As in the words of Alice Cooper “Schools Out for Summer”! Well, at least it is very close. As another school year comes to an end, families contemplate what to do with their children over the summer break. If parents are contemplating keeping their children home for the summer, regression becomes a concern. Regression is the loss of learned skills; usually after breaks in instruction once school is let out for summer vacation. Some regression is normal in all children, but in some instances, students are profoundly affected by lapses in instruction. These students may be unable to store concepts in their long-term memory in a way that can be easily recalled. The amount of instruction they need to recover or “recoup” their abilities may be longer than other students need, and they may need additional instruction to catch up. This week’s PTchat is to discuss techniques, strategies, and activities to prevent regression from happening. Some suggestions are reading activities, calculating grocery bills, planning/budgeting the family’s summer vacation, journal keeping, scrapbooking, and more.
Please join us at 9PM EDT on Wednesday, 6/12 as we discuss Summer Skills to Prevent Regression.
What K-12 expectations should we have for students to read over the summer? Why?
What are the ways classroom teachers can encourage summer reading?
If parents are encouraging summer reading, what kinds of things are they most likely doing?
How can keep school libraries stay virtually open when so many are closed from June-September?
What tech tools can be used to encourage summer reading, keep logs or share literary experiences?
How can the whole family encourage summer reading? What practices would you recommend?
How can we make these summer habits the norm in students’ homes?
Please join us Wednesday, 5/29 at 9PM EDT for a one hour conversation on how parents and teachers can make the most of summer reading opportunities for kids. Use #PTchat and #summerreading in your tweets.
If you looked into today’s classroom, what skills would you see being taught through the doors of a Kindergarten class? 4thgrade class? AP Science class? When preparing students to be college and career ready, schools normally focus on the skills students will be in order to be successful in a competitive 21st Century world. “Schools do a good job of teaching reading, writing, science, math and other “hard” skills that are both essential and valuable to performing well on the job” (Aricia E. LaFrance,Parenting and Career Coach). In order to prepare students both at home and at school, soft skills are also important traits to be included in daily interactions. La France (2013) defines “soft skills” as a complex system of traits and habits including: confidence, flexibility, honestly, integrity, the ability to see things from different perspectives, optimism, and common sense. These soft skills are habits that have been cultivated over time; starting in the home, then developed throughout time in school.
This week’s #PTchat will focus on how parents and educators can join together to help students cultivate soft skills both at home and in school. Join us this Wednesday, May 15th at 9pm EDT/6pm PDT, to discuss specific strategies families and educators can use to help students develop soft skills.
This week on #PTchat brings something new – a conversation that is both on Twitter and visually hosted on Youtube via Google Hangout. Join us as we facilitate a conversation on how we can appreciate and recognize today’s teachers on a daily basis, as well as share some recent findings from Finland.
Hangout guests will include the #PennFinn13 group who just got back from a inquiry-driven trip to Finland. They will share reflections on how we might learn from how Finland recognizes teachers with trust, respect, and autonomy.
How we can bring teacher appreciation into the heart of our schools and programs?
The Student Voice movement is gaining traction. On April 13th, approximately 200 students and their influential supporters gathered in New York to bring what was once a virtual movement, face to face. (See videos from Student Voice LIVE embedded in this post)
With people attending from across the world and taking part from satellite events in six continents and across the United States, the interest and energy is certainly global.
On this #PTchat, we will discuss the important role that adult stakeholders played at the event and ways that they can advance and are already advancing the movement. Join the conversation on Wednesday, April 24th at 9pm EST/6PM PST, using the #PTchat hashtag.
This Wednesday night, 4/17/13 on #PTchat (9PM EDT / 6PM PST) we’re discussing how schools can better engage families of students with special needs with Dr. Scott Roth.
Dr. Roth (@TheHelpTheyNeed) is licensed psychologist and New Jersey certified school psychologist providing psychological and psycho-educational assessment, treatment, and consultation to children, adolescents, and families. He has spent a decade in the public schools working within the special education system while collaborating with parents and supporting students. He is currently the Supervising Clinical Psychologist at a school-based mental health program and maintains a private practice where he evaluates and treats children, adolescents, and families. Dr. Roth has been an expert witness before the Administrative Law Judge of in the state of New Jersey and a court-appointed expert for the Superior Court of New Jersey’s Family Part.
We’re looking forward to a great conversation on how regular ed and special ed teachers, school and parent leaders can engage deeper, families of students with special needs. Please join us Wednesday night for #PTchat.
*New to Twitter chats? Here’s a printable resource from Edutopia for parents and teachers on how to engage in the wealth of free global and transparent conversations happening at any given time.
You may have heard about Kathy Newmann, a parent who is opting her nine-year old 3rd grader Jacob out of this year’s PSSA testing. Kathy is also an English professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the latest to join other parents around the country who are finally saying NO to the annual spring state testing period. In Illinois it’s called the ISAT. In New York they are now called ELAs. Every state’s students, teachers, administrators and parents are well aware of what teaching and learning look like before, during and after these tests. The scores will then be posted in the newspaper to compare school to school, district to district and state to state rather than supporting student learning, growth and development. Schools have other formative and summative assessments which serve that purpose. Many consider these state tests to be a multi-billion dollar anxiety-filled, add-on the Department of Education hangs their hat on each year without any research that tells us it benefits educational reform. Montgomery County (MD) Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr is teh latest leader to call for a test sabbatical (detailed below).
For some kids the annual test-fest is an opportunity to feel a sense of confidence in their academic skills. For others including me when I was a kid, these weeks of testing are filled with anxiety and a sense of defeat. Hearing my teachers tell me they can’t help me or explain to me what I am to do to solve a problem is something I can still remember as an adult. This week on #ptchat, we’ll discuss standardized tests, and why an increasing number of parents are choosing to opt their children out of these assessments (See United Opt Out National). We’ve invited parents who are actively opting their children out of these tests to join our conversation. Join us on Wednesday, April 10th at 9PM EDT / 6PM PST.
As a teacher, my purpose in selecting this topic is in hopes of changing the behavior of a very small group of educators who are labeled difficult to deal with. It is in my opinion, and I believe many in education would agree, that there are more wonderful, caring, approachable teachers than there are not. This week’s chat is not to target difficult teachers, but to provide approaches we might use to lessen the tension between a parent and their child’s teacher. All companies in a situation like this can grow from experience; parents can learn how to respectfully approach a teacher and still discuss their concerns and teachers can learn how to reflect when situations like this arise.
It is my goal that at the conclusion of this week’s #PTchat, participants leave with a few strategies if ever faced in a situation as this. Join us this Wednesday, 4/3/13 at 9pm EDT / 6pm PST on #PTchat as we discuss “How to Deal with a Difficult Teacher as a Parent.”
#PTchat hosted by Dana Sirotiak When you picture a positive learning environment, what comes to mind? “A positive learning environment is one in which school staff, students, and parents build safe and peaceful environments where people are accepted and respected and where learning is the main focus” (Schauffele, 2007). Research has shown that a positive learning environments maximizes the learning of every student, help children become full participating citizens of society, and help build a sense of community. It is important that this vision is shared among all stakeholders: families, staff, and students. ”Schools acting in partnership with their communities, can create and maintain these type of environments” (Safe and Healthy Schools, 2000). This week’s #PTchat is focused on Creating a Positive Learning Environment in school and at home. Join us this Wednesday at 9pm EDT/6pm PST. The chat will focus on how all stakeholders in education can build upon shared principles in creating a positive learning environment.
Another area in which the school could be different, according to some parents, was to be more welcoming and more “family friendly.” Parents, too, wanted to be respected and treated as a valued person when they made contact with the school. They did not want to feel as if they were a nuisance and a bother but rather as someone who had something important to say. One parent told of a school secretary who became blatantly annoyed at her when she called to let them know that her daughter would be absent from school. Parents wanted to be able to come to the school any time, not just open house and parent-teacher conferences, they wanted to feel welcomed in the building. “As parents we need to be able to just walk in, you know and a teacher cannot tell us you can’t come. You know it’s an open thing. It’s up to you as a parent.” Another parent in the same group followed up by saying, “I want to be able to come in, not interrupt the class but you know to make sure that he’s doing ok, everything’s ok and I can really see how he’s doing. For him I just want the doors to still be open, you know, no matter what grade he’s in.”
Oftentimes, a family’s first impression of the school is the school secretary. The smile, greeting, resourcefulness, eye contact, tone, respect and focus on meeting the needs of the family member is immediately evident to most. During this week’s Parent-Teacher Chat, we’ll discuss the school secretary position, and share ideas on how to insure every first impression is a positive and lasting one in our schools.
The idea for this chat topic came from my own secretary at Knapp Elementary, Mrs. Maria Shaw. Since reading Beyond the Bakesaleduring a recent parent-teacher book chat, she’s been invested in doing everything she can engage families from her lens. She’s always gone the extra mile for all of us at Knapp, but now she has the research and practical examples on how to take our school office family engagement “game” to the next level.
Join us this Wednesday, March 13th at 9PM EDT / 6PM PST. New Twitterer Mrs. Shaw will be on the chat as @mnmshaw, but if you have a non-tweeting secretary, please direct he/she to #PTchat’s Tweetchat link at http://tweetchat.com/room/ptchat at the time of the chat to follow along. Of course, all archives of these chats can be found here.
Schools must constantly seek ways to improve the communication with ELL families and recognize how it parallels with the communication with non-ELL families. How are schools reaching out to their ELL families? Are traditional parental involvement approaches appropriate for ELL families?
ESL Advocate and author of several books including The Essential Guide for Educating Beginning English Learners will join us this Wednesday at 9pm EDT on #PTchat to discuss how schools can effectively engage ELL families using both traditional and non-traditional approaches to increase family engagement. Please join us!
This week’s chat hosted by Stuvoice.org Founder Zak Makamed.
The Student Voice movement strives to create an international network of empowered students by providing them with the tools they need to use their voice in policy discussions. While we are students working for students, the support of adult stakeholders has enabled us to take our movement above and beyond what we could have ever anticipated.
This chat will serve to unite the stakeholders, so that they can discuss with students ways to enhance and empower the student voice. It is time for the students not only have a voice, but also a seat at the table and we need you to help us make that happen.
Join us on Wednesday at 9pm EDT / 6pm PST by using and following the #PTchat hashtag. Meanwhile, stand with students by joining the Student Voice movement here.
Joe Mazza is co-leading an upcoming Ed Week Webinar on Connecting Parents and Schools Via Social Media Initiatives. Here’s the description:
Connecting Parents and Schools Via Social Media Initiatives
This event takes place on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 12 to 1 p.m. ET.
From using Skype to run parent-teacher conferences to live streaming PTA meetings, the variety of digital-outreach tactics employed by school leaders continues to grow. But socioeconomic disparities like access to technology and digital know-how are limiting participation. As a result, some districts are forging partnerships and providing resources to help parents become more digitally literate. Join this webinar, which will explore some promising practices being undertaken to engage parents digitally and address digital divides. Presenters:
Joseph Mazza, principal, Knapp Elementary School, North Penn, Pa.
Elisabeth Stock, chief executive officer and co-founder, Computers For Youth
This week on #PTchat (Wed., 2/20 9PM EDT) we’ll be working on our school websites and mobile app offerings.
Today, most schools have a website. Whether the website is useful to the specific family needs at the school is the real question. Does the site serve as simply an information storage bank or does it offer two-way communication and an opportunity to build a relationship with the school? How do you know? Have parents been part of the team creating the website? Has your school considered a mobile app for parents? For us, once we collected data identifying that 63% of our families were using a mobile device to access school communications, we ventured down the road to a mobile app.
Referring back to the 6 Types of Involvement (Epstein 2011), does your school website/mobile app offer online support for every “type” detailed below?
TYPE 1–PARENTING: Assist families with parenting and child-rearing skills, understanding child and adolescent development, and setting home conditions that support children as students at each age and grade level. Assist schools in understanding families.
TYPE 2–COMMUNICATING: Communicate with families about school programs and student progress through effective school-to-home and home-to-school communications.
TYPE 3–VOLUNTEERING: Improve recruitment, training, work, and schedules to involve families as volunteers and audiences at the school or in other locations to support students and school programs.
TYPE 4–LEARNING AT HOME: Involve families with their children in learning activities at home, including homework and other curriculum-linked activities and decisions.
TYPE 5–DECISION MAKING: Include families as participants in school decisions, governance, and advocacy through PTA/PTO, school councils, committees, and other parent organizations.
TYPE 6–COLLABORATING WITH THE COMMUNITY: Coordinate resources and services for families, students, and the school with businesses, agencies, and other groups, and provide services to the community.
Join us this Wednesday, February 20th at 9PM EDT/6PST as together we’ll work to make our websites and mobile apps as comprehensive and two-way as possible.
Oftentimes parents don’t ask questions about supporting academic initiatives in our schools because we haven’t provided them enough information on the who, what, when, where, how. It’s up to teachers and leaders to go the extra mile to engage them and show them how to support our work in the classroom.
During this week’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat) on Twitter, we’ll create a working Google doc glossary of terms for parents. Earlier this week, Washington Post ed writer Emma Browm posted “What the heck is your teacher talking about? Here’s a glossary.” Terms discussed in her informative post include self-regulation, scaffolding, play-based learning, authentic assessment, DIBELS, positive behavior interventions and supports, inclusion, Kagan structures and differentiated instruction.
We’ll use Ms. Brown’s article as a starting point for our one hour discussion. Please join us as together we’ll create a working document applicable for your next school/classroom newsletter.
Join us Wednesday at 9PM EDT/6PST. If you not Twitter, you can still experience the conversation by visiting Tweetchat at the time of the chat.
On Wednesday, February 6, 2013, educators, students, teachers, parents, and leaders across the country will celebrate the innovation in teaching and learning that digital learning provides by pledging to try something innovative with technology to improve the learning experience. Nearly a half million students will participate as their teachers innovate and apply best practices in teaching and learning to provide a more engaging and personalized experience for students.
During this Wednesday’s 9PM EDT/6PM PST Parent-Teacher Chat #PTchat on Twitter, we’ll share out the best Digital Learning Day 2013 resources and ideas shared during the day in schools around the world. Join us to share what YOUR SCHOOL did to celebrate.
Digital learning is any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience. Much more than “online learning,” digital learning encompasses a wide spectrum of tools and practice, digital learning emphasizes high-quality instruction and provides access to challenging content, feedback through formative assessment, opportunities for learning anytime and anywhere, and individualized instruction to ensure all students reach their full potential to succeed in college and a career.
Characteristics of Digital Learning in Schools
Personal and flexible.
Led by teachers with significant support.
Collaborative and aligned to a common vision.
Flexible and high-quality resources.
Data driven, transparent, and ongoing.
Parents Can Help Build The Wave Of Innovation
You have probably seen more technology in use in your children’s schools lately. Maybe your child’s class has an interactive whiteboard. Maybe your teacher uses email. Maybe they utilize Blackboard or some other platform so that students can learn anytime, anywhere. Technology has changed literally everything in our world. These developments have created jobs, made the world more connected, and changed the way we interact. They also have the power to change the way our children learn. Thanks to technology, teachers are able to offer learning experiences that are more personalized, accelerated, engaging, and connected to the world students live in.
The nation is finally at a point where the technology is available to keep up with the demands of student needs. And technology is getting more and more affordable every day. In fact, some schools are saving money by using more technology. But there is so much more that can be done, which is why the Alliance for Excellent Education hosts Digital Learning Day.
Literacy is defined as the ability to read for knowledge and interest, write coherently, and think critically about the written word. The importance of good reading and writing skills will never disappear, and they cannot be achieved at school alone.
This week on #ptchat we’ll share ideas on how can we encourage kids to take the time to read beyond what’s required; for their own personal satisfaction, outside of school assignments, amidst busy schedules and technology distractions? What are some ways to encourage deeper thought so students can make the connection between what they’ve read and their experiences (both in the past and future)?
Joining us for the chat are two great literacy minds: Aliscia Lee (@AlisciaLee), Title 1 Reading Specialist at Knapp Elementary in Lansdale PA; and Penny Kittle (@PennyKittle), author, English teacher and literacy coach at Kennett High School in Conway, NH and in the summer at University of New Hampshire Literacy Institutes in Durham, NH.
Thanks to moderator Gwen Pescatore for facilitating this week’s #ptchat!