Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Another Shift to Curriculum Night

I don't remember when we started calling it "Curriculum Night" vs. "Parent Night" or "Open House," but I'd like to share what I tweaked this year, and how it went. (Previous posts about parent night are here from 2017, and here from 2013.)

I kept the same question of the day (night?) for parents to answer with their child's magnet - they seem to like finding the magnet and moving it, then discussions continue as they sit down while I'm greeting more arrivals. (How much did YOU enjoy 7th grade?)

One thing I felt I NEEDED to do was to cover the white board tables. I went for - and received! - grant money four (?) years ago for IdeaPaint for my classroom tables. We'd painted 12 of the 15, as some students didn't want it. Since then, they've been scrubbed with some super-amazing cleaner that has now washed off the protective layer they used to have. So... those goofy drawings of odd faces? Yup. They now look pretty permanent. The questions about the text we're reading? Yup. Still there. It doesn't seem to bother the seventh graders, but it bothers me. Hubby went to the dollar store and bought me six white table cloths, and we folded them twice to place on six of the nine whiteboard tables that are left (I swapped out three of them for two smaller - and square - tables last year - students decided which tables needed to go). If I don't get the gumption to purchase this whiteboard contact paper a colleague recently used to cover his tables, I'll go with the table cloths again next year, too!

Then I collected many books from home. I wanted parents to understand that I keep up with professional development. I also thought - what if THEY read what I've read? They may understand my teaching a bit more, and perhaps share with other parents. So.... I created check out slips for the books I thought parents might enjoy reading. (Here they are - make your own!)

Some books I kept at home, thinking they would be more beneficial to teachers than parents, but I did bring over twenty, so the box was heavy enough as it was. ;)

Was my plan successful? Three points that make me think it was... I was able to share that The Power of Reading really simply stated, "The only way to understand reading more is to READ MORE." One parent (who also teaches ELA) said I had some "awesome books" there, and another parent CHECKED ONE OUT!! Yes! The Feedback Fix by Joe Hirsch was the winner of the night.

Side note: My husband and my co-teacher were the ones who said I should bring Shift This. I just couldn't! Plus, it was not a text that had influenced my own teaching. It was a result.

The rest of Open House / Parent Night / Curriculum Night went very well. I let parents know I was available after the night was over for further questions, and no one showed. (I figure the ones that need to ask weren't able to show this night.)

The next day, one student shared with me that his dad said we had a "touchy-feely" class. He said this right after I had touched his shoulder to say hello when he walked in to class. So I sprang back and said, "Oh, I'm sorry - I just do that automatically!"
He replied, "No. He means it's a comfortable class." I'll take it!

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