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Friday, January 24, 2014

Getting Families Involved in Math Education Part 2

In this post, we will be taking a look at getting families involved at back to school night or open house.

We will look at some big ideas from chapter 2 of this book and then I will give my take on how we apply these ideas and other things we do at open house to get families involved in math education.

In this book, the author acknowledges how challenging it can be to speak to parents and get a year's worth of ideas into one night but offers a few easy to do tips that can get you started.

1. Choose manipulatives.  Having manipulatives out for parents to see how they are used to develop big math ideas makes them feel much more comfortable with their use.  

2. Choose student work: Think about including work samples from a previous class that illustrate some of the big ideas students will be learning that year and some of the strategies and approaches they may have to the problem. 

3. Prepare the environment.  There are many ideas in this section to help make parents feel more comfortable such as making sure there are enough seats and materials.  

4. Think about what you want to say.  What are the big ideas you want to get across about how and why you teach math?

Clip art by Illumismart

Here is what happens in my school on open house night
     Our families have about half an hour to walk around classrooms, check out student work and have their students show them around.  The second half hour each classroom teacher prepares a presentation about the year's curriculum and expectations for homework etc. 

For part one of open house when parents and kids are mingling and looking around each classroom has around 2 math stations or games out that kids show their parents.  These are things from their current rotation of math stations that they already know how to play.  We usually try to make sure they are math games because the students really love playing against their parents.  We also might put out manipulatives for free explore, especially if that manipulative is new to that grade level.  These games are set up in each classroom.

Second graders demonstrate a math station to their parents.  This game is about finding pairs that make 100 using place value decks.  

In the hall by the main entrance, I like to set up a math information table.  Year to year it varies on what I present at the table.  If we have a new math program for a particular band of grades, I might have more information and sample materials from that program so that parents who have questions or what to know more can access this information.  Other years I have set up handouts about helping kids learn math at home or given demonstrations on alternative ways to solve problems besides using an algorithm.  I have also had copies and supplies for easy to make games that work on skills such as multiplication facts that parents are always asking me for new ways to work on these ideas with their kids.  As the math teacher this makes my presence known at open house, gives me a chance to interact with parents and makes me available for questions, comments and concerns.  

During the second part of open house when teachers make their presentations to parents, they try to highlight the big ideas of math learning that will happen that year and explain that students will be learning and creating strategies to solve problems that parents will not be familiar with.  Our math program has some very parent friendly handouts on what to expect in each grade level as well as a parent support website.  This information is available for parents to take home on paper.  If there is a new teacher or new program, I might present with them but most of the current teachers are quite comfortable with this part.

Also during the second part if at all possible, we like to have student work samples available (usually from a previous year with student names removed) so parents can see what types of math thinking their kids will be engaged in.  I do have to say that this can be tricky to get to on this night and if we don't get to it we try again during other parent interactions throughout the year.

Student work samples are great to display during back to school night

I like to find my way back to the front door as families are leaving, especially now that I know most families and they know what my role is.  This gives them one more opportunity to connect with me.  When I was first starting out, it was one more chance for people to figure out who I was.  

How do you get families involved in their students' math education at open house?

Want to check out all 6 parts, here they are!
Part 1: Newsletters 
Part 2: Open House
Part 4: Homework

1 comment:

  1. You have so many great ideas here that are simple for teachers to implement to get parents more involved! I'm going to apply your ideas in the reading world! :)
    Learning to the Core