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Queries and Replies

Replies to Query:


Has your project successfully involved parents in helping to implement...

Reply 1:

One of the ways that Leader Teachers in our project have involved parents in learning about standards-based science curriculum and the inquiry-centered instructional practices they are using is to design interactive homework. The model for this is the TIPS (Teachers Involving Parents in Schoolwork) program from the Johns Hopkins University Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships. Teachers send home an introductory letter acquainting parents with the goals and format of the interactive homework packets (typically a few supplies and some printed pages in a ziplock bag). The teachers then design activities to engage parents and older siblings or caretakers with their children in simple investigations that are directly connected to the content of the modules they are teaching. Packets which have been produced in class sets typically go home on Thursday or Friday and the students bring them back on Tuesday or Wednesday. A successful practice has been to have families note their findings on simple data collection sheets with comments that can be shared in a whole group discussion when the packets are returned. Some of the packets rely on materials that may not be found in the home and so the teacher may not have an entire class set of these activities. These packets rotate from student to student as the activity is completed in one home, and a journal rotates with the activity for families to note their data and experiences and comments. The journal sharing has been a huge hit as families love to read what the previous families wrote about their investigations. In one of our schools, an inservice day was devoted to creating interactive science homework in the grade levels K-6. The day was planned, designed, and lead by the principal and leader teachers. In the morning the faculty discussed the structure, content and benefits of interactive homework with the leader teachers who had used the packets. They invited parents to the session to relate their opinions of and personal experiences with interactive homework. The teachers who hadn't used the packets had lots of time for questions and concerns (interestingly, the parents chose to answer most of the questions), and then the faculty went off to classrooms in grade level groups to design one or two activities to complement the next module they would teach. At the end of the day, K-6 teachers gathered in the cafeteria with their newly-designed activities (many with letters, activity directions and data sheets or journal prompts all ready to go!) and each group took five minutes to present their work. The articulation across grade levels was terrific since many teachers learned about what content was being taught and what expectations teachers had for student work at various grade levels. The principal and leader teachers took full responsibility for ordering/acquiring necessary supplies. That was last year and since that time the school wrote a mini grant to get more supplies and time for teachers to develop additional interactive homework packets for other science modules. The interactive homework has now extended to mathematics as well. Parents are very positive about the experience therefore parent volunteers are an excellent source of help in putting together the packets.


Susan (Sinkinson) Elko, 1/16/1999