Primary Chalkboard: home and school communication
Showing posts with label home and school communication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home and school communication. Show all posts

Family Response Journals - Reading, Writing, and Memories

Hi, Friends!  This is Autumn from The Primary Techie.  I am always excited to blog for the Primary Chalkboard.  Today I am going to share one of my favorite reading and writing tools: Family Response Journals.  These journals are for parents and kids to write letters back and forth.

I got this idea from my daughter's first grade teacher many years ago.  I absolutely loved writing her letters and knowing that she would get to read them during her school day.  My daughter is 16 now and I still have that journal.  It is one of my most treasured keepsakes because it is a record of our relationship and what was happening during that time in our lives.  I have done Family Response Journals with my first graders for the past eleven years.  Here are some of the tips and tricks I have learned to make them successful.

In the beginning of the year, we brainstorm a letter that we can all write about - "Dear Mom,  We are learning about bugs.  My favorite bug is a _______________.  What is your favorite bug?  Love, ________."  If kids can or want to write independently, they are encouraged to do so.  I write the "generic" letter on the board for beginning writers to copy.  After Christmas, I no longer model a letter on the board.  I just wander around and help students as needed.  We write in our journals on Monday.  Parents have all week to write back before sending them back to school on Friday.

Kids LOVE to get letters back from their parents!  Here are some tips I always share with my parents:
  • If you don't send the journals, they can't do it!  This is a really fun way to encourage reading and writing.  PLEASE write back to your child and send journals back to school! 
  • Remember that this is being read by a beginning reader!  Use your NICEST printing.  The kids gain reading practice with this activity.  Cursive makes this impossible with little guys.
  • Kids should write to someone in their house, so they can write back.  Sometimes my journals are missing for weeks because a student decided to write to his grandma and left the journal at her house. 

 To make the journals, I print covers on colored paper and laminate.  The back cover has a word bank with words kids commonly use in their journals.  I have two types of pages for the inside - primary lined for the kids to use and regular lines for parents.  I print kid lines on the front and parent lines on the back.  My journals have 34 pages in them.  We are usually done with them a couple weeks before school gets out.  I find this nice because the end of the year can be hectic and it is nice to have something DONE.  I use a binding machine to bind the book and E6000 to glue the binding comb shut.

These make great end of the year keepsakes.  They take about 20-30 minutes a week, but are wonderful reading and writing practice.

Click here to download journal pages for FREE!

Thanks for reading, Friends!  Until next time,

Keeping In Touch With Parents - 2 Easy Ways!

Hi everyone,

This is Valerie from All Students Can Shine.
I'm here to show you 2 amazing online resources that I use to communicate with parents during the year. When it comes to our students' parents, communication is key! The more you stay in contact with them, the better your relationship will be. That being said, I make sure to stay on contact with my parents regularly by sending them pictures (what parent doesn't like seeing pictures of their kids!) and sending them text messages on a regular basis. 

Let's take a look at the pictures first. 

I use a share site called Shutterfly. This website is completely FREE and EASY to use. You can create your own classroom share site in a matter of minutes!

Once your share site it up and running, you can start inviting parents to join the group. Your share site is password protected, which means that only those who are added by you can access it and view the pictures. 
My students' parents really appreciate this feature, for obvious reasons!

There are many different options on the share site. You can add your class list, schedule, your volunteer list, field trip information, etc. The best part is the pictures and videos section! You can easily upload pictures and videos in a matter of seconds. My students' parents really seemed to enjoy it last year. They left comments on their kids' pictures, just like they would on Facebook. It was lots of fun!

This is what the page looks like, before you add any information to it. Parents will only see the items that you add, just like a regular blog. 

Another AWESOME feature is the printing! Parents can view their child's pictures and order prints. How amazing is that?

You can sign up for Shutterfly HERE.

The other way that I stay in touch with parents is by text messaging. No, I do not share my personal phone number with everyone. Instead, I use REMIND. It is a fabulous way to send quick messages to everyone all at once! 
The best part? It is EASY and FREE!

Remind doesn't only work on your phone. They have a great app for phones, but you can also use it on the computer and send your messages from the website. 

There are SO many different ways to use Remind. I use it mostly to remind parents of upcoming events, such as picture day or field trips. I also like to let them know when we do something special in class. This way, they can ask their kids about it at dinner time. They like to get a heads up so they can have a conversation about it that night. For example, in a few weeks I will be sending a message like this one: "Hello parents! Want to know if a pumpkin sinks or floats? Ask your child tonight and you will find out!"
It's just a quick and fun way to get parents involved in their child's school life :)

Here is a list of 25 ways you can use Remind with your class:

Remind has just launched their new stamps feature. you can read all about HERE
You can also get ideas for using this tool effectively on their blog
They post regularly and give really great tips!

How do you stay in touch with your students' parents?
We'd love to hear your ideas so please leave us a comment below!

Later gators,