Fostering communication between school and home at the elementary level
This blog is part of a series of Teaching Tips for teachers of deaf and hard of hearing students. However, many of the ideas would work well in ANY teaching situation where you are working with children and parents (families).
We will begin at the ground level with an elementary level suggestion for improving literacy and work our way up to other grade levels in later blogs.
This suggestion works on the basis that children learn better when they are involved in the process. They also love to talk about themselves and especially when it involves taking pictures of themselves and including them in the decision making.
Classroom activity: Transferring daily classroom events into a written form in order to promote literacy as well as teach vocabulary to parents using signs and photos.
- digital camera (or good cellphone camera)
- ability to print digital photos after you take them
- large white construction paper (for mounting the photos to)
- Signing Savvy membership for printing and wordlist creation
- Take photos
- Print and mount photos
- Add photo captions from students
- Students pick favorite words
- Send copies home
Begin by snapping a few photos throughout your day of different activities. Later you can even put the camera in the hands of the students and let them decide what to photograph.
Print out the photos and have them mounted on a large sheet of white construction paper ready for your "floor/circle time" (when everyone gathers together in a group and focused).
Now add descriptions to your photos. You can do this a variety of different ways, choosing just one author, or taking suggestions from a couple students, but the point is to have the students give you captions for the activities displayed in the photographs.
This is a great way for the students to put into written language what they all just shared together as a common classroom experience. They will be making a connection between the signs used and the written words on the paper.
Then have the STUDENTS choose five words that you have just written on the paper that they feel would be good to show their families at home the signs for. Maybe it is a word that they have not used before, or one that you will be using a lot in the class in the near future, regardless...let them help in the choosing and emphasize that THEY will need to be the teachers at home to show their families these signs and teach them how to produce them. (They love to be in that role.)
Print the signed words from Signing Savvy and add them to wordlist Then simply underline the five words they choose to focus on and print them from Signing Savvy. Add them to a shared wordlist so that the families that have memberships can refer to them and even create online flashcards or quizzes from home.
The five printed words are then attached to the bottom of the photo page in the space you provided and copied and sent home with the students. This can either be done using a photocopier (you may need to scale the page down to fit on a regular piece of paper) OR just taking a digital photo of the paper. In either case, you can actually create a hard copy that actually goes home everyday, OR in a digital file that is emailed. Regardless, the families become use to the fact that on a daily basis, at least 5 new signed vocabulary will be coming home from school, along with great photos of their children involved in activities at school. Parents will love it and they will see their students excited to tell them what they did at school that day and TEACH them the signs!
* I know it sounds like a lot of work but once you get into the routine of doing this on a daily basis, you will be able to do the whole process in about ten to fifteen minutes and you will wonder why you didn't do it years ago!