How to Reframe the Role of Families in Education (and a Giveaway!)

Last month, Scholastic hosted a gathering of "family and community engagement" leaders from schools and communities across the country at its annual Scholastic FACE Symposium.

The two-and-a-half day event included talks by thought leaders, including Dr. Karen Mapp of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (shown above), Dr. Nell K. Duke of the University of Michigan, renowned literacy consultant and speaker Phyllis C. Hunter, and others.

The keynote videos are now up on the FACE Symposium website for anyone to view, including this video of Dr. Mapp's talk, called "Private Citizens to Public Actors: Reframing Our View About Our Families."

And as a bonus for those who weren't able to attend the event in person, we’re giving away a special pack of books written and signed by selected speakers from the event.

GIVEAWAY! For a chance to win, in the comments section below, share one example or best practice of successful family and community engagement implementation in your school, district or organization.

One winner will be randomly selected to win a collection of four books written and autographed by leading experts in education and family and community engagement. Contest is open to all legal U.S. residents 18 and over; contest closes at 5pm ET on December 14, 2015. Read the complete legal rules here.

Comments

I like to make phone calls home when a student is doing well in class. Especially if it is a high risk student who hasn't done well in the past. I also invite parents to visit my class any time they want.

As an educator I believe it is important to maintain positive relationships with families.

In our school they have a Scholastic Book Fair in the fall and the school has added a Halloween element to it and PTA does concessions and there is literacy and math centers available. After the students go to the other areas, they can take their bingo card up to the top floor of the school and trick-or-treat. There are other community organizations invited as well. One organization even brought free books for every child who came to their booth!

Hello! My name is Michele Langford, and I am a bilingual/dual language kindergarten teacher. My mission is to ignite a passion for reading in my students and their families. One way I do so is by hosting a Family Book Club. Each month I select a picture book that is of interest to my students. Sometimes it's a favorite author, a new release, or one of my personal favorites. I give a "book chat" on the book and invite my kiddos to sign up for the book club. This is where the magic begins! I place a blank sheet of paper on a clipboard and have students sign up. Each day a student brings the book home in a plastic ziplock bag with a note inside. They are to read the book with family members and take a few pictures. Parents send me the pictures through a texting app or email. The child brings the book back and passes it on the next person on the list. After all the book club members have read the book we call a meeting. I have my little learners help decide and plan the club meeting, activities, discussions, and how to invite families. One specific book club we had was for the book Good Night Moon. We had book club meeting with our families during lunch where we enjoyed cookies and milk while we shared our favorite parts of the book. I print the pictures that were sent to me by families and we make a family reading time scrapbook to capture these special moments. To make it super enticing , we had the meeting in our pajamas! Even parents came with pajamas on! After our meeting, children and families walk away with a priceless memory, a title and author they now are familiar with, and a sparkle in their eyes. The day after our meetings, I always have kids begging for another book club. This is what I live for! Mission complete.

I love your idea! I love that you have started a book club for K students! Thanks for sharing!

I give my students my cell phone number with instructions that I will answer calls until 8:45 PM, unless it is a true emergency in which case they should call me anytime day or night. In working in an impoverished area schools and teachers are quite often sometimes the only thing these kids can count on as something that is scheduled, with people that care for them. For the last 8 years that I've been giving out my cell phone number, no student or parent has ever abused having my number. In high school I would call or text students if they weren't at school; if I had missing students in first period, I'd call and wake them up and tell them to get out of bed and get to school. If my missing students were any other period, I would try to find out if they had called in sick or not, either way though I'd send a text asking how they were doing. I also call parents when their child is doing well. I talk a lot about how our class is like our school family and then try my very best to show them what i mean, which includes the phone calls. It always amazes me when high school boys answer my phone calls and/or texts - they know I'm going to bug them to come to school, but they still answer the phone and then come to school about 80% of the time. I think that that kind of behavior exhibits what I've already said: Sometimes school and teachers are the only thing that they can count on, so we have to prove that they can count on us. I now teach 5th grade but I use the same policy, everyone has my cell phone number and no one abuses it. I think it's great to get a phone call from a student asking me to re-explain something.

You sound like a very caring teacher! I know a teacher that keeps in contact with her students parents n all her students have their own emails and google to connect with. My daughter isn't in her class anymore but she still keeps intouch with my daughter and me and other parents n students even through college. its nice when teachers make that connection with families n students.

Hello! My name is Krystal. I have taught both middle school and high school reading in my district. Our middle school has a yearly Literacy Night which we began last year when we invite parents and kids of all ages to come into the middle school, meet the reading teachers, and enjoy a night of fun! Last year, we had Reader's Theater, educational games from our nearest teacher store, explanations of literary technology, and a session exploring what students' test scores actually mean. This night coincided with our Scholastic Book Fair so students were able to win or pick out their favorite books. The night began with pizza and ended with prize drawings. This was a great experience as a reading teacher because I was able to connect with parents and show kids how much fun reading can be!

I am an elementary ELL teacher and every summer we conduct an ELL "Book Buddies" program AKA "Amigos de Libros" to provide opportunities for our students to maintain and continue developing their English language skills and reading abilities. For 3 weeks, we read books, do research projects on animals and play educational games. We even have a visiting boa constrictor that is brought in by a retired teacher friend. A highlight of our program is that our county's bookmobile makes a special stop at our school and all the children get their first library cards.We invite families to come and we take pictures of the children receiving their library cards. We spread out beach towels and teachers, administrators and families all read together. Then, a week later we have an ice cream party where the local bookmobile stops in our community so that families know where they can easily return and get more books out during the summer. Teachers volunteer their time to read with kids, pass out ice cream, talk to families about reading at home and help kids select books. The kids are always so excited to see their teachers in the summer. These events have really helped our kids get excited about reading in the summer.

I keep in contact with my families through email, phone calls, conferences, notes home and going out to talk with them at dismissal. We have 2 family Academic Intervention Service (AIS) nights per year, where the families are invited for a free dinner, parents have an informational speaker and the students have entertainment and leave with a free book!

"It takes a village to raise a child." Hillary Clinton. Parent involvement is crucial in the academic success of our students as well. I am a 7th grade literacy teacher and hold my Reading Specialist license. There are numerous practices done at our school and district wide to involve parents in their children's education but one of the events that was extremely well received was an event we put on called, A Slice of Life Event. The students spent weeks reading and researching a famous person either living or dead who made a significant contribution to society in some way. The unit of study was well received by our students. They then prepared their information in a project using a pizza box and slices shaped like a pizza. Parents and Guardians were invited to come and view the projects. Pizza was served and reading beyond the classroom was encouraged.

Hello! My name is Mrs. Tillema. I am an ELL Aide and work with k-5. At the beginning of every year, the Elementary school has an open house for all parents. When a Spanish speaking parent comes to the open house, I translate for them when they want to talk to the teacher. I send home anything the teacher sends home, but in Spanish. I also let parents know they can call me anytime they want when they have a question. We also have lots of opportunities through PTC for parents to get involved. I have a few Spanish speaking parents who do participate too! I just heard about the FACE program last year, so I was able to purchase books for my students. They loved the books!

Positive phone calls, weekly newsletters, web pages, mandatory parent volunteer hours, Muffins with Moms and Donuts with Dads!

I use the REMIND APP to constantly connect with parents and families. It provides instant communication and has shown much success over the last two years in my classes.

At the Head Start I work at, we have monthly get together with our parents. We also have conferences coming up to discuss their child's progress and,set goals. We keep in contact with our,families daily with either notes or phone calls. Family involvement is a BIG part of our goals at Head Start. We offer many resources to our parents so that they can better themselves and their,child's needs. OUR FAMILIES OUR #1 IN OUR CENTER!!!! We,are always looking to improve our parent involvement. These books,would be a great resource for our program!!!! Thank you for the chance to enter.

Our school is engaging our families in many ways. We are a Leader In Me school, we have a strong PTA, and we work with our families in many ways (from after school programs/tutorials as well as having a backpack club. It's not a fast solution but we are bridging trust and respect with our families and our students want to come to school.

We call our parents at least once a month just to check in. We also have a back to school cookout. At Thanksgiving we have a community dinner.

During our Gingerbread theme we let each student and family take the gingerbread man puppet home and have them take a picture with the gingerbread puppet somewhere in their community. We print out the pictures and place them in our room. Children talk about what part of the community they brought the
puppet to. For example the library or their favorite restaurant.

Our school provides numerous activities throughout the year to get parents involved. Some of those events include a math night full of math games, an ESOL night where Spanish speaking parents have an opportunity to learn about programs at school and in the community, One School One Book where all families in the school read the same book and we have activities at school to keep the students interested, and our biggest turn-out would be for our annual reading pajama night and art show. Students love to bring their parents with them, while they're dressed in their pajamas, for a night of fun reading games with their teachers. At the end of the night, two names are drawn for prize baskets with lots of great books and items for fun reading nights at home.

Our school has had great success with our math and Science night. Each teacher has a station with a math or a science activity. Students display their science projects and we give away prizes related to math or science.

Our school has various Parent Nights scheduled starting with an outside BBQ Get Together in August (food always seems to work), then a Family Movie Night, Game Night, and so on throughout the year. We send home many Newsletters, Remind101 Texts, and have a great updated school website that parents have become to rely upon for various information.

My school uses a variety of family driven events that welcome parents, grandparents and community into the school. Grandparents Day where parents spend time in the classroom and have lunch with their student. Fall Carnival where students and families can come in to the school, play games and win prizes that are operated by the teachers. Family reading night where families come in and read together with their students. It's a great way to get parents involved and students see the buy in from teachers. Much of the planning and management comes from our Parent/Teacher organization.

Just this summer I started my own classroom website. There are tabs for reading, math, scholastic book club, photos, and a blog. Parents can simply click on this weeks story and have access to a list of all spelling/vocabulary words, skills to stuy for the week, and links to games, videos, and songs that they can use to practice. I feel like it has really helped my parent involvement to "be on the same page" and give them some tools to use at home. :)

My students come from rough neighborhoods and feel disengaged when the school year starts. In the first weeks of school, I make home visits to all of my ninth grade reading students' homes to meet parents and share what visions I have for the school year. By doing this, students see that I am interested in their success. As the school year progresses and students read more, minor successes occur. A 100 on a book quiz, a stellar response on a reading log earning a sticker, a parent coming up to school to watch their child perform a book talk. These successes come with many hardships. Complex texts can teach students the art of falling and getting back up. I had one student who read Walter Dean Myers's "Slam!" three times to finally make an 80 on his last try reading. The success he felt after coming up short was indescribable. These successes need celebrating! In the month of December, I host a "book club" party after school. I send a letter out a month in advance so parents can ask off from their two jobs. I hype up the event and challenge the students to truly engage with their books so that they can perform book talks in front of their parents and show them how much they have grown in just five months. Once parents come in the door for the event, they see character sketches students have completed, data showing how much their child has grown on their progress monitoring exams, and the annotations their child has magnificently completed. Each parent brings a dish that is significant to their family's heritage and we done and celebrate each other's efforts in building a future for our students while remembering what got us to that point. This past event, I had one parent come to me after every group had performed their book talks accompanying a Prezi and artwork. The parent's spectacular child had grown 4 grade levels in his reading and became a stellar student who, before, was disengaged and felt worthless. The parent told me, fighting back tears, that, by reading the books, her son had grown into a young man. He could not stop talking about the characters and making connections to his own life. The young man's father is in prison and the mother asserted that she was worried that her son would follow in his footsteps. She told me that, because of this reading class, he had a fighting chance at a life filled with worth, value, and opportunities. I then told her that he became the reader and leader he was today because of his tenacity and drive within himself. When we finished our tremendously moving talk (these talks are the moments that teachers live for), the young man was standing behind me. He saw the tears in my eyes and then, without a beat, shook my hand and hugged me. He whispered, "thank you for opening my eyes." The book talk parties have forged a bridge between the home and the school and, with that connection, our school can now change lives and prepare a future that our young men and women can be masters of!

Coffee with the principal. Worked really well at our school to get parents involved.

our team does a parent event during the school day that is related to the curriculum. This year, we hosted a Latin American Stret Fair. Students created "booth" for the activity and presented a display of their research projects . We had booth on geography, food, customs, clothing, the economy and art. We have 100 students on our team and we had approximately 80 parents attend. We send out invitations well in advance, so parents can plan for the day off if needed.

I started having breakfast meetings and afterschool meetings with light refreshments for parents, where we discuss goals for the Reading class , suggestions for enhancing literacy at home and the purpose and importance of assessments .

We started with offering a free event called Night Under the Stars. We brought in SPOT and the staff at the school all had a station set up that was hands-on. We had about 170 people which was a great turn out for a school of 350 in an impoverished area. Our next event is an ornament making night. Families will be crafting ornaments, talking with Santa, listening to our school band, and sharing favorite holiday snacks. We have 241 people signed up to attend.

I teach fifth grade at a school of 500 in WV. Our school hosts family nights where parents and children are invited to participate in themed activities. We have had Science Night, Family Christmas Nights, Trout Lab Night (where we open up our Trout in the Classroom program), and this year we are having an Art Night. They are very successful and we get hundreds of parents from our little community into our school.

Communication with families should be at the heart of what we do. It will make everyone's (parent,student,teacher) jobs a lot easier. I communicate regularly with families through phone calls and newsletters. I'm currently researching how to start a mentoring program for our school to help our more disadvantaged students.

For the past several years, Queensborough Elementary here in Shreveport has been host to the Prime Time Family Readin program funded by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. This is a 6 or 8 week series of events during which high quality literature is shared and discussed in terms of humanities-based themes. QES originally hosted only the fall series but has since expanded to offer the spring series as well mostly due to participants' demand. Much thanks go to the LEH, its funders, the principals who had/have the wisdom to agree to host, the teachers who staff and volunteer, and the parents who know a real gem when they see one!

During our winter events, we have book give aways and small group readings. Volunteer teachers will set up in a decoration area tucked into a quiet corner and sit in a rocking chair to spend hours upon hours reading to groups during the events. Before the children leave theaarea, they are encouraged to select a new book to take home.

I am a HS Resource English teacher. My students read The Giver in the fall and study aspects of "generations" and "community". We each write a Haiku about a "winter memory". Then we make a greeting card with my embosser and scrapbook paper and place the poem inside as the greeting. We deliver these to a nursing home for patients with Alzheimer's. Then we write small anonymous "Elf letters" and place them in a handmade card to be delivered by Santa Claus to each of our school district's preschool children, reminding them to have good behaviors.

While I am not yet a *real* teacher, and so without my own classroom, I have observed that when a teacher shares genuine praise about a student with his/her parent(s)/guardian, that adult is more likely to participate in projects and class activities. I have also noticed that Literacy Nights and "Exploring Common Core Math Concept" nights generate a lot of interest.

Out school just started doing student led conferences. Students come in with their parents, talk about their grades, their goals and what they need to be successful. We monitor these conferences for our homeroom students. It's nice to see students in a leadership role with parents and teachers supporting them.