky notes readily available around the room, and invite parents to jot an observation on a sticky note and add it to the primary source.
- After posting an observation, parents might fill in the blanks in the sentence frame â€śI think __ because __â€ť on a second sticky note.
- Invite parents to browse a pre-printed stack of primary sources on various topics or themes, choose one, and leave it on their childâ€™s desk with a note explaining why they chose it.
Many of these can be implemented in only a few minutes and can provide an opportunity for meaningful conversation. Parents can leave feeling engaged and involved, with a better sense of what their children will be experiencing and learning. Plus, students will enjoy seeing their parentsâ€™ responses!
Many of these ideas came from conversations with teachers during workshops. Take a minute and leave a comment describing how you help parents understand how you use primary sources in your teaching.