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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Having Fun with Parents

One of the most difficult things to do while teaching our students, is to also have our parents involved. This is difficult for all of us for a number of reasons. As difficult as this is, I try my best to keep parents involved whenever possible.
This past week, my Principal allowed me to have a whole day dedicated to family traditions. The parents were allowed to come in at whatever time that was available to them.  They would help their child explain a special tradition that their family would do around the Holiday season.
When I first had the idea, other teachers were skeptical.  They were not sure how successful the day would be with parents coming in and out. Not to mention that I was not giving the parents a certain time limit to stay. I told everyone "the more the merrier!"

So how did the day go?

I can't say enough how GREAT the entire day was!!! The kids loved their parents their, the parents loved seeing their kids in school, and everyone loved sharing about their families!! We had pictures, ornaments, recipes, Italian fruit cake (baked for us to share), Menorah's, dreidels (enough for the kids to play with), reindeer food (everyone made some), latkes (cooked for us to try), decorations, and we even had a parent share a gingerbread house making kit for EVERY student in my room!!
I posted some of our pictures on our class wiki space.  I received so many "thank you's" from the parents. They had just as much fun as the kids!
Now it's your turn... please share a wonderful idea that you had to keep parents involved!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I have often said that the best way to teach our students is to teach/lead by example.  I love being able to come into school and tell my students how much I enjoy a class that I am taking. Last night we were lucky enough to Skype with Ginger Lewman, Kevin and Michelle Honeycutt!! I was excited to talk to my kids this morning for a lot of reasons;  one being that I have never Skyped! The biggest reason that I was so excited was who we were able to Skype! Keep in mind my students are only 7years old.  When they see how excited their teacher is to learn, I hope that I can make them feel that same excitement!
We were asking our trio of experts about PBL: Project Based Learning.  It was so amazing to have three motivating and innovative teachers answer our questions.  Personally, I love the idea of PBL.  I have tried little projects in the past that the kids have loved.  These are the projects that Kevin Honeycutt would call the ones that aren't "time vampires."  I liked that term because it's a simple phrase to show that you can do a project with the kids that is fun, and they are learning yet doesn't take up a lot of unnecessary time.
I think the biggest lesson that I was able to walk away with last night was that PBL will start to eliminate the question "why do we need to know this?"  In PBL, the students are 'caught' up in finding the answer to their big question that they forget they are doing math, writing, SS, and/or science. 
I have mentioned head fakes in a previous post.  I think that PBL is the ultimate head fake! Not only will the students be learning one subject, they will be learning about multiple subjects AND learning how to use proper resources on their own!  The kids will actually know how to be independent! Something that we all have been striving for our kids to learn!
So are you asking the same question we did? How do you assess? Easy! You talk with your students! You reinforce as you make them discuss what they are doing, again and again. By working with your students on a project, you will know what your students are learning! The best part, is the publishing part of PBL. Every project or assignment needs a culminating activity.  Well, this is the best assessment yet! What if your students can give you more than just a regular poster? What if they can give you a recorded diolague on a Voicethread, or a video on Animoto?  These are just a couple of the best example that your students can give you that they are learning!
Please share your thoughts and comments!