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A Homework-Free Classroom

Dana Murphy looks at homework from the twin perspectives of mom and teacher, and finds she hates it from both views.

Summer Literacy

“What can I do to help my son and daughter stay sharp and not lose momentum during the summer?” When a parent asks this question, Mark Levine offers his Top Six Summer Slide Preventers.

Unadulterated Reading

Just reading. Pure, unadulterated reading. That’s the reading homework that matters most in the long run. Stephanie Affinito explains why.

Conferences Between Middle School Parents and Teachers

Parents of middle school students are often bewildered at how best to deal with their child’s unresponsiveness. Jennifer Schwanke explains how teachers can construct conferences with middle school parents that foster reflection, action, and shared goals.

Ohana Means “Family”

Suzy Kaback is startled to see a picture of her deceased father on the wall when she visits her daughter’s seventh-grade classroom. It’s the start of learning about the power of ohana in schools.

One Child, Many Stories

Asking the right questions of family members can get you far more valuable information than anything from an assessment, especially when you are dealing with English language learners. Stella Villalba explains why initial meetings with new families are crucial.

Parent Book Clubs

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills lead virtual parent book clubs to foster more home/school connections and build a love of reading outside the school walls.

Better Parent-Teacher Conferences

Jennifer Schwanke explains how she stopped railing against the tradition and learned to appreciate parent-teacher conferences. She shares tips for making them better.

School-to-Home Journals

Are you considering school-to-home journals in your classroom this year? Jennifer Schwanke describes how these notebooks build community and literacy skills.

Explaining a Workshop Model to Parents (Part 2)

ennifer Schwanke explains how jargon can trip up communication with parents, and lists which terms are worth defining. This is the final installment of her series on talking about literacy workshops with families.

Explaining a Workshop Model to Parents

Jennifer Schwanke explains why parent-teacher conferences can be bewildering for families, and offers advice for better ways to explain a literacy workshop model to them.

Parent in a Foreign Land

Jennifer Schwanke shares some of the unique struggles parents of English language learners have in making their children's needs known, and how we can help them.

Student-Led Conferences from Many Perspectives

Jennifer Schwanke and Franki Sibberson share four perspectives on student-led conferences — teacher, principal, student, and parent.

Bringing Writers’ Voices Home with QR Codes

Bitsy Parks has her first-grade students record their writing as part of a regular workshop and assessment routine, and then uses QR codes to share the recordings with families and the larger community.

Alternatives to Home/School Reading Logs

There may be few literacy homework assignments more despised by families than the dreaded reading log. Gigi McAllister proposes some alternatives, and explains how she keeps families in the loop on reading progress.

Channeling Monet

Andie Cunningham deals with the tension of welcoming an unhappy parent into her kindergarten classroom.

Learning to Observe: Inviting a Parent to a Tutoring Session

Max Brand brings a mother into the assessment process and teaches her what to observe as her child reads.

Helping Parents Talk with Students

Helping parents learn to talk with their children about what’s going on in the classroom may be more valuable than any homework teachers assign. Max Brand shares some practical tips and prompts he gives to families to launch conversations at the dinner table or in the car.

Writing Homework

If your students are already comfortable with an unstructured requirement of 20-30 minutes of reading each night, you may find adding 10 minutes of writing at home works wonders in fostering writing skills. Katherine Sokolowski explains how the assignment works in her classroom.

Can Books Harm Children? Support and Censorship

Shari Frost asks a provocative question: Can books harm children? She explores practical ways for teachers to walk the fine line between support and censorship in matching books to students.

Getting to Know You: Brown Bag Objects

Maria Caplin uses a getting-to-know-you activity in the first days of school to jumpstart research reading and writing with her fifth-grade students.

Curriculum Night? No Sweat

Curriculum night? No sweat says Tony Keefer. Only kidding — there is a lot of sweat involved, but Tony’s humorous account of how he has changed his curriculum night presentation will get you thinking about new ways of connecting with families.

Animal Backpacks and Literacy Joy

Kelly Petrin finds animal backpacks are a wonderful tool for building literacy skills in young learners, as well as the home/school connection.

Ending Reading Workshop by Planning for September

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan find a little effort at the end of the school year pays big dividends when launching workshops in the fall.

Understanding the Summer Slide: Sharing Data with Parents and Students

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan explain why it is important to share data with parents while school is still in session in order to avoid the summer slide. This is another installment in their summer reading series.

The Gifts of Literacy

Kelly Petrin reflects on what she values most in the final days with children in her preschool program, and what she shares with parents.

Working with Emergent Bilingual Children (PODCAST)

In this podcast, Heather Rader chats with Ruth Shagoury about working with emergent bilingual chidren and their families.

Celebrating Screen-Free Week (BOOKLIST)

Screen-Free Week is scheduled for May 5-11 this year. Here are some book suggestions to help you explore the issue with students.

On the Same Team: Better Parent-Teacher Conferences

Katherine Sokolowski has tips for improving parent conferences by using technology for flexible scheduling and easy follow-up.

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