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Tool: Class projects communicate with families

Story:   As Joe's mother picked him up after school day, his teacher, Joan, overheard this conversation between the two:

“What did you do in school today?”

“Nothing.”

“You must have done something. What did you learn?” his mother insisted.

“We played a great new game in gym today,” he finally replied.

Joan was becoming discouraged because students like Joe never seemed to mention the things she taught in class. “Why aren't my students excited about the things they learn and why don't they want to share them with their families?” she asked finally her mentor.

Judy, her mentor, responded by asking two questions:
  • What are possible reasons that students aren't sharing what they've learned at school?
  • What are different ways that Joan could facilitate more communication between her students and their families about learning?

One vehicle they areeed could help the situation is the sharing of class projects.

The class project solution: Class projects can be a great tool for sharing with families. Communicating this way allows families to see what you are teaching, continue class discussions at home and even conveys to a family information about their student's progress. Often, it takes minimal time to facilitate this sharing with families. Some methods include publishing a book of journal entries on a topic and taking turns bringing it home, sending home a class graph, videotaping presentations or writing a letter to families asking for information.

Use these questions to help you discover which projects are best for sharing and communicating:

  • Did everyone in the class participate in this project?
  • Is there an easy way to distribute this, such as by making copies for everyone or taking turns with one copy?
  • What format will work best for this project and my families: original project, copies, photographs, CD, video, email?
  • How will I keep track if students take this home one at a time?
  • How often will I share classwork with families?
  • What am I hoping families will learn about our classroom and my teaching?