Kenna Bourke, Oxford Discover co-author, shares some creative ideas for using technology to help parents support their children’s learning.
Four times a year, I get an email that contains a mysterious thing called a report card. This is a school report on the progress of a six-year-old (name changed for privacy!) who’s not my child, but who’s very important to me. It goes on for several pages, and looks like this:
Great! But I don’t know what Mimosa is reading or how I can help turn her into a full-time genius! What stories is she reading? Does she like them? What’s she learning in science? I’d really like to know!
Do you want one simple way to help parents support your classroom teaching in the home?
Like teachers, parents are busy people. They might only look at a school website a few times a year, but many of them have social media accounts, which they look at daily. How about creating a closed page for your class on Facebook, or whichever social network is popular in your country?
Here are a few ideas for using this as a tool to help parents feel more involved and excited about what’s happening in your class:
1. Try sharing a short biography of an author that the child and family can research
For example, Who is Michael Rosen? What’s he written? When was he born? What’s his daughter’s name? What do you think about the poem ‘A Dangerous Raisin?’
2. Advertise your projects
Explain what you’re going to do so your students can prepare. Or post the results of the projects once they’re done so the parents can see them.
For example, How many subtraction problems can you think of at home? In what contexts do we use subtraction every day? What’s a funny subtraction problem you can ask your friends?
3. Share the week’s lesson theme so it can be discussed at home
For example, Oxford Discover begins each new unit with a Big Question: How do we have fun? What makes birds special? How do numbers help us? Great dinnertime conversation ideas!
4. Preview a reading text so children can discuss their prior knowledge of the subject with their family
You could do this by sharing a simple three-line synopsis of what you’ll be reading in class. Provide some questions for parents to discuss with their children.
For example, What do you know about symmetry? What symmetrical objects can you find at home? What’s the most beautiful example of symmetry you can think of?
5. Follow up on reading texts or topics that have captured the students’ imaginations by posting links to sites that contain further information
For example, in Oxford Discover, you’ll find a fiction reading about a whistling language. That language also really exists! There are schools on the island of La Gomera that have made this ancient language — silbo gomero — a compulsory school subject.
6. Post a picture that relates to your lesson to stimulate discussion
This is really fun! Provide some sample questions, too.
For example, What’s going on with these cars? Why can’t you see through their windows? Where do you think the picture was taken? Who invented wheels? What would life be like if we didn’t have cars?
7. Include links to free parent support sites
Oxford Parents gives parents simple, effective advice on supporting their children’s classroom language learning at home.
Would you like practical tips on developing a strong school-home link and developing 21st Century skills in your children? Visit our site on Teaching 21st Century skills with confidence for free video tips, activity ideas and teaching tools.
1 April 2014 at
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