Since one of the sections in our new book on teaching ELLs will be on working with families, I thought it would be useful to pull together all the related resources I have on the topic and put them in one “Best” list.
En Camino: Educational Toolkit For Families is a series of free online “modules,” available in both English and Spanish, designed to help answer parent and student questions about college. It’s from the National Center For Family Literacy.
Lesli Maxwell over at Education Week has written a good summary post, Immigrant Paradox Less Consistent in Young Children, Study Finds, about a study related to English Language Learners. The study itself is lengthy, but has an interesting section on immigrant parents and schools. I was going to copy and paste that section because it’s pretty short, but it unfortunately is “protected” and won’t allow that action. So, just go to the study link and you’ll find the family involvement section on page 10 and 11. It’s worth a visit.
Conditional Cash Transfers are payments made to families to encourage them to do things like go to doctor appointments, and to children for increased school attendance and higher standardized test scores, and have been in the news lately.
I’ve published a number of posts about them, and I thought readers might find it helpful if I brought them all together:
It pretty much goes over the same points those other pieces shared – except for how it ended:
But the report doesn’t mention the elephant in the room: it’s harder for unauthorized immigrant parents to get engaged in their kids’ educations. When parents are worried that any contact with a government employee will lead to their deportation, they’re much less likely to show up to parent-teacher conferences or have long talks with Head Start supervisors. That’s especially true when schools make an effort to make unauthorized immigrant parents feel unwelcome, by requiring them to get fingerprinted or show legal ID when they arrive at the school. And it can be exacerbated when federal immigration agents wait outside schools so that they can arrest parents after they’ve dropped off their children.
Malik Shakur said he was so inspired by the participation at the Prince George’s County School System’s annual “Men Make a Difference Day” on Monday that he is seriously considering joining the PTSA at his son’s school, John Hanson Montessori School in Oxon Hill.
Shakur, an attorney who is scheduled to be in court later this week, said he planned to clear his calendar after learning during the event that the school was hosting a career day on Friday.
Shakur was one of about 125 fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and others at John Hanson who participated in the annual countywide event, which brings fathers and other male role models into the classroom to promote parental involvement in public schools.
What’s intriguing about it is that it is apparently part of a national program promoting father-involvement in schools called Watch D.O.G.S. from The National Center For Fathering. I have heard of neither the program or the Center, but they sound helpful. Let me know what you know about them.
Feel free to make other suggestions in the comments section.
It quotes Anne Henderson, probably THE parent engagement/involvement expert in the United States.
Here’s a portion of what she had to say:
Anne T. Henderson, a senior consultant at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and a leading expert on the relationship between families and schools, agrees and says Robinson and Harris draw upon a limited body of federal survey data to cobble together some rather expansive and faulty conclusions.
While she sees some value in pointing out some of the drawbacks of “garden variety” forms of parental engagement, Henderson cites numerous weaknesses in Robinson’s and Harris’ work, including the absence of any new data collected by the authors, the lack of proper context to a lot of the data (especially around the information provided by parents about their school-related activities) and the obviously flawed use of student test scores as the only measure of success.
Henderson also points out that much of Robinson’s and Harris’ works fails to take into account that correlation does not equal causation.
“What very well may be happening is that parents of kids who are struggling are the parents who are trying to help their kids with homework,” Henderson explains. “So it’s not necessarily the case that the parents’ help is causing the kids to do worse, it’s the fact that the kids are doing poorly that has triggered the parents to help.”
It’s written by three college professors — By Todd Rogers, Lucas Coffman and Peter Bergman — and appeared on the CNN website.
I can’t emphasize enough that people should read the entire post, but here’s an excerpt:
Citing their research, the authors of the Times piece, Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris, describe provocative findings that show that students of parents who are very involved in their children’s education perform worse than students of parents who are less involved.
While the authors control for certain variables, their research only implies there is a relationship between parental involvement and student performance. This caveat is important; the existence of a relationship does not tell us what causes what.
Think of it this way: If you had two children, and one was getting A’s and the other C’s, which of them would you help more? The C student. An outsider, noticing that you’ve spent the school year helping only one of your children, might infer that parental help caused that child to earn lower grades. This of course would not be the case, and inferring causation here would be a mistake.
After examining more than 300 pages of The Broken Compass with its dozens of regressions and charts, I know no more about the causal relationship between parental involvement and academic progress than I did before. If the purpose of The Broken Compass were simply to raise questions about this inverse correlation, it might be a fine book. But when the authors and unthinking reporters use it to recommend that parents stop helping kids with homework, they are being irresponsible, no less so than advising sick people to avoid hospitals because they tend to kill you.
Be sure to check out the comments section for even more great ideas!
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.
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.
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…
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.
As an art teacher, I invite student’s families (and school faculty members) to our critiques at the end of a major unit or project! Students get to know other faculty, especially administration, parents are welcomed into the classroom, and it brings a sense of community to everyone involved!
I’ve only had a chance to scan it, but it looks helpful. One section that stood out to me was on student homework projects requiring family involvement. I don’t recall seeing previous research on that topic.
They just unveiled a new free mobile app at the TED Conference that allows anyone to record an interview with anyone and upload it their new site, StoryCorps.me. They have both iPhone and Android versions, and they’re great!
The app provides multiple suggestions for questions, depending on who you are interviewing (you can also add your own). It’s a perfect tool for having students interview their parents, grandparents or other older family members (which also makes it easy to ensure students have parental consent — by the way, their policy states users must be over 13). It’s super-simple to use. Of course, classmates could also interview others, as long as teachers had parental permission.
“But the main issue is this: No one consulted parents as to whether they wanted their child’s data collected or stored this way, just as no one asked them if they wanted their children to be tested to the degree they are,” Naison [Mark Naison, a professor at Fordham University]said.
Yet, for all of inBloom’s neutral-sounding intentions, industry analysts say it has stirred some parents’ fears about the potential for mass-scale surveillance of students. Parents like Rachael Stickland, a mother of two Jeffco students, say that schools are amassing increasing amounts of information about K-12 students with little proof that it will foster their critical thinking or improve their graduation rates.
“It’s a new experiment in centralizing massive metadata on children to share with vendors,” she said, “and then the vendors will profit by marketing their learning products, their apps, their curriculum materials, their video games, back to our kids.”
Streichenberger says inBloom is providing the “plumbing” to fix school districts’ currently disjointed systems. School districts control the data, though they may share that information with third-parties if they choose.
That promise has offered little comfort to many parents in school districts that use inBloom. Some parents in those districts feel that there’s not enough transparency around the data platform, what data will be stored, and who will have access to it. InBloom says it’s up to the states to determine what data is stored and whether parents have access.
Sprowal says parents were not adequately notified before her son’s school district started loading data on to the platform.
“I think if there was full disclosure, transparency, if they included us in the process, as they were developing it … it would have been fine,” she said. “It would have … put some constraints on it.”
inBloom lost its only remaining customer when New York State withdrew from it.
New York has reversed course to use an Atlanta-based company to store student data for parents and officials to use to track student progress, after the plan triggered privacy concerns and a legal challenge….
“We will not store any student data with inBloom, and we have directed inBloom to securely delete all the non-identifiable data that has been stored,” a statement Wednesday from state Education Department spokesman Dennis Tomkins said.
InBloom was founded in 2013 with $100 million in grant money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corp. The technology drew early interest from several states, but New York was the only one fully involved.
I’ve chronicled the ongoing fiasco of the Gates Foundation-founded-and-financed inBloom student data-vacuuming service called inBloom.
As usual, these guys never bothered asking parents and teachers what they thought before they initiated their bright idea and, now that they announced its dissolution, they’re blaming everybody but themselves and their funders.
, President Obama announced grants to five communities designated at “Promise Zones” that are planned to replicate — more or less — the Harlem Children’s Zone.
I’ve published many posts about the Harlem Children’s Zone — both positive and less than positive — including concerns about parent engagement and how they relate to local institutions. Though I don’t know all the specifics of these five new communities, it will be interesting to see how genuinely involved parents are in their efforts.
First, I’ll a few posts about President Obama’s announcements. Then, I’ll list links to my previous posts:
In fact, research shows that single mothers living in impoverished neighborhoods are likely to marry men who won’t help them get out of poverty. These men are likely to have children from other partnerships, lack a high school diploma, and have been incarcerated or have substance abuse problems, Williams noted.
Those who do marry usually don’t stay that way. One study found that nearly two-thirds of single mothers who married were divorced by the time they reached 44 years old.
“Single mothers who marry and later divorce are worse off economically than single mothers who never marry,” she said.
Promoting marriage among single mothers may not help their children, either. Recent research by Williams and several colleagues found no physical or psychological advantages for the majority of teenagers born to a single mother who later married.
Rather than promoting marriage, the government should focus on preventing unintended births, Williams said. She found in one study that having a child outside of marriage is associated with negative mental health outcomes among African American women only when the birth was unexpected.
Lamb explains that, despite their high rates of poverty, “the majority of children raised in single-parent or divorced families are well-adjusted,” even if outcomes are slightly more negative overall than for kids raised in “traditional” families. It’s an open question whether it’s the money or the family structure itself holding back that minority of children of single parents that turn out maladjusted.
And is where everyone should be screaming from the rooftops: “Correlation isn’t causation!” If you don’t have access to a roof, stand on your desk like you’re in Dead Poet’s Society and bellow, “Just because poverty is more common among the unmarried doesn’t mean it’s a function of being unmarried!” Yell that. Yell that to the heavens!
But even if Washington got rid of all its dumb and ineffective policies to promote marriage and implemented a number of smart ones to do so, it might all be for naught. Some researchers think that marriage — or a lack thereof — is not the real problem facing poor parents; being poor is. “It isn’t that having a lasting and successful marriage is a cure for living in poverty,” says Kristi Williams of Ohio State University. “Living in poverty is a barrier to having a lasting and successful marriage.”
To understand why, it is worth looking at the economic fortunes of the poor in isolation — marriage rates and childbearing out of wedlock aside. Globalization, the decline of labor unions, technological change and other tidal economic forces have battered the poor, with years of economic growth failing to lift their prospects. These forces have inevitably affected young people’s choices, researchers think.
In an economy that offers so little promise to those at the bottom, family planning in the name of upward mobility doesn’t make much sense. “Engaging in family formation by accident rather than by design, you get a story of low-opportunity costs,” says Kathryn Edin, the poverty researcher at Johns Hopkins. “We’ve created the situation where pregnancy is not the worst thing that can happen to you. It can be seen as a path to redemption in an otherwise violent, unpredictable, hopeless world.”
Similar forces might also spur some young couples not to get married, even if they want to. Many poor women opt not to marry the poor men in their lives, for instance, to avoid bringing more economic chaos into their homes. And the poor women who do marry tend to have unstable marriages — often to ill effect. One study, for instance, found that single mothers who married and later divorced were worse off economically than those who did not marry at all. “These women revere marriage, they want to get married,” Williams says. “They aren’t making an irrational choice not to marry.”
Tragedies like Sedwick’s suicide can spark the hunt for a scapegoat, but prosecuting parents isn’t the solution, says Sameer Hinduja, a criminal justice professor at Florida Atlantic University and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “Legislators and politicians jump in and say we’ve got to pass laws, have stronger sanctions. But when you think it through and ask what’s going to deter someone from messing up the same way again, (prosecuting the parents) is not the best way to respond. “
Legal sanctions imposed on parents could pit the child against the parents, Hinduja added. “The child will be in trouble even further, perhaps for getting the parent into trouble,” he said.
Even the most well-intentioned parents cannot police their kids’ social-networking habits around the clock, said Tina Meier, whose 13-year-old daughter Megan committed suicide in 2006 after allegedly being hoaxed and bullied on the social network MySpace by Lori Drew, the mother of one of Megan’s former friends. Drew was found guilty by a federal jury of three computer-crime misdemeanors. In 2009, a federal judge vacated the conviction.
“Is it important for us to hold parents accountable for their children’s actions?” Meier asked. “Yes. But it’s impossible for parents to be there 24 hours a day.”
There are many parents “who truly simply don’t know about it, or who are really trying (to monitor their children’s computer use),” Meier told NBC News.
Casey M., a 17-year-old Internet safety advocate from New Rochelle, N.Y., feels indicting parents for their kids’ online bullying acts will have “an inverse effect” and increase online tormenting. Casey M. is part of the national Teen Angels campaign, which speaks to parents and teenagers about Internet safety and cyberbullying. Group members don’t use their last names when speaking with the media.
“The more that parents try to control what their kids are doing online, the more sneaky kids get, and the less parents know what their kids are doing online,” Casey M. said, adding that she’s never faced serious cyberbullying. “The kids would try to hide things a little more.”
Yes, parents need support and encouragement to monitor and teach their children. I just get very uncomfortable with the emphasis on punishing parents. I’ve previously posted about a number of instances where public officials seem to want to use that as their main strategy to encourage parent involvement — it’s certainly easier than the slow process of building relationships, spending time on encouragement, and leading with our ears instead of our mouths….
There has recently been a flurry of media attention to what is called the so-called “word gap.” It’s the term used to describe the difference in vocabulary development of low-income children and middle-and-high-income children during their pre-school years.
In addition to the media attention, there have been some high-profile efforts at trying to respond to the issue, and that’s where it gets particularly controversial. I thought a “Best” list here on the topic might be useful to readers:
It includes discussion about the Rhode Island that’s inserting recording devices into children’s clothing, which I have previously posted about skeptically (though I’ve tried to maintain an open mind).
Hillary Clinton spoke to a friendly crowd at Oakland’s UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital on Wednesday about her new campaign (no, not that one) to get parents to spend more time talking, singing and reading to their young children.
“Brain research is showing us how important the first years of life are,” Clinton said, “and how much a simple activity can help build brains.”
Oakland will be the second city – the first was Tulsa, Oklahoma – to receive a concentrated dose of messaging about the importance of verbally engaging infants and toddlers. As part of the “Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing” campaign, residents can expect a multimedia campaign featuring television commercials, a radio spot, billboards and bus station ads. Local retailer Oaklandish will also be launching a new clothing line for babies that includes onesies that read, “Let’s talk about hands and feet,” and baby blankets proclaiming, “Let’s talk about bedtime.” For every item purchased, Oaklandish will donate one item to a family in need.
I thought that was interesting, particularly since another study that I’ve posted about in my other blog where adolescent students received encouraging texts was deemed a failure (I don’t have time right now to find that link but will add it later). Perhaps parents of very young children are in a more motivated frame of mind? I wonder how this experiment would work with parents of older children?
The “30 million-word” gap is arguably the most famous but least significant part of a landmark study, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young Children, by the late University of Kansas child psychologists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley. As the work turns 20 this year, new research and more advanced measuring techniques have cast new light on long-overshadowed, and more nuanced, findings about exactly how adult interactions with infants and young children shape their early language development.
The petition, gaining traction in parts of Florida and around the country, urges education administrators to rely less on standardized tests and use other measures to evaluate students, schools and teachers.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools has instituted 52 new standardized tests, and parents are up in arms about it.
In it, she criticizes many who blame the fact that more and more parents are “opting out” of having their children take standardized tests solely on “communication” issues:
It is all seen as just a failure to communicate. And therein lies the problem. The focus on communication, rather than on a response to concerns, demonstrates a lack of faith in the ability of parents and teachers to understand what is occurring. Parents understand the high-stakes testing rationale. They just don’t buy it. The interpretation of grassroots parental opposition as a “communication failure” communicates arrogance. It is the ultimate “nanny state” response—you do not understand what we know, and what we know and do are best for you.
Turn On, Tune In, Opt Out is an article in The Nation about the growing popularity of efforts by parents to have their children “opt-out” of taking standardized tests.
Parents who complain about testing—particularly affluent, educated ones—are easily derided, as they were by Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Education Secretary, a few months ago, when he described critics of the Common Core as “white suburban moms who—all of a sudden—[find] their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.” But parents who challenge the status quo on testing are not motivated by a deluded pride in their children’s unrecognized accomplishments, or by a fear that their property values will diminish if their schools’ scores’ drop. They are, in many cases, driven by a conviction that a child’s performance on a standardized test is an inadequate, unreliable measure of that child’s knowledge, intelligence, aptitude, diligence, and character—and a still more unreliable measure of his teachers’ effort, skill, perseverance, competence, and kindness.
The post gives a very good overview of state laws on “opting out” of standardized tests.
It appears that some schools are making it very difficult for parents to “opt-out” of standardized testing for their child. I’m not sure if this attitude is the best one to take to further parent engagement….
Standing Up to Testing is a New York Times article on parents opting their students out of standardized testing in New York City.
Here’s an excerpt:
This movement of refusal does not evolve out of antipathy toward rigor and seriousness, as critics enjoy suggesting, but rather out of advocacy for more comprehensive forms of assessment and a depth of intellectual experience that test-driven pedagogy rarely allows. In the past year, the movement has grown considerably among parents and educators, across political classifications and demographics.
The editorial board of a big-city newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, has gone on record as not only supporting the right of parents to have their children opt out of high-stakes standardized tests but also saying they are “right to protest” in this manner.
“Parents have few, if any venues to express their concerns”
Thanks to Bill Ferriter, I’ve learned about a Georgia school district who had a police officer tell parents who were opting out of state tests that they would and their children would be trespassing if they were on school grounds during the testing and then threatened to ban their kids from a field trip because of their actions.
when it comes to “opting out,” what’s important to me is the idea that you don’t have to agree with its proponents’ solution to acknowledge that they may be correct about the existence of a problem. There are good and bad policy applications happening right now, and it’s important to address the bad ones and build on the good ones.
which tests students more frequently than most other states, many schools this year will dedicate on average 60 to 80 days out of the 180-day school year to standardized testing. In a few districts, tests were scheduled to be given every day to at least some students.
A new wave of standardized exams, designed to assess whether students are learning in step with the Common Core standards, is sweeping the country, arriving in classrooms and entering the cross hairs of various political movements. In New Jersey and elsewhere, the arrival has been marked with well-organized opposition, a spate of television attack ads and a cascade of parental anxiety.
Almost every state has an “opt out” movement. While its true size is hard to gauge, the protests on Facebook, at school board meetings and in more creative venues — including screenings of anti-testing documentaries — have caught the attention of education officials.
A growing number of parents are refusing to let their children take standardized tests this year, arguing that civil disobedience is the best way to change what they say is a destructive overemphasis on tests in the nation’s public schools.
Thousands of students are opting out of new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core standards, defying the latest attempt by states to improve academic performance.
This “opt-out” movement remains scattered but is growing fast in some parts of the country. Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for the exams. Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about standardized testing.
Be A Learning Hero is a site/organization sponsored by a number of organizations, including the PTA and The Teaching Channel, that has many resources on how parents can support their children. It includes a number of materials on Common Core, particularly on understanding math changes.