Sunday, January 16, 2011

Academic Family Nights

Several times a year, we hold academic Family Nights to communicate grade level expectations with parents and answer frequently asked questions. Earlier in the year, Second grade teachers held a 2nd Grade Math Night, and this week Third grade teachers hosted an FCAT Reading and Math Information session while Fourth grade teachers held their FCAT Writes Night.

The session topics are selected with that grade level’s specific needs in mind. Typically, 2nd grade parents have many questions about the transition in math. They are curious about how math is being taught conceptually and what that means in reference to skill based teaching. They also want to know if their child will learn the standard algorithm for addition and subtraction the way they did. We begin the conversation with an overview of the three prongs of math—concepts, skills, and problem solving and explain how we use our math resources of Math Investigations, Every Day Math Counts, and Envisions to meet grade level Sunshine State Standards while teaching within each of the three prongs. Then, our teachers concentrate on explaining the strategies of addition and subtraction so parents have a better understanding of how we are teaching number sense and flexibility of thought. The session wraps with an open floor so all parents leave with their questions answered.
Third grade parents are always full of questions about FCAT and its implications. 3rd grade is the first year that students take the state standardized test in Reading and Math so this session is often packed with curious parents. The Third grade teachers provide an overview of the many facets of FCAT as well as show parents some sample problems. In addition, they discuss the embedded ways we are preparing students, like spiraling homework and formative assessments, and we clarify how we don’t stop teaching at any point for FCAT prep. Sharing strategies that parents can implement at home to help their child is a part of this gathering. Again, the evening ends with a questions and answers session.

Fourth grade parents are old hats at FCAT so just when those questions dissipate, they are curious about the state writing test. What do students have to score? What does meeting the standard look like? How are you preparing students for success on the test? How is a prompt different from the Writers’ Workshop? Is my child going to do well? These questions drive the evening’s conversation. In addition, teachers hold a fish bowl mini Writers’ Workshop with students to give parents a bird’s eye view of what is happening to prepare students in the classroom. Explaining the logistics of the 45 minute prompt write is something new to parents, and we hope they walk away feeling good about what we are doing to prepare their child. Teachers field questions as the session concludes.

Nights like these provide the platform for a deeper parent understanding of our curriculum, standards, and state assessment expectations. We hope that they leave with peace of mind and comfort in knowing that we thoughtfully and strategically prepare their students not only for the state assessment but for their future.


dayle timmons said...

These are such informative nights for parents and you can tell by how packed the nights are how much parents appreciate them!

mj said...

wow..nice posting..Very well done to you all for doing so well!

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