The Best Student Projects That Need Family Engagement — Contribute Your Lessons!

I’d like to create a very lengthy list of lessons that require students to engage with their parents and families in a positive way.

I know I’ve previously posted about some, but I need to track them down. I’m also hoping that lots of teachers will send in summaries of successful lessons that they’ve done. I’ll add them to list and, of course, give you credit.

You can find all my parent engagement-related “Best” lists here.

Here’s what I have so far:

Curious Homework: An Inquiry Project for Students and Parents is by Suzie Boss.

Good Teachers Embrace Their Students’ Cultural Background is an article from The Atlantic.

Here’s an excerpt:

Culturally responsive teaching doesn’t mean lowering standards, Irvine says. Take dialect, for example. Teachers need to help students speak and write in Standard English, but they’ll be more successful in that effort if they begin by respecting the way a student and his family speak at home.

Creating a link between home and school can enrich all kinds of lessons. Teachers can ask their students to interview their communities and condense the information into a letter to the mayor. Parents can be invited into the classroom to talk about their work. Students can be asked to think critically about articles and texts, exploring them for signs of cultural bias.

Interactive Homework Spurs Parent Involvement, Study Finds is the title of a useful blog post by Sarah Sparks over at Education Week. Here’s an excerpt:

Homework assignments that require help from family members can get parents more involved in middle school, a time many parents become less visible in school, concludes a new study in the School Community Journal…

…During a seven-week trial during the 2010-11 school year, 192 students in nine 8th-grade classes were given one assignment each week using the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork, or TIPS, program, which includes assignments that require students to discuss concepts they learn in class with a family member to complete projects.

Reader Lori Lee contributes idea:

is a PBL lesson from the Buck Institute where students interview a family member about their life experiences and then create a nonfiction narrative based on a story from the interview. From here students then publish the collection of stories using an online publisher and organize a book launch event to the stores with family and public. I did project last year and it was amazing! I am in the middle of it right now and I still love project!

Maria Caplin contributes this idea:

Every year to start our measurement unit, I don’t assign any math HW except to have the students cook with their parents. Always a huge success. Here is my link.

I published a post titled The Importance Of Telling “Family Stories.” In it, I discussed an article that reviewed a number of studies that found value in parents telling their children about family stories.

The Washington Post wrote a more in-depth piece about one of those studies, and included a pretty useful “Do You Know” series of questions that teachers could easily give to students as an assignment. I love projects that require students asking their parents questions, and this one would be perfect.

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One thought on “The Best Student Projects That Need Family Engagement — Contribute Your Lessons!

  1. I’ve had mixed results with family-engagement student projects, ranging from delight to disgust. I required honors biology students to create a bug box and collect 50 different insects. Some parents embraced the project, finding insects in stores and collecting during vacation. Other parents said it “ruined the summer” (really?).

    Another activity was a Rube Goldberg assignment. This was to be done at home and video-taped for in-school presentation. The students enjoyed it overall, and some parents really got into it; other parents, however, did not enjoy the clutter. I am doing the Rube Goldberg again this year and trying to modify the directions so that it is smaller and more pieces can be built in school.

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