The Best Education Blogs For Parents

10 Amazing Education Blogs for Parents is a helpful post from Ed Tech Review that I learned about from Starr Sackstein.

I think they missed a few important ones, though, so I decided to make my own list. Let me know if you think I’m missing some:

Parent Cortical Mass

Raising Modern Learners

Joe Mazza’s blog, eFace Today

Our School: Parents As Partners

ParentNet Unplugged from Parent Involvement Matters

K-12 Parents and the Public is from Education Week.

Parents Across America

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

“Poll: Parents don’t support many education policy changes” (Plus, Links To Previous Polls)

Updated: Here are two more articles about the poll:

What parents really think about school reform is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

AFT: Current Ed. Policies Don’t Work, Are Unpopular With Parents is from Education Week.

Poll: Parents don’t support many education policy changes is the headline of a Washington Post article . Here are the first two paragraphs:

Most parents with children in public schools do not support recent changes in education policy, from closing low-performing schools to shifting public dollars to charter schools to private school vouchers, according to a new poll to be released Monday by the American Federation of Teachers.

The poll, conducted by Democratic polling firm Hart Research Associates, surveyed 1,000 parents this month and found that most would rather see their neighborhood schools strengthened and given more resources than have options to enroll their children elsewhere.

Some might question it impartiality because of the AFT’s involvement, but the results are reflective of past polls done by other groups.

Here’s another summary of the same poll: What Parents Want For Education Policy

I’m turning this post into something of a “The Best…” list, and here are links to posts about previous polls:

The Best Posts/Articles On This Year’s Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup Education Poll — 2012

Gallup Poll On Education Issues Just Released 2011

Gallup Poll On Education Issues Released 2010

“Public Attitudes Toward The Public Schools” 2009

U.S. “Survey finds parent-teacher relationships strong–Teachers given grade of “A””

“Parents Agree – Better Assessments, Less High-Stakes Testing”

On the heels of the poll mentioned at the beginning of this post, another came out contradicting it. However, here are two posts analyzing this new polls lack of credibility:

Do Parents Support High-Stakes Testing? is a great post by Diane Ravitch responding to a new poll supposedly finding that parents support these tests.

Associated Press Propaganda: What the AP Survey Really Shows is from Accomplished California Teachers, and links to an exhaustive analysis.

The Best Resources To Help Engage Parents Of Children With Special Needs – Help Me Find More

I’m beginning this list with a few resources, but hope that readers will contribute a lot more.

You can see all my parent-engagement related “The Best…” lists here.

Here is a very beginning list of The Best Resources To Help Engage Parents Of Children With Special Needs:

New law aids parents of special needs children in dealing with school districts is an article in the Tampa Bay Times about a new state law in Florida, but it offers some perspectives helpful for parents (and teachers) of special needs children everywhere.

Special Education Toolkit: Resources is from the National PTA and it has a lot of…resources related to special education.

Where to Turn When the School Wants to Have Your Child ‘Tested’ is a useful New York Times post by Jessica Lahey.

Please suggest more resources!

This Blog Is Now Four Years Old — Here Are Its Most Popular Posts During That Time

I began this blog four years ago, shortly after my book, Building Parents In Schools, was published. I thought it would be interesting, and perhaps helpful, to share its most popular posts during that time.

You might also be interested in:

My Most Popular Parent Engagement Posts Of The Year — 2012

My Most Popular Parent Engagement Posts Of The Year — 2010

Here are my most popular parent engagement posts over the past four years:

1. The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers

2. Good Middle School Journal Article On Parent Involvement

3. Another Reason Why We Need To Be Careful How We Speak To Parents About Their Children

4. Jeez, What Was Ron Clark Thinking?

5. The Worst Parent Engagement Ideas

6. The Best Resources On Parent/Teacher Conferences

7. The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits

8. The Best Ideas On How Parents Can Help Their Kids Succeed Academically

9. “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement”

10. A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement

11. Teachers Have Got To Stop Blaming Parents

12. What A Terrible Video About Parents & Schools With A Terrible Message

13. The Power Of A Positive Phone Call Home

14. Some Of These “Parent Academies” Just Don’t Get It….

15. Chart: Useful Summary Of The Differences Between Parent Involvement & Parent Engagement

The Best Resources On Pre-School Parent Engagement

I have many “Best” lists on multiple aspects of parent engagement, but thought with all the recent talk about expanding early education, a list on pre-school parent engagement would be useful.

You can see all my parent engagement “Best” lists here.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources On Pre-School Parent Engagement:

Preschools Aim to Better Equip Low-Income Parents is a brand new article at Education Week.

Head Start has a series of downloadable flyers in their Importance of Home Language Series that are in English and Spanish. They’re useful for educators and for parents.

Here’s an article about Head Start’s home visiting program, Head Start casts parents in educator’s role, and it’s worth a read….

Two new studies were just released examining Head Start. They were mixed in some areas, but positive about its effect on parent engagement.

Here’s an excerpt from a summary:

One of the studies, by the nonprofit Mathematica Policy Research, found that parents of children enrolled in Head Start became more engaged in teaching their children at home: They increased (slightly) the frequency that they told their children stories, played games, did arts and crafts and went to the library. The report also found that children in Head Start made significant academic progress during the year on skills like identifying numbers and shapes.

The second of the studies, known as the Head Start Impact Study, is the latest in a series of reports that has looked at the academic, social-emotional and health outcomes for Head Start students over time. Previously, the study had found that gains made in preschool for children enrolled in Head Start tapered off in first grade. The latest report shows that nearly all the health benefits and academic and social emotional gains were gone by third grade. There were also some negative outcomes, including a greater likelihood of being held back.

But parenting skills continued to be better for Head Start families, and in some cases social skills and reading ability were somewhat higher for Head Start children in third grade.

“One of the strengths of the Head Start program is the parent involvement and parent engagement,” said Linda Smith, ACF deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development, in a phone interview. “And it is borne out in the study.”

The practice of early childhood home visits by non-school staff seems to be growing. Education Week posted a useful article on the practice, Home Visits Help New Families; Support School Readiness.

Here’s how it begins:

Kindergartners across the country are kicking off their official schooling careers over the next several weeks (some are already underway), but up to 45 percent of them won’t be “ready to learn,” under a definition that includes certain cognitive skills, but also physical and mental health, emotional well-being, and the ability to relate to others.

Most of the children who fall short of that definition of school readiness come from low-income communities in households often headed by a single mother.

That sobering reminder about the gaps that exist even as children are just embarking on their schooling comes from the Pew Center on the States and its campaign for state governments to invest more resources into voluntary home visiting programs for expectant and new families. There are scores of home visiting programs designed to address a slew of health, social, and educational challenges that manifest in the earliest stages of a child’s life (even in utero). These programs pair professionals such as nurses or social workers with parents who volunteer to receive support and information about good parenting that can start as early as pregnancy and reach into a child’s fifth year of life.

Parent Involvement One of the Most Enduring Benefits of the Head Start Program is the headline of a post that begins:

Recent research released by Alexander Gelber and Adam Isen at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania suggests that increased parent involvement in a child’s life is one of the most enduring benefits of the Head Start Program.

The article also contains a link to what seems to be a relatively useful guide for parent involvement in Head Start programs.

Study: Head Start Programs May Increase Parents’ Involvement is a short blog post at Education Week about a recent….study.

Parents, teachers tout classroom councils to boost engagement is an article about how a Chicago Head Start center is engaging parents. The exact model is probably not practical in many or most classrooms, but it’s just another way of looking at parents as “co-educators.”

The National Center On Parent, Family and Community Engagement is connected to Head Start. Here is how the website describes its purpose:

The National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement will identify, develop and disseminate evidence-based best practices associated with the development of young children and the strengthening of families and communities. The Center will create culturally and linguistically relevant training and tools for implementing comprehensive, systemic, and integrated approaches to parent, family and community engagement in Head Start and Early Head Start.

It’s filled with useful resources, including multimedia.

New study shows parent involvement leads to better classroom attention is the title of an MSNBC article about research on pre-schoolers and their families.

Here’s an excerpt:

A new study by cognitive neuroscientist Helen Neville from the University of Oregon, Eugene indicates that parental involvement may be a large factor in preschoolers ability to retain attention in the classroom. The study also showed that a brief training program on attention aimed at 3- to 5-year-olds and their families could help boost brain activity and narrow the academic achievement gap between low- and high-income students.

HIPPY stands for Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, and you can read more about its home visiting program here.

Head Start recently published quite a compilation of recent research related to parent involvement and pre-school youth.

is from The Cultural Orientation Resource Center:

The HHS Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Head Start (OHS) has a number of resources that support refugee families. The handbook, Raising Young Children in a New Country: Supporting Early Learning and Healthy Development, focuses on refugee families and the parenting of children from the prenatal period through age 5. Throughout handbook are easy-to-follow illustrations that provide families with information about healthy development, early learning and school readiness, and family engagement in early care. An adaptation of the Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS) publication, Raising Children in a New Country: An Illustrated Handbook, handbook was authored by BRYCS in collaboration with the National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness (NCCLR). Spanish and Arabic translations are expected to be completed during September 2013.

NHSA Dialog, which is published by the National Head Start Association and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, have recently published an issue entirely devoted to Parent Involvement and Engagement In Head Start.

Bridging Worlds: Family Engagement in the Transition to Kindergarten is a useful “case study” from The Harvard Family Research Project.

The Best Multilingual Resources For Parents

Online and hard-copy resources can be useful aids in helping to engage parents, though I’d suggest that they be used by educators as openings to initiate genuine conversations — not as ends in themselves.

I thought readers might find a collection of what I think are decent multilingual resources that could be used in this context.

This post is a supplement to two other “The Best…” lists:

The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers

The Best Ideas On How Parents Can Help Their Kids Succeed Academically

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

Here are my choices for The Best Multilingual Resources For Parents:

“But What If I Don’t Know English?” is another great resource from Colorin Colorado, and it’s available in Spanish and and in English. It shares ideas on how parents who don’t speak English can still help their children develop literacy skills.

Ed Week’s Learning The Language blog posted information and links to a number of resources in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali for parents with children who might have learning disabilities.

Growing Readers offers a sizable collection of bilingual (English/Spanish) materials offering advice to parents on how to…grow young readers. You can also sign-up to received a new article free by email every month.

Edutopia has just announced they’ve translated two useful parent resources into Spanish: A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning and Mobile Devices for Learning: What You Need to Know.

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure exactly how useful they are, but it’s always nice to have some decent materials in a language other than English for parents.

Use it at your own risk, though….

Importance of Home Language Series

The Importance of Home Language Series was developed by Head Start for adults living and working with dual language learners. The series of handouts emphasizes the benefits of being bilingual, the importance of maintaining home language, and strategies for becoming fully bilingual. One of the handouts, Language at Home and in the Community, offers eight practices families can do every day at home to support language development. The series is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, Haitian Creole, and Russian.

The Ultimate Guide to ELL or ESL in Spanish.

Let me know if you have other suggestions…..

The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools

Check out my Ed Week column, Community Schools ‘Transform the Lives of Children & Families’

I’ve published many posts on Community Schools, which are schools that make a point of working with the local community and resources and facilities. I’m a big supporter of them. However, as I’ve written in some of my posts, I think many miss opportunities to be more successful by not engaging parents in the process of developing them.

Often, schools seem to only look at parents as “clients” to be served, and not as “partners” and “co-creators.”

Community schools are great. I just wonder how much better they could be be if parents were more participants in making decisions about them and not just viewed as a people needing help.

You can see all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools:

Here’s an excerpt from a study that found the same problem related to lack of parent engagement that I’ve mentioned earlier:

This study investigated the effectiveness of a community school’s strategy in influencing the motivators of parental involvement. Through a mixed-method, case-study investigation of a long-established community school in New York City, the study found inconclusive evidence that community school operations positively influenced the motivations of parents to involve themselves in their child’s education. In particular, the site found a low level of parent participation, lack of efficacious mastery experiences and incidents of social persuasion, lack of a sense of collective leadership among parents and staff, and a low level of relational trust between parents and the school organization. Nevertheless, enough positive evidence was collected to suggest that community school operations remain promising strategies capable of positively influencing parents to become more involved in their children’s education. The lack of significant increases in parent motivation may be due to the lack of fidelity to which the site implemented its own community school model, the difficulties of sustaining reform over several decades in an impoverished urban setting, and the priorities of the New York City Department of Education.

School’s a Community Effort in Indiana District is another excellent article by Mary Ann Zehr at Education Week. I exchanged emails with  about that issue of parent engagement, and she graciously gave me permission to publish it here:

First, here was my question to her:

I really liked your community schools story , and am a big advocate of them. However, one of the missed opportunities I have seen with many is that the school staff often decide what they should offer and how, with very little input from parents themselves. I’m going to point readers of my parents blog to your story, but I was wondering if you had any sense of if parents were and are involved in the decision to be more of a community school and how the programs are run?

Here is her response:

I don’t feel qualified to say how much input parents are giving into how the community schools should be run because that wasn’t the focus of my reporting. At Lincoln School, I attended a morning “coffee” hosted by the school for parents. Several parents and grandparents told me they regularly attend such events. They expressed appreciation for input they’d received about nutrition through that venue. At the “coffee”, several community people gave presentations for programs the attendees can get involved in, such as a program to support grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. The meeting was facilitated by a parent coordinator employed by Lincoln School; she seemed to have a good relationship with the parents. The parent coordinator has used the parents’ ideas for speakers and topics at the meetings. I didn’t ask how parents were involved in the various structures, such as the School Community Council, that are in charge of the school-community connections.

Here are two useful articles on community schools:

One is titled Community Schools: Reform’s Lesser-Known Frontier and appeared in Education Week.

Oakland Schools Struggle, but Emeryville May Point a Way Up is the headline of a New York Times article  about an effort to connect schools with social service agencies.

“The Roles Of Parent & Community Engagement In Student Success: Work Works In Illinois” is a new report published by advocates of Community Schools. Even though it’s focused on Illinois, a lot of the info can be applied anywhere.

Lightening the Load: A Look at Four Ways that Community Schools Can Support Effective Teaching is a new report from The Center For American Progress.

Oregon Community Schools Model Shows Staying Power is an article from Education Week.

Community School Model Seen as Valuable to Rural Areas is an interesting article over at Education Week.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Education Secretary Duncan spoke at a conference  designed to support the creation of more “community schools” in the United States. A report on community schools was released at the conference.

Partnerships for Learning: Community Support for Youth Success is a new report from The Harvard Family Research Project.

Here’s how they describe it:

There is strong evidence that, when schools partner with families and community-based organizations, these partnerships for learning improve children’s development and school success. They provide a seamless web of supports designed to ensure positive learning experiences for children and youth.

In this paper, we draw on the experiences of national organizations and a set of community schools that have built these learning partnerships, and examine seven key elements that we find to be essential in building them. Our paper serves as a guide to school districts and their partners as they consider whether and how to implement a partnerships for learning model. It also informs those who have already established these partnerships and wish to reflect on how to maximize partnership—and student—success.

School leaders say Oakland’s community school movement will continue, even without Tony Smith is a good article from Ed Source about ambitious plans for community schools in Oakland.

“One School, One Year: A Look Inside Oyler School” is a special NPR Markeplace report on a community school in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Linking home and classroom, Oakland bets on community schools is a fairly in-depth report on…community schools in Oakland, California, and is published by the Hechinger Report.

Community Schools: A Model for the Middle Grades is an article in Education Week that’s worth a look.

Candidates See Cincinnati as Model for New York Schools is the headline of an article in The New York Times.

Here’s an excerpt:

Despite its relatively small size, Cincinnati, with roughly 30,000 students, has become a lodestar for big-city school systems across the country. Superintendents and union leaders looking for an alternative to a high-stakes, data-driven movement in education have showered the community schools model with praise, noting that it has expanded access to health care and social services, tackling problems thought to be causes of academic failure.

Community Schools: A Worthwhile Investment provides a very good overview of community schools. It appears in Education Week.

Here’s an excerpt:

Research has made it clear that instructional improvements can be successful only when they are combined with family and community engagement and genuine efforts to improve the school’s climate for learning—in other words, when resources are organized for student success by creating community schools. Now there is growing proof that not only does this reform strategy boost outcomes for children, but that it also provides a significant social return on investment.

Why community schools are a no-brainer is a useful post over at Valerie Strauss’ Washington Post blog.

Community schools gaining traction under state’s new funding formula is an article in Ed Source about the growth of community schools in California. It’s a pretty thorough article, and includes a number of useful links.

Research Review Gives Thumbs Up to Community Schools Approach the headline of a post at Education Week.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the wake of newly elected New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge to open 100 community schools, a report released Tuesday finds promise in this type of educational intervention. The study, supported in part with a grant from an organization founded by de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, concludes that research and theory support the concept of community schools that seek to boost academic performance by offering mentoring, counseling, healthcare, and other wraparound services that extend well beyond the classroom.

The report itself, unfortunately, looks very little — if at all — at the importance of parents being involved in developing plans on how community schools can be developed. Of course, that’s a shortcoming of most, though not all, community school programs.

Nonprofit and for-profit partners help Cincinnati transform its failing schools is from Ed Source, and provides an excellent overview of the efforts to create community schools in that city.

Community Schools Will Succeed If Parents Are Engaged is the headline of an article written by a parent leader discussing the planned opening of 100 community schools in New York City.

He echoes the concerns I’ve expressed often times about the lack of parent engagement in many community schools.

Here’s an excerpt (the author begins by talking about the community school his children now attend):

The key to the success of this school, which should be applied to each of the mayor’s 100 community schools, is strong parent engagement from the beginning in both design and evaluation. Unlike at PS 73, parents at New Settlement are treated as full partners. The doors are open, there is mutual trust among teachers, administrators, and parents, and constant outreach is made to parents to get us involved.

In the mayor’s initiative, each school will receive a full-time resource coordinator. They will recruit partnerships and resources for the school, working with the principal and school community to create a well-designed and effective community school. I strongly believe that this is a job for people with passion—for individuals who truly believe transforming education is possible.

The engagement of parents must be a large part of measuring the success of these resource coordinators. They must meet parents where they are, and reach out especially to parents who aren’t involved in the school through home visits, phone calls, community meetings, whatever it takes. They should listen to parents’ ideas, their anxieties and their vision. Parents should be offered clear pathways to become leaders in the school and the community.

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill. have announced they are introducing a Congressional bill that would generate funds to support the development of community schools.

More Schools Open Their Doors to the Whole Community is a Wall Street Journal article about…community schools.

Here’s an excerpt:

WYOMING, Mich.—On a recent weekday here, a steady stream of people dropped by one central location for food stamps, family counseling and job ideas—their local school.

While instruction has ended for the summer, these classrooms remain open as part of a wider trend around the country of “community schools,” where public and private groups bring services closer to students and residents year round and, in some cases, help boost student performance.

With backing at local, state and federal levels, the decades-old idea for improving schools and neighborhoods is gaining ground despite some funding uncertainties and doubts about community schools’ success.

The largest coordinator of such programs, Communities in Schools, saw a 6% increase in its reach in the 2012-13 school year, covering schools with a total of more than 1.3 million students in 26 states.

You can read more about it at:

Bipartisan House Bill Would Boost Community Schools at Ed Week

How to Get Kids to Class: To Keep Poor Kids in School, Provide Social Services is the headline of an op-ed in The New York Times by the president of Communities in Schools.

Here’s the last paragraph:

Putting social workers in schools is a low-cost way of avoiding bigger problems down the road, analogous to having a social worker in a hospital emergency room. It’s a common-sense solution that will still require a measure of political courage, something that all too often has itself been chronically absent.

“Community Engagement: The Secret Ingredient”

New York City Mayor Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a huge increase in the number of Community Schools in the city.

You can read about his announcement in these two articles:

De Blasio Unveils New Plans for Troubled Schools in New York

Read Mayor Bill de Blasio’s speech outlining a $150M plan for school improvement is from Chalkbeat.

Community Schools Advocates Push for ‘Whole Child’ Focus in ESEA Update is a post from Education Week.

Here’s how it begins:

The Coalition for Community Schools has joined the ranks of stakeholders offering members of Congress their laundry list of dos and don’ts for the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law.

On Monday morning, the coalition sent a letter to Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., the chairman and ranking member of the Senate education committee, to emphasize the important role school-community partnerships should play in the overhaul of the federal education law.

AFT teacher brings community schools message to Congress is a post at the American Federation of Teachers site.

Here’s how it begins:

Stressing that the majority of kids in American public schools now live in poverty, a Baltimore teacher and AFT member urged Congress on Feb. 5 to battle that challenge through a redesigned Elementary and Secondary Education Act—one that helps schools and students overcome poverty’s deepest obstacles by supporting proven strategies like community schools.

The Renewal-School Gamble is from The Atlantic.

Community Schools: What We Know and What We Need to Know

Becoming a Community School: A Study of Oakland Unified School District Community School Implementation, 2015-2016 is a report from Stanford.

‘Community Schools’ See Revival in Time of Heightened Need is from US News.

Will California’s $4.1-billion bet on ‘community schools’ transform K-12 education? is from The L.A. Times.

Community schools promote equity: We need more of them is from The Hechinger Report.

Community Schools and COVID-19 Recovery is from The Learning Policy Institute.

From Wraparound Services to Co-Leadership is from the AFT.

A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Using Technology To Help Engage Parents

I thought topic would a useful post for readers, and hope you’ll suggest other resources.

You can also see all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here.

Here are my choices for A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Using Technology To Help Engage Parents:

Tech May Have A Role, But Is Not Cure-All, For Parent Engagement is a post I wrote on the topic, and Myrdin Thompson wrote a response titled Did the Tech fail or was there a failure to connect to the Tech?

The Impact of Technology on Parental Involvement: Perceptions of teachers and guidance counselors regarding the impact of a parent portal component of a student information system on parental involvement at the high school level is a very long title for a potentially useful report.

‘Public Square’ Website Solicits Parents’ Insights is another good post from Michele Molnar over at Education Week. She reports on how a Florida school district is using social media in an ambitious effort to discuss and plan ways to increase parent involvement, and includes several good links.

Data Through Parent Portals: An Exploration of Parental Motivation, Data Use, and the Promise of Prolonged Parent Involvement is from The Harvard Family Research Project.

Here are a post on schools providing computers and home internet access to families:Home Computer Project Expansion & Assessment Results

Could Providence’s Word Counting Project Be A “Boondoggle” As Well As Being Creepy?

I’m A Bit Wary Of Harvard’s Plan For Online Parent Surveys

“Flipping” classroom instruction is pretty popular these days, and Peter DeWitt has two posts over at Education Week suggesting ways to apply the concept to parent communication:

Flipping Parent Communication?

Take a Risk…Flip Your Parent Communication!

I thought readers might find it useful if I a handful of tech tools that might be helpful with teacher/parent communication.

Remind 101 is described by teacher Lisa Mims as “a safe way for teachers to text message students and parents without giving out your phone number or requiring theirs!” You can read more about it at her blog post.

Over at my other blog, I’ve posted a list of easy ways anyone can create their own website, including teachers and students.

However, there are also a few web tools out there specifically designed for creating class websites. I haven’t tried any of them, but they might be worth a look:

Weebly For Educators

Let me know what tech tools I’m missing!

Ideas to Increase Parent Communication in Schools is a post by principal Eric Sheninger that includes a number of useful ideas.

How Should Schools and Parents Be Involved in Kids’ Online Lives? is a very useful post from MindShift that provides advice to parents on how to handle online access with their kids.

It doesn’t quite fit in list, but I’m adding it, anyway.

Two Easy Tools Teachers Can Use to Coordinate Parent Volunteers is a useful post by Richard Byrne.

Parents’ Top 12 Back-to-School Tech Questions is a useful article from Common Sense Media.

It answers to these questions:

What’s the right age for my kid to bring a cell phone to school?
What are the rules about using cell phones at school?
Should students and teachers be friends on Facebook?
Back-to-school shopping has gotten so commercial. How do I avoid ad overload?
Should I let my child bring an iPod (or other music device) to school?
Should I upgrade my kid’s iPod Touch — even though it works fine?
Does reading on the iPad or Kindle count toward my kids’ daily reading minutes, or would it just be considered screen time?
How do I make sure my kids are ready for learning when school starts?
What should students know about sending email to a teacher?
Should schools teach responsible online behavior?
What should I know about my school’s 1:1 device program?
Are there parental controls for schools’ 1:1 device programs?
How can I find the best educational programs to use at home with my kids?

How social media helps bridge the gap between home and school is an article in The Guardian.

Here’s an excerpt:

But there’s no point in shying away from changes, says Stewart. “The way that we communicate has changed dramatically over the past five to 10 years: why shouldn’t the way we communicate with parents reflect ?”

“Parent engagement is paramount,” adds Thomas. “The more parents are involved in children’s learning, the more children want to do better and the harder they work.”

Parental Involvement: A Neglected Resource is an ASCD post some ways to develop parent involvement with technology. I’ve got to say that I’ve got some questions about how effective the tools and strategy described there really are but, nevertheless, I’ll add it to list. I’ll let readers make the call.

Ways To Use Technology To Engage With Parents is a useful short article at EdTechReview.

Parents Look to Teachers for Help Using Educational Media at Home is a useful article from The National Writing Project.

It different ways schools are providing assistance to parents in helping them guide their child’s use of online sites.

The Flip Side of Parent Communication is a blog post from ASCD In Service that discusses taking the popular ideas of flipping classrooms and applying to parent communication:

DeWitt started documenting school events and introduced parents to the concept of flipped communication. Some of the videos he shared recapped the week’s activities (e.g., 11-26-13 and 11-18-13) and others chronicled bigger occasions such as Fire Prevention Day, which brought together fire departments from two communities (Poestenkill welcomed 100 new students when a nearby school closed, making the collaboration especially significant).

Bill Ferriter sent a tweet out about a site called Sign-Up Genius. It looks like a very easy tool to use to have volunteers sign-up for just about anything, including volunteering at school.

Talking to parents in 140 characters: how are schools using social media? is a useful article in the British newspaper, The Guardian.

Parent Communication Toolbox is a very useful post from Edutopia, written by Gwen Pescatore.

Using Scannable Technology to Reach Parents Year Round is from Edutopia.

Richard Byrne writes about Class Messenger from Scholastic.

Pinellas schools hope app engages parents is an article from a Florida newspaper about a large school district creating a smartphone app for students.

Here’s how it begins:

Pinellas County schools have launched a new smartphone application meant to encourage parents to play a more active role in their children’s education.

The “PCS Family Engagement Mobile App” has a link for every Pinellas school and gives parents information on academic standards, student scholarships and ways to get involved in their child’s education. Links in the app provide “How To” videos to help children be successful in school, parent workshops and support groups, information on upcoming events, ways to volunteer in the district and family engagement tips.

The free app, available for Apple and Android devices, allows users to message teachers and other school officials directly, sends users notifications and adds events to the phone’s calendar.

5 Ways to Engage Parents Using Google Drive is from Corkboard Connections.

Parent Communication: Easy and Convenient Tools that Keep Parents Informed is a useful blog post from teacher Rachel Lynette’s blog. She offers suggestions of how she uses tech to connect with parents and, most importantly, shares some concrete examples.

How using technology can keep parents in the loop is an article in eSchool News that shares several examples of how schools are using tech to connect with parents.

Homeroom lets teachers create private photo albums of classroom activities for their students’ parents.

You can read more about it at TechCrunch.

Connecting Parents With Common Core Through Remind & Twitter is a useful post at Education Week.

Here’s how it begins:

How often does this conversation happen for parents? “How was school today, what did you do?” We all know the response – “nothing, not sure, can’t remember, don’t know” etc.

At John Swett Elementary (@jseroadrunners), we’ve torn down the classroom walls and are connecting parents with school life and Common Core implementation on a daily, even hourly basis! Remind and Twitter have profoundly changed our communication flow from what’s happening in the classroom to directly connecting with parents, via their phone.

Is Facebook the New School Web Page? is an article appearing in Ed Tech Magazine.

Here’s its subtitle:

The popular social media site has revolutionized how some schools communicate with students and parents.

Edmodo launches new app aimed at increasing parental involvement is the headline of a piece in Education Dive.

Here’s how it begins:

Social learning network Edmodo this week announced the launch of an Edmodo for Parents app, allowing parents to track their child’s work and learn how they can help meet learning goals.

Five of the best apps that help teachers communicate with parents is a useful post from The Guardian.

Apps that connect teachers and parents can help overcome language barriers is from Education Dive.


My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2013 — So Far

Here are my choices for the best posts I’ve written on parent engagement so far in 2013 (by the way, you can find all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here):

“Embracing & Celebrating Diverse Families”

Interesting New Research On Parent Involvement

Daily Show Does Great Piece On Crazy Tennessee Idea

Hmmmmmm…..After 4 Years & $5 Million, Foundation Now Thinks Working With Teachers Is An “Emerging Strategy” For Parent Engagement

Very Important Article: “Building Parent-Teacher Unions”

Could Providence’s Word Counting Project Be A “Boondoggle” As Well As Being Creepy?

Chicago Mayor Remains Clueless On Parent Engagement

Chart: Useful Summary Of The Differences Between Parent Involvement & Parent Engagement

Hmmmmmm….PTA & Amazon Kindle Launch Partnership

What The Annual MetLife Survey Of The American Teacher Says About Parent Engagement

Exceptional Analysis Of Parent Trigger Laws

A Great Video On Teachers Making Home Visits

Here’s a GREAT Video On Parent Engagement

I’m A Bit Wary Of Harvard’s Plan For Online Parent Surveys

“The Dicey Parent-Teacher Duet”

Making Parents Pay A School Anytime Their Child Is Given Detention Is Not A Wise Parent Engagement Strategy

Excellent Overview Of Parent Engagement From Ontario


My Best Posts On Parent “Academies” & “Universities”

Parent “universities” or “academies” seem to be all the rage these days, with school districts organizing these trainings typically to help parents understand how the school works. I’ve written plenty of posts about these types of programs, and have been critical of many of them. They tend to fall on the parent “involvement” side of things instead of the “engagement” side. Parents usually don’t participate in determining their content, and they don’t tend to cover any of the other important issues affecting families — it’s just the schools’ agenda.

I was reading an article from Sonoma, California, about a program that appears to get — at least, a little bit — of how to run one of these programs in the right way:

The program (Parent University in English) brings parents together for monthly discussions of their choosing, from positive discipline and couples communications to bullying and the value of video games.

That got me thinking that it might be useful to bring together a collection of my posts on the topic, including ones describing how we do it at our school.

Here are My Best Posts On Parent “Academies” & “Universities”:

Some Of These “Parent Academies” Just Don’t Get It….

Press Conference On Parent Engagement

Parent “Academies”

New Haven Seems To Do “Parent University” Right….

“Parent University 101: Launching a Successful Event”

Philadelphia “Parent University”

Video On Our School’s Teacher Visiting Program & Parent University

Parent University Program Begins In Birmingham

Boston Schools Begin Parent Program

“In Philadelphia, Reaching Kids by Teaching Parents”

Seems Like This Canadian “Parent Academy” Has Some Good Ideas

Not Your Typical “Parent University”

The “California Educator” Writes About Parent Universities

Parent University Network Formed

You can see all my previous “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here.

The Best Videos On Parent Engagement

I’ve posted a number of videos related to parent engagement over the years, and I thought that it would be useful to collect the best ones in one post.

You can find links to all my parent engagement “Best” lists here.

Here are my choices for The Best Videos On Parent Engagement:

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform has produced the film “Parent Power” and is offering a copy of it, along with a “viewers guide” for free, though they are charging $10 for shipping and handling. You can also view it online for free.

You can order it here.

Here’s how they describe it:

Through the voices of parents, this film chronicles fifteen years of effective parent organizing for education reform in New York City – organizing that has stopped budget cuts, increased school funding, and led to the adoption of a citywide lead teacher program. The goal of Parent Power is to provide an example of successful education organizing to urban-based community groups looking for organizational inspiration and practical guidance in their own efforts to support, demand, and sustain equitable reforms in their own public schools. A Viewer’s Guide, designed to enhance community groups’ use of the film in their own education organizing efforts, accompanies the film. One free copy is available for an individual or organization Please note: All orders wil be charged $10 shipping and handling.

In addition to watching it online for free (it’s embedded below), you can download the viewers guide for free, too.

Here’s a video about a home visit “blitz” done by teachers in Henderson, Kentucky.

Here’s a video Mai Xi Lee, one of our school’s Vice-Principals, made about our school’s home visiting project and Parent University. For what it’s worth, that’s me speaking after the text introduction….

The movie “Dangerous Minds” is engaging, but it’s one in a long line of nauseatingly paternalistic hero teacher films out there. However, it does have a great two minute clip of a teacher home visit that shows the importance of telling parents positive news about their children. It’s embedded below:

Here’s a useful video from well-known parent engagement researcher Karen Mapp:

And here’s one from another respected researcher on parent engagement, Anne Henderson:

Alexander Russo this video on his blog. No matter what your position is on Bill Ayers and his work, he does make some interesting comments on parents and the community in this short video.

You might also want to check out The Best Reasons Why Parents Should Be Looked At As Allies & Not Targets Of Blame.

Amy Erin Borovoy has put together her own collection of parent involvement/engagement videos over at Edutopia that are worth a look, too.

I’ve previously posted about Tellin’ Stories, a parent engagement strategy and program. Here’s a video about it:

You can see all my “The Best” lists related to parent engagement here.

My Most Popular Parent Engagement Posts Of The Year — 2012

Here are the ten most popular posts from this blog over the past year:

1. Another Reason Why We Need To Be Careful How We Speak To Parents About Their Children

2. The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers

3. A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement

4. Good Middle School Journal Article On Parent Involvement

5. The Best Ideas On How Parents Can Help Their Kids Succeed Academically

6. The Best Resources On Parent/Teacher Conferences

7. The Worst Parent Engagement Ideas

8. “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement”

9. The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits

10. Jeez, What Was Ron Clark Thinking?

Michele Molnar at Education Week’s “Parents and The Public” blog has also put together a list of the most popular posts from her blog, and they are also worth a visit.

My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2012 (Part Two)

It’s that time of year again, so here’s a listing of what I believe to be my best posts during the second half of the year on building parent engagement in schools.

You can see Part One here.

You might also be interested in a listing of all my parent engagement-related “The Best…” lists.

Here are my choices for My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2012 (Part Two):

New Haven Seems To Do “Parent University” Right….

Is Spending $20 Million On Parent Centers In L.A. The Best Way To Increase Parent Engagement?

“That’s what happens when I start swimming. I start coming up with ideas” Says Chicago Mayor

Video On Our School’s Teacher Visiting Program & Parent University

California PTA Sets Back Parent Engagement Efforts In State

Ed Week Post On “Parent Organizing” By Reform Groups Demonstrates Fatal Flaw In Strategy

“Having gone to school doesn’t mean we all can run a school”

National PTA Changes Stance On Charter Schools, & It’s A Disappointing One…

The Best Posts & Articles On Parent Trigger Movie “Won’t Back Down”

“The Power of the Positive Phone Call Home”

Louisiana District To Try Shame As Their Parent Engagement Policy

“What Parents and Educators Want from Assessments”

“The Power of Family-School-Community Partnerships”

Excerpts From My Book On Parent Engagement

Teachers To Visit Homes Of 7,000 Students — In One Day!



The Best Posts & Articles On Parent Trigger Movie “Won’t Back Down”

“Won’t Back Down” is the upcoming theatrical movie made by the producers who brought us “Waiting For Superman.” It’s about a fictitious version of the parent trigger idea (see The Best Resources For Learning Why The Parent Trigger Isn’t Good For Parents, Kids Or Schools.

Here are my choices for the best posts and articles about it:

FAQ on the Controversial Film Won’t Back Down: What Parents Need to Know is by Leonie Haimson at the Huffington Post.

Walmart is sponsoring a concert to “salute teachers” and benefit Teach For America, where they’ll also show scenes from the film. Here’s the trailer:

There is an excellent In These Times article about the controversy, Walmart, Right-Wing Media Company Hold Star-Studded Benefit Promoting Education Reform Film.

My Center For Teaching Quality colleague Jose Luis Vilson is the star of that article, including quotes like this:

“It’s another Waiting for Superman,” says Jose Vilson, a New York City math teacher and board member of the Center for Teacher Quality. “You have these popular actors, who as well-intentioned as they may be, they may not know all the facts, but they’re willing to back up a couple of corporate friends or people maybe they’ve become familiar with” in “trying to promote this sort of vision.”

And this one, where Viola Davis doesn’t shine (though, admittedly, she may have said much more that wasn’t quoted by the reporter:

Vilson says he was particularly disappointed by Viola Davis’ participation, given The Help star’s past comments about wanting to elevate the voices of often-ignored domestic workers.

“You should also see the alignment between that and what’s going on with teachers,” says Vilson, “and the bad tone that’s being sent throughout the country.”

“I’m sorry,” Davis told the New York Times, “I just know if you don’t have a strong advocate for a child, they’re not going to make it.”

It was particularly disappointing to learn from the article that CBS is planning on airing a special on Walmart’s event….

“Parent Trigger And Why We Need To Talk [Let’s Be A Solution] is a great post by Jose Luis Vilson that’s a follow-up to the article.

Check out a review by someone who has seen it, Rita Solnet, which appeared in The Washington Post.

I also wrote a commentary on the film in reaction to a New York Times column about it.

Education Week also published a very thoughtful review.

American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten has just published a critique of the new “Won’t Back Down” movie, ‘Won’t Back Down’ union stereotypes worse than ‘Waiting for Superman.’

Here’s an excerpt:

I don’t recognize the teachers portrayed in this movie, and I don’t recognize that union. The teachers I know are women and men who have devoted their lives to helping children learn and grow and reach their full potential. These women and men come in early, stay late to mentor and tutor students, coach sports teams, advise the student council, work through lunch breaks, purchase school supplies using money from their own pockets, and spend their evenings planning lessons, grading papers and talking to parents. Yet their efforts, and the care with which they approach their work, are nowhere to be seen in this film.

“Won’t Back Down” Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal is a very thorough article from The Center For Media and Democracy bout the film and the policy.

‘Won’t Back Down’: Film critics pan parent-trigger movie — update is from Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

Reaction to “Won’t Back Down” Shows Critics Have Learned Something is by Anthony Cody at Education Week Teacher.

‘Won’t Back Down’ gets a D+ for a public school polemic is from The Chicago Tribune.

Bad Lessons From ‘Won’t Back Down’ is by Dana Goldstein.

A Political Football in the Classroom: ‘Won’t Back Down,’ With Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis
is by The New York Times.

Director of “Won’t Back Down” Tries to Explain, but Questions Remain
is by Anthony Cody at Education Week.

Hollywood propaganda is from The Washington Post.

Diane Ravitch reports that “Won’t Back Down,” the parent trigger-pushing film, is now officially a box office flop. Read the details at “Won’t Back Down” Continues to Plummet.

Public education’s new quick fix is a good piece at Salon about the parent trigger and the recent “Won’t Back Down” film.

Here’s how it ends:

The quest for easy fixes is seductive. But the more we look for Hollywood-style magic bullets, the less we focus on what makes public schools work.

“Won’t Back Down” revived as centerpiece of corporate lobbying campaign is the headline of a Washington Monthly article. Here’s how it begins:

The cringe-inducing anti-teachers’ unions movie may have had the backing of wealthy corporate education reformers, but the magnates couldn’t seem to use their entrepreneurial spirit to cobble together a decent flick. The astroturfers dream, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, completely flopped at the box office when it was released last fall. In fact, if movie-goers’ taste is the sole metric, “Won’t Back Down” was the worst major film in the history of cinema. The Huffington Post reported that the $2.6 million it took in on its debut weekend set “the record for worst opening of a film that released in over 2,500 theaters.”

If the billionaire backers of this film — Philip Anschutz, through Walden Media, and Rupert Murdoch through 20th Century Fox — held their production to the same standards that they want to impose on public schools, every last copy of “Won’t Back Down” would be sealed in a series of wet cement laden oil drums and eventually heaved into Lake Superior. Yet they won’t let it die. They just (sorry) won’t back down. According to the AP, they’ve stripped the movie of its flimsy pseudo-artistic pretensions, and have placed it at the center a new lobbying effort.

USA Today has a similar article.

Feedback is welcome.

You might also be interested in all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement.

My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2012 (So Far)

I usually just do a year-end list on parent engagement posts and many other topics, but it gets a little crazy having to review all of my zillion posts at once. So, to make it easier for me — and perhaps, to make it a little more useful to readers — I’m going to start publishing mid-year lists, too. These won’t be ranked, unlike my year-end “The Best…” lists, and just because a post appears on a mid-year list doesn’t guarantee it will be included in an end-of-the-year one. But, at least, I won’t have to review all my year’s posts in December…

You might also be interested in a listing of all my parent engagement-related “The Best…” lists.

Here are my choices for My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2012 (So Far):


The Best Resources For Learning About Parent Fundraising & Equity Issues

As public financing for schools goes down, the issue of parent fundraising for schools — and equity issues connected to it — is getting more and more attention.

I thought I’d at least get a start on bringing together a few resources on the topic. Additional suggestions are welcome:

I’ve written a post titled The Nuances Of Parent Fundraising For Schools that is worth a look.

The New York Times wrote about how “At Two City Schools, Parents’ Money Leads to Two Very Different Experiences.”

And The Times has also published Fund-Raising Fairness Is Being Tested in Oregon, With Mixed Results. Here’s an excerpt:

So a compromise was struck.

Efforts to split Santa Monica-Malibu district gain new traction is an article in The New York Times about a controversy around wealthy parent fundraising in Malibu being with Santa Monica.

Parents could have private foundations for their children’s schools. But 30 cents of every dollar raised after the first $10,000 must be passed on to the citywide foundation.

Rob Reich (not Robert Reich, the former Clinton Cabinet member) has written a useful article in The New York Times titled Not Very Giving.

It’s about the issue of parents in wealthy communities raising private funds for public schools, while high-poverty schools are in the same situation.

Here are his suggestions for how to respond to problem:

There is still a lot we can do to improve upside-down system of charity. First, wealthy school foundations like Hillsborough’s should honor the equality-promoting standards released by the National Commission on Civic Investment in Public Education (on which I served). At a minimum, would require private giving to be aggregated across schools and equally with the entire school district. More ambitiously, it would channel private giving to support poor districts.

Second, because the root cause of inadequate school financing is ultimately political, not philanthropic, donors and school foundations should support political reforms. A movement is afoot in California to amend the property-tax slashing Proposition 13 to require fair market value taxation of commercial real estate, which would raise tax revenues. In effect, by asking parents to donate, the Hillsborough Schools Foundation encourages them to work around the obstacle of Prop 13 rather than confronting the problems it creates directly. It would be better if the foundation organized parents in support of amending Prop 13.

Finally, Congress should differentiate or eliminate charitable status for local education foundations. If a foundation raises money for a district with a high percentage of children eligible for free lunch, it could offer a double deduction; for a district below the average in per-pupil spending, the standard deduction; for a district with few poor children and higher than average per-pupil spending, no deduction. If private giving to public schools exacerbates inequalities, then at the very least we should stop subsidizing such behavior with tax dollars.

How Budget Cuts and PTA Fundraising Undermined Equity in San Francisco Public Schools is a very interesting article in the San Francisco Public Press that deals with issues of funding inequity far beyond the confines of San Francisco.

In fact, it may be the best piece I’ve seen on role of parent fundraising in this problem and ways to deal successfully with the challenge.

Here’s how it ends:

The most effective solutions may be political, not charitable.

Reich counsels parents troubled by growing public-school inequities to turn their energies from giving to advocating for reform. He said they should work to raise tax rates for the wealthy, decouple school budgets from property taxes and target state and local resources to the poorest schools.

In a Sept. 4 op-ed for The New York Times, Stanford political science professor Rob Reich (no relation to the coincidentally named Robert Reich) went a step further, proposing that the federal government create a special charitable status for school-based PTAs, so that those who give to poor schools get double deductions and those who give to affluent schools get none.

Norton said the changes in state funding have sparked other possible reform ideas specific to San Francisco.

“We desperately need to reweight the student formula,” she said. This may be the most decisive battle to be waged in the next year on behalf of poor and immigrant schools such as Junipero Serra.

“A well-educated populace is the key to a healthy democracy,” said David, the Alvarado parent, who turned to full-time education activism after a successful Wall Street career. “Public education is an investment, not an expenditure. My grandparents were immigrants. They came to the United States, they got a public education, they lived the American dream. Education is the one way we know that can help each person rise, generation after generation. If you care about the future of America, education for all kids is in all our interests.”

Scoreboards and butterfly gardens: Is parent fundraising equitable in Montgomery? is an article that appeared in The Washington Post.

Here’s an excerpt:

Parent fundraising and private donations have produced enviable results at some Montgomery County schools: athletic scoreboards, artificial turf, a nearly $250,000 elementary school improvement project.

Other schools have seen little of such largesse.

Now Montgomery school leaders are asking: Should more be done to spread the wealth?

Such questions have become increasingly pointed in Montgomery, a high-performing school district where both prosperity and poverty exist and where gaps in student achievement are a continuing challenge. To that end, school officials have launched a review of the district’s policy on contributions made to improve facilities.

“If it’s good enough for any kid in Chevy Chase, it’s good enough for my kid, too,” said Melinda Anderson, a parent in Aspen Hill who argued at a community meeting last week that all school upgrades are important and that equity needs to be paramount.

Donation inequality felt among Santa Rosa schools is the headline of an article appearing in the Santa Rosa (CA) Press Democrat.

It’s fairly lengthy, and highlights an ongoing issue in many schools in the inequity of private fundraising. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seriously discuss potential solutions.

Nation’s Wealthy Places Pour Private Money Into Public Schools, Study Finds is the headline of a New York Times article on parent fundraising for schools.

Here’s an excerpt:

The inequities in local philanthropic fund-raising, which is unregulated and tax-deductible for donors, mirror the growth in wealth among the richest 1 percent over all, said Rob Reich, an associate professor of political philosophy at Stanford University. The energy that parents expend raising money for their own children’s school, he said, “comes at the potential expense of their political engagement on a broader basis to actually get public dollars to be enough for all kids.”

The New York Times “Room For Debate” has a variety of commentaries on Bake Sales and Inequality” Fund-raising is useful for public schools, but does is it give better-off families an advantage?

I’m adding post to a list of other “The Best…” lists I’ve published related to parent engagement.

A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement

All My "Best..." Lists On Parent Engagement

Since I have published so many “The Best…” lists, I thought it might be helpful to readers if I posted a few year-end collections.

Here is A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement — 2011:

The Best Ideas On How Parents Can Help Their Kids Succeed Academically

“The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement”

The Best Reasons Why Parents Should Be Looked At As Allies & Not Targets Of Blame

The Best Overviews Of Parent Engagement

My Best Posts, Articles & Interviews On Parent Engagement

The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

The Worst Parent Engagement Ideas

“The Best Examples Of Parent Engagement Through Community Organizing” — October, 2011

The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers

The Best Posts & Articles For Learning About Newark’s $100 Million From Facebook

The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits

The Best Resources On Parent/Teacher Conferences

My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2011 (So Far) — July, 2011

My Best Posts On Parent Engagement Over The Past Six Months — April, 2011

The Best Resources For Learning Why The Parent Trigger Isn’t Good For Parents, Kids Or Schools

The Best Resources For Learning About Parent Fundraising & Equity Issues

My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2012 (So Far)

My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2012 (Part Two)

“First Year Highlights: Parent Engagement In Schools” brings together all my Ed Week columns on parent engagement.

The Best Posts & Articles On Parent Trigger Movie “Won’t Back Down”

The Best Videos On Parent Engagement

My Best Posts On Parent “Academies” & “Universities”

My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2013 — So Far

A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Using Technology To Help Engage Parents

The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools

The Best Multilingual Resources For Parents

The Best Resources On Pre-School Parent Engagement

Blog Is Now Four Years Old — Here Are Its Most Popular Posts During That Time

The Best Resources To Help Engage Parents Of Children With Special Needs – Help Me Find More

“Poll: Parents don’t support many education policy changes” (Plus, Links To Previous Polls)

The Best Education Blogs For Parents

The Best Infographics About Parent Involvement In Schools

The Best Resources For Talking To Parents About The Common Core Standards

The Best Posts On Parents “Opting-Out” Of Standardized Tests For Their Children

The Best Resources For Learning About The “Word Gap”

My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2013

The Best Resources — Specifically For Parents — On Bullying

The Best Articles Questioning The View That Single Parents Are A Problem

My Best Posts On The Harlem Children’s Zone & Other “Promise Zones”

The Best Posts On The inBloom Data Fiasco

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

My Best Posts On Parent Engagement Over The Past Three Months

The Best Commentaries On The “Broken Compass” Parent Involvement Book

The Best Posts On Involving Fathers In Schools

The Best Posts On The Migration Policy Institute Report On Engaging Immigrant Parents

My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2014 – So Far

My Best Posts On “Conditional Cash Transfers”

The Best Advice On Engaging Parents At The Beginning Of The School Year

My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2014 – Part Two

The Best Parent Engagement Resources For Immigrant Families

The Best Parent Engagement Resources – 2017

Part Two: The Best Parent Engagement Resources – 2017

Part Three: The Best Parent Engagement Resources – 2017

The Best Ideas On How Parents Can Help Their Kids Succeed In School

I’ve found several good resources ideas on how parents can best help their children learn (including ideas on how to best respond to problems their children are having in school), and decided to bring them together in one post. You can see all my parent engagement-related “The Best” lists here.

Here are my picks for The Best Ideas On How Parents Can Help Their Kids Succeed In School:

Lorna Constantini has posted a link to a Livebinder of parent resources with activities that parents can do at home.

“But What If I Don’t Know English?” is another great resource from Colorin Colorado. It ideas on how parents who don’t speak English can still help their children develop literacy skills.

Census: Parents Reading More With Their Children is a new Education Week article that includes useful research that teachers might want to with parents. It could be used to help parents see what are some good ways they could interact with their children to encourage learning.

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.

It’s related to three other “The Best…” lists:

The Best Posts About Getting Our Students To Attend College

The Best Sites For Encouraging ELL’s To Attend College

The Best Resources For Showing Students Why They Should Continue Their Academic Career.

Involving Latino Parents in Homework is a nice practical post from ASCD Express.

Ed Week’s Learning The Language blog recently posted information and links to a number of resources in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali for parents with children who might have learning disabilities.

New York Times’ columnist Tom Friedman has published a pretty interesting column on the importance of parent involvement, though I do wish he had a better headline than “How About Better Parents?” In it, he highlights a a couple of new studies (and includes links to them) and quotes one researcher:

Schleicher explained to me that “just asking your child how was their school day and showing genuine interest in the learning that they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring. It is something every parent can do, no matter what their education level or social background.”

4 Reasons Parents Should Speak Heritage Languages at Home is a very important article for teachers who have immigrant students.

People For Education publishes multilingual materials useful for parents. Though some of them are unique to Ontario, others can be used elsewhere. Here’s a sample in English.

Also, you might be interested in this related research on the role of parents in helping students develop their aspirations: “the most effective way of helping children from low-income households to achieve their ambitions is engaging parents in their children’s learning.”

College Bound is a series of videos — both in English and Spanish — designed to help parents get ideas on how they can support their children academically. Parent have to register at the site in order to watch them, but it only takes a few seconds to do so. The videos are very accessible, and a few of them seem useful enough for teachers to use them in the classroom with students.

I liked two in particular — one was on the physical effect that learning has on the brain, and the other was on failure (you might be interested in The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning and in The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures). You can read more about the site at How Can Schools Best Communicate with Immigrant Parents?

Teachers tell parents how to help their kids be better students is from The Washington Post and, even though I’d prefer if the headline wasn’t “teachers tell parents,” it still has some good information.

Nice NY Times Article On Parent Involvement — On Their Fashion Page! is a post I wrote summarizing a good Times article.

Head Start has a series of downloadable flyers in their Importance of Home Language Series that are in English and Spanish. They’re useful for educators and for parents.

The Pajarao Valley Unified School District has an excellent collection of resources on Professor Carol Dweck’s work, and it’s been on The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset” list for quite awhile.

However, they created another related resource that, for some reason, I discovered is not on that list. It’s an exceptional PowerPoint presentation on how to provide feedback to students that promotes a growth mindset. And, in an added bonus, a portion of it speaks directly to parents.

How Parents can help their Child with Homework offers mostly good advice. It’s from a newspaper in Tennessee.

What’s Best for Kids? Tips for Parents is a very good short collection of advice from the Association for Middle Level Education.

My advice to parents is featured in USA Weekend, the Sunday Magazine carried by many newspapers across the country.

The article What teachers want you to know, ends with this:

Research suggests that one of the best things parents can do to support a child is to help him/her develop a motivation to learn. Larry Ferlazzo, a teacher at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, has identified three key ways to do this, supported by studies from the National Research Council and the Center on Education Policy:

• Praise effort and specific work instead of native intelligence. Try saying: “Boy, those two hours you spent working on the essay last night really paid off. I loved how you described the characters in the novel” instead of “Wow, you are a natural-born writer.”

• Connect what children are studying to what is happening in their life and in the world. If he is learning about the Middle East, discuss a newspaper article about issues in that region.

• Avoid using rewards and punishments for academic work. If you give your child a dollar for every book he reads, it’s less likely he will want to read books for pleasure after you stop paying him.

The entire article is worth reading and, perhaps, with parents.

Starting secondary school: a survival guide for parents is pretty good article from The Guardian. It’s clearly British-oriented, but still very useful for parents here in the U.S

9 complaints schools hear from parents: What you should do when something goes wrong is by Jay Mathews at The Washington Post, and contains a lot of useful advice for parents.

Parents: 19 Meaningful Questions You Should Ask Your Child’s Teacher is a good post over at Edutopia.

20 Questions to Ask During a Parent-Teacher Conference offers some pretty good suggestions for parents.

What Kids Learn From Hearing Family Stories is a very interesting article in The Atlantic about the value of — in addition to reading books with their children — parents telling children about family stories.

Here’s an excerpt:

Over the last 25 years, a small canon of research on family storytelling shows that when parents share more family stories with their children—especially when they tell those stories in a detailed and responsive way—their children benefit in a host of ways…. Children of the parents who learned new ways to reminisce also demonstrate better understanding of other people’s thoughts and emotions. These advanced narrative and emotional skills serve children well in the school years when reading complex material and learning to get along with others. In the preteen years, children whose families collaboratively discuss everyday events and family history more often have higher self-esteem and stronger self-concepts. And adolescents with a stronger knowledge of family history have more robust identities, better coping skills, and lower rates of depression and anxiety.

Parent Involvement in Early Literacy is an Edutopia blog post offering a number of useful suggestions to parents of young children.

Cleveland Administrator Launches College Tours for Parents is the title of a pretty interesting Education Week article. It describes the work of the leader of parent engagement for the Cleveland school district.

Here’s an excerpt:

Among the administrator’s most successful parent-engagement undertakings are the Parent University College Tours, which provides parents a much-needed firsthand look at postsecondary opportunities available to their children. For many Cleveland parents, the tours may be their first time visiting a college campus. (All Cleveland students come from families with incomes low enough to qualify them for federal free and reduced-price school lunches.)

Here’s a video that accompanied the article:

I’ve previously posted about an excellent Canadian organization that promotes parent involvement in schools, People For Education.

They’ve just produced this excellent video titled Helping Your Kids Succeed In School:

12 Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Succeed At School is an article at The Huffington Post. You probably won’t find anything new there, but it does have some useful links to research.

Feedback is welcome.

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The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

I’ve written quite a few posts about parent engagement in countries other than the United States, and decided to bring together the best resources into one list.You can see all my parent engagement-related “The Best” lists here.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.:

Parents Get Stuck In is the headline of an article in the Irish Times about parent involvement in that country.

Education must spread beyond school is the headline of a Financial Times article discussing a New Zealand study on the topic, an international survey, and parent involvement efforts in the Middle East. If you click on the link, you may or may not be prompted to register on the site for free in order to access the article. If that happens, you can either access it or just search for the article on the Web. Clicking on it via search results will gain you immediate access.

Improving Parental Involvement in Children’s Education is the title of a series of online presentations and discussions among Jamaican educators and parents. It seems pretty interesting, and you can see a list of the topics they’ve been covering on the right of the page (along with links).

“Engagement must not stop at the gate” is the title of an op-ed published in the Sydney Morning Herald. Its author is the president of the “Australian Council of State School Organisations.” I’m not sure if that’s the Australian equivalent of the PTA or the national association of School Boards. Perhaps a reader can enlighten me.

It sounds like they’re trying to do a decent job setting-up parent academies in Toronto, unlike in many other places (see Some Of These “Parent Academies” Just Don’t Get It….). Here’s a quote from the Toronto article:

“For parent academies to be successful they really have to function based on parent voice, so parents tell us what they want to learn and we invent an adult learning model to support that request,” Jim Spyropoulos, a TDSB superintendent overseeing the academies, says.

I just wish it didn’t sound so “social worky” and they were thinking in terms of parents having more of a voice in running the academies, too. That may be the case, but it is not the impression given by the article.

Here’s an excerpt from a report on a new British study titled “Parents’ Effort Key to Child’s Educational Performance.”

A new study by researchers at the University of Leicester and University of Leeds has concluded that parents’ efforts towards their child’s educational achievement is crucial — playing a more significant role than that of the school or child.

This research by Professor Gianni De Fraja and Tania Oliveira, both in the Economics Department at the University of Leicester and Luisa Zanchi, at the Leeds University Business School, has been published in the latest issue of the MIT based Review of Economics and Statistics.

The researchers found that parents’ effort is more important for a child’s educational attainment than the school’s effort, which in turn is more important than the child’s own effort.

The study found that the socio-economic background of a family not only affected the child’s educational attainment — it also affected the school’s effort.

You can read more at the above link.

Lorna Constantini from Parents as Partners and Dorothy Gossling have created a Parent Tool Kit and accompanying Planning Parent Engagement Guidebook that is being distributed to all school boards and schools in Ontario. It’s a great piece of work and useful to anybody, anywhere. You can get free copies — in English or in French — here.

Beyond the school gate: How schools and families can work better together looks like an important report from two organizations in the United Kingdom, Parentline Plus and the Teacher Support Network.

One of many findings

62 per cent of parents said they had been patronised, sidelined or ignored when trying to deal with an issue in their child’s school.

An extensive paper titled Parent Involvement in Inclusive Primary Schools in New Zealand: Implications for Improving Practice and for Teacher Education was recently published. I don’t necessarily think it’s particularly insightful, but it is interesting to see what’s going on there.

Here are a series of 21 videos demonstrating how schools are connecting to parents in the United Kingdom.

Engaging Families In School By Valuing Their Dreams is a neat story of parents in a South African school working together to create a quilt. Here’s a quote from the story:

“How many families in our schools have dreams no one is asking about? How many are eager to help their children reach those dreams, but they don’t know what to do? We need family engagement outreach strategies that respect their personal experiences, their culture, their knowledge. Then we can build true partnerships with families that help out students be successful and our schools thrive.”

Collaboration and communication as effective strategies for parent involvement in public schools is an interesting research paper from South Africa. Thanks to Steve Constantino for the tip.

New Zealand parents have forced their government to back-down from planned increases to class sizes. You can read about it at Parents help win class reprieve.

More On Parent Engagement In New Zealand

The European Parents Association seems to be an organization of all the PTA-like groups in Europe. I hope someone out there will correct me if I’m wrong. It seems to have some useful information.

The Australian Council of State School Organisations seems to be the primary national organization for parents in Australia. There are quite a few resources on their website.

Joe Mazza is back from a visit to schools in Finland, and has written a great post — including video interviews with a parent — titled The Voice of the Finnish Parent.

A research report on parent engagement in the United Kingdom has been released. The Rapid review of parental engagement and narrowing the gap in attainment for disadvantaged children doesn’t seem to anything that would be new to people involved in parent engagement efforts.

I did like that it talked about “instances of parents from ethnic minorities telling stories in class in their community’s home language, or attending school themselves for language and literacy classes.” I’ve written about that and how I’ve done it in my classes, but haven’t seen it talked much about in other areas.

I also liked that it mentioned how important it is to “stress the need for a genuine collaboration between parents and facilitators, with a two-way exchange.” However, a big disappointment was that it didn’t seem to follow up that statement with specific examples highlighting how that was done.

‘Pay teachers more instead of free laptop’, Kenyan parents say is the headline of an interesting newspaper article. The Kenya National Association Of Parents opposes the $700 million dollar government deal with Microsoft to give free laptops to students because of the present shortage of teachers, the bad working conditions of present teachers, and the lack of preparation for the technology program.

I don’t know the specifics of Microsoft’s program, though the mixed results of the One Laptop Per Child program does raise some questions about what they might be doing.

There’s a much bigger question, though — Again, I don’t know the details, but perhaps Kenyan parents should have been consulted prior to such a major education policy decision?

Just sayin’….

Meet the Parents starts a welcome grassroots movement: local people speaking up for their schools is an article in The Guardian about parents organizing in the United Kingdom to help people see the good things that are happening in regular public schools in an effort to encourage them not to enroll in the UK’s equivalent of charters (at least, that’s my reading of what they’re doing — let me know if that’s an inaccurate summary).

Black Parental Involvement In South African Rural Schools: Will Parents Every Help In Enhancing Effective School Management is a research paper containing the results of interviews with South African principals and principals.

Many of the issues will sound familiar to us in the West. What’s particularly interesting, though, are the comments made by the research about how to respond to the challenge using “African models of leadership.”

It’s relatively short for an academic study, and very accessible — definitely worth a read.

A report has recently come out on pretty amazing results that came from making home visits to families in Jamaica. You can read an article about it in the Pacific Standard as well as the original research study.

Smarter Schools National Partnership Family–School Partnership is an Australian initiative that looks pretty impressive.

They have a lot of good resources at their site. I’ve embedded a short animation that’s there, too.

The Guardian reports on a new British parents group called Parents Want A Say.

Its initial impetus was fighting what appears to me a ridiculous policy of fining parents when they take their kids on vacation while school is in session, but they’re not stopping there:

While the group’s initial focus is on changing the policy on term-time absences, Langman says it is only one of many areas where parents feel that they are not consulted in decisions about their children’s education. Ultimately, he says, Parents Want a Say will branch into other issues, aiming to “bridge the gap between parents and education”.

Guest Post: Parent Engagement In Scotland

DET plugs parents into learning that includes links to several new parent engagement resources from Australia.

None of them seem to share much that will be new to most educators, but some of the resources for families might be useful.

Scotland seems to be importing some ideas from the United States, and you can read about it in an article headlined Radical shake-up of parental involvement in schools.

Feedback is welcome.

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You might also want to explore the 780 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.