Back-to-School Night or Parents Night, as it is is sometimes referred to, is a big event on the school calendar and an opportunity for parents and teachers to meet and connect. This night can set the tone for the rest of the year, so community-building is a priority.
Perhaps the school can display a couple of books that parents and children might read and discuss. Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little and Speak to Me (And I will Listen Between the Lines) are two great examples. Perhaps they can have a computer set up with the ReadWriteThinkfinity Episode 5 - Back to School podcast playing and give parents the information to locate it through http://www.thinkfinity.org/parents-and-kids from their home computer.
This is a geat way to introduce parents to quality information and activities they can learn from the reading experts and share with their children.
Perhaps a sample Bio-Cube and a sample Character Trading Card by the computer would show parents activity ideas they might find through Verizon Thinkfinity to excite their children about reading. Don't be surprised if parents ask for some training time on using Verizon Thinkfinity. :-)
How can schools share Verizon Thinkfinity resources at Back to School Night? I look forward to reading your ideas.
Most back to school nights I've ever attended (for my own kids) or hosted (as a secondary ed teacher) were on extremely tight schedules. Parents are ushered in and out with the bell and have barely enough time to locate the next room before the teacher has to start her presentation. There really isn't time for parents to browse or watch a video clip or a webinar.
To me - the better way to introduce Thinkfinity is as part of the teachers "This my plan for the year" presentation. A quick reference with a screen shot of a few different types of resources available via Thinkfinity is about all a teacher has time to share. Always following with more detail and for more information.. on the teacher's Information all Parents Should Know handout.
I agree with Theresa about the tight schedules at Open House or similar activities. But I wonder is if we could incorporate the information with what we give them on the online parent portal, online school calendar, etc?
While many of our homes do not have Internet, our parents are increasing technology savvy and use social media to keep up with school activities at the public library or on their phones. It could even be a Twitter or Facebook post if your schools have a presence there.
All schools struggle with parental involvement and how to help the parents help the students. TF has so many opportunities for learning, I can't help but think all parents would find something of use and interest.
Because we all agree that the time allotted for "Meet the Parents" night is usually about 7 - 10 minutes. Bells ring, parents scramble to follow their student's schedules, get to the class 2 minutes late just like their students, sit and check-out the teacher, bells ring... and they are off again.
In 35 years of classroom instruction K-12, it was always that way regardless of the state I was teaching in.
So, my suggestion is that with the advent of technology, we suggest to teachers the following:
1) Give the parents a 3x5 card as they enter the room. All the teacher's contact info is on that card.
Webpage url, contact number for emergencies, email, and anything else the teacher wants to provide.
2) Have the Webpage on the projected on the screen as they enter.
3) Stand at the door and shake hands with a formal introduction
4) Take five minutes and show links... Links to course Syllabus, links to assignment portal, links to classroom help (This is where the Thinkfinity Website link could be housed.) Show one.... interactive depending on the class.
If it is an elementary class - show a math interactive selected from one on the Activities Bar. If it is English literature at senior level, show a Shakespeare site with all the sonnets, quotes, and entire plays available.
This should take at most 2 minutes.
5) When bell rings, suggest that if they have further questions to please send an email.
6) Usher them out and prepare for next class of parents.
7) One more thing... remember to smile as though you are having the time of your life.
For those parents who do not have Internet at home, they will access the teacher's Website from work. At least I have found that to be the case.
The above is rather simplistic, but so often we make our work harder than we need to... Have a great school year.