Boy Oh Boy, Christmas Has Come Early For Teachers With The New StoryCorps Mobile App!

storycorps

Crossposted at my other blog

Anyone who’s every listened to NPR is probably familiar with StoryCorps, and I’ve published several posts sharing their resources.

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.

I’m definitely adding it to The Best Student Projects That Need Family Engagement — Contribute Your Lessons!

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“High School History Teacher Named National Family Teacher of the Year”

Here’s an excerpt from a National Center For Families Learning press release. You can read more here.

A Washington, D.C., high school teacher who is an expert at engaging students’ families in their children’s education was named today as the 2015 Toyota Family Teacher of the Year. Kristen Whitaker – who teaches history and government at Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC), a Washington, D.C.-based school of 100 percent minority and 90 percent low-income students – was surprised with the award this morning during what was billed as a routine assembly at her school. She was joined by more than 400 attendees, including teachers, students, local and national education and civic leaders, representatives of the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) who presented Whitaker with a $20,000 grant that she will use to fund a family summer camp program for low-income minority students and their families. She is the first high school teacher to win this annual award.

Whitaker is the catalyst behind more than 200 home visits made by CHEC faculty since the start of the current school year. Home visitation builds a meaningful relationship with a student and their family, and is a particularly successful strategy for connecting with families from cultural minority groups. She has trained teachers at CHEC and other schools to conduct successful home visits and regularly hosts parents at student portfolio presentations. She also leads CHEC’s offering of an after-school program in which students and parents work together on collaborative media projects about items in the news

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March 3rd Webinar On “Parent Universities”

The Harvard Family Research Project is sponsoring a free Webinar on March 3rd, 1:00 PM (EST) on parent universities.

Here’s how they describe it:

Parent universities are committed to building parent capacity to support their child’s school success. To do so effectively, parent universities must continually respond and adapt to the changing and expressed needs of families. Join us on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (EST), to learn about some new resources and ideas that can help spark innovative thinking and planning for those involved in parent universities.

You might also be interested in My Best Posts On Parent “Academies” & “Universities,” where I share my concerns about how these kinds of parent universities are typically run in schools, and also share my praise for schools (including ours) which do them, in my opinion, the right way.

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Cross-Post: “Here Are Text Messages We’re Sending Home To ELL Students & Parents – Share Your Ideas”

I also published this post at my Websites of the Day blog.

I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers.

Alma Avalos, the extraordinary bilingual aide who works with me, and I are going to start intensively using Remind to send weekly text messages to our students and their parents (of course, only if parents agree).

This idea builds on the studies I’ve previously posted about that have shown these kinds of messages to parents have resulted in positive learning outcomes for their children.

I’m compiling a list of the kinds of texts, which will be sent in Spanish (thanks to Alma — my Spanish is not up to the task), that would be most beneficial to English Language Learners.

Here’s a list of what I’ve come up with so far (and I’ve only spent a few minute on it), and I’m hopeful that readers will contribute a lot more. I’ll then compile it into a master list and share:

For Students:

Please remember to use Duolingo at least one-half hour each night.

Do you have a book in English to read? If so, please read it. If not, please get one from class.

Please share with your parents what you learned in school today

For Parents:

Please remember to ask your child to tell them the English words they learned today.

Please remind your child to use the website called Duolingo for at least one-half hour each night.

Please encourage your child to read books in English.

Please encourage your child to watch movies in English with subtitles in English to help them learn.

You might want to ask your child to label different things around the house with the English word for those objects.

Consider asking your students to read to you in English.

We have school staff that speak several languages. Don’t hesitate to call the school if you have questions or concerns.

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Webinar On Parent Engagement This Wednesday

Joe Mazza, a very well-respected national leader on parent engagement, is leading a free Webinar on Engaging Families Using High & Low Tech Strategies this Wednesday.

You couldn’t find a person with greater knowledge about the topic and energy to impart it!

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“A Guide to Student-Led Conferences”

Edudemic has published a useful piece titled A Guide to Student-Led Conferences.

Here’s how it begins:

Parent-teacher conferences provide parents with updates on their child’s progress and opportunities to see their student’s work. They also open communication between school and home. However, students often are passive, or even absent, during traditional parent-teacher conferences. One way to fix this is to put students at the helm, as they are the ones who are responsible for their work and progress.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Parent/Teacher Conferences.

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“Be A Learning Hero” Has Tons Of Parent Resources, Including Common Core Support

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.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Talking To Parents About The Common Core Standards.

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Parent Trigger Update

Here are a couple of interesting new developments on the “parent trigger”:

Ohio’s Parent-Trigger Law Has No Takers So Far is from Education Week. I’ve previously written about what was happening in Ohio at Parent Trigger Ready To Bring Chaos To Ohio Schools.

Parent-Trigger Law Proponent Ben Austin Resigns From Group He Founded is also from Ed Week.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning Why The Parent Trigger Isn’t Good For Parents, Kids Or Schools.

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“LA groups model of community engagement”

LA groups model of community engagement is a good article from Ed Source about two groups in Los Angeles who appear to be doing some good parent engagement (and student engagement) organizing. I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard of either of them before.

Here’s an excerpt:

What sets InnerCity Struggle and Community Coalition, a similar organization in South Los Angeles, apart is that they organize both parents and youth and focus on ongoing education issues, said Peter Rivera, senior education program officer for the California Community Foundation in Los Angeles.

“They are not one-cause oriented,” he said. “They have a model of engagement you typically don’t see in districts.”

Unlike other groups that push for change, the two organizations have “street credibility that has been developed and cultivated over time,” said Steve Zimmer, an L.A. Unified school board member.

“They have deep respect for the young people they work with,” Zimmer added. “That’s why they’ve been effective. When I choose to embrace a policy they bring to me, I know it’s got some real strong roots. When I choose to challenge a policy in any way, I don’t do it lightly.”

It’s definitely worth reading the entire article.

I’m going to talk with people in Los Angeles to find out more about them. Unless I hear anything negative, I’ll be adding this info to The Best Examples Of Parent Engagement Through Community Organizing.

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“Toyota Family Teacher of the Year Award Call for Nominations”

Here’s an excerpt from their press announcement:

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), together with long-time partner Toyota, seeks out the nation’s most exemplary teachers that engage families in education.

The Toyota Family Teacher of the Year Award celebrates teachers who are dedicated to including more than one generation in the educational process. An exemplary educator’s school or program will receive a $20,000 prize to further efforts to engage families in learning together and join an elite group of educators across the country that have been recognized as such for nearly two decades.

Every nominee will represent success stories of bringing families into the learning process, and NCFL and Toyota will recognize a second prize winner with a $2,500 prize.

You can’t nominate yourself. Nominations can be made online here.

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