Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Right Hat for Success with Classroom Volunteers

It’s the beginning of the school year. Many of my teacher friends have returned to school. Many of my parent friends have sent their children off to school. As a former teacher, I wanted to share this thought with you…

Teachers wear multiple hats and even capes. We are communicators, facilitators, disciplinarians, evaluators, counselors, super heroes, and even mother-figures, but there’s another hat that needs a spot in the collection.

We all want our students to reach their highest potential and we see how differentiated instruction is beneficial to reaching this goal, but it’s difficult to say the least when teachers are stretched thin. At some point, it’s best if we take off the cape and say, “I just can’t do this on my own.”

There is a whole group of people out there that can help. Most teachers ask for parent volunteers at the beginning of the year and we get a few responses. We use the parent resources we can, but there’s an untapped pool of parents and grandparents out there that aren’t getting involved. Parents often don’t realize how useful they can be in the classroom, can’t speak English, or work full-time. So, we need to put on our Recruiter Hat and show them how they can get involved.

How to be a successful recruiter:

1.    Begin asking early and ask consistently. That doesn’t mean badger parents, but ask parents at Open House to mark the types of volunteering they can offer on a form. Then, call on different volunteers to help at different times throughout the year. 

    Check out this Bulletin Board craft that will help you get your year started off in the right direction by letting your students' parents know that you encourage their help and support at home and at school!

2.    Ask for help in a variety of ways. Yes, it would be great to have help in the classroom, but parents can be beneficial at home or occasionally traveling to stores to buy materials we need like paper plates for a story sequencing project.

3.   Be specific in your requests for the types of help you need. A parent might not feel comfortable teaching a small group, but they might be able to supervise students working on computers, read a book to the class, or listen to students as they read sight word flashcards.

4.   Ask them directly. Get to know your parents when they come in for Open House or Curriculum Night. Think of ways they can help that would work for them specifically. Then, make a phone call to personally invite them to help out the class.

5.    Offer a volunteer mini-course. There are parents that would love to teach small reading groups or work with students as they write stories, but they don’t have the confidence to volunteer or the knowledge to do it right. Teach them the basics they would need to successfully support students in these areas.

If you’re a classroom teacher, I encourage you to take the time to recruit parent volunteers. In the long run, it will save you time, not to mention all the benefits of having more help in and out of the classroom.

If you’re a parent, I encourage you to find a way that you can support that classroom teacher. The more help she has from parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, the better she can teacher all the students in her class, including yours.

God Bless You on Your Learning Journey ~

Teacher’s I have these excellent products that I developed and used in my classroom for 9 years that helped me get my parents involved in practicing reading skills with their children! I hope you take a moment to check it out!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Chalk Rocks: An All-Natural Art Craft

Kid’s Art: Rock Chalk Designs

Are you planning to do a rock study this year? We’ll if you are save this activity for when you finish. It’s a lot of fun and it will give your students a relaxed environment to talk about the observations they make about rocks together.

The Preparation Stage…

Go on a Rock Hunt

Grab a bucket and head out to the woods or a rocky creek bed or anywhere you might find some pretty big rocks. You don’t want your child picking up anything that is going to injure their back lifting it or their foot dropping it, but something about the size of a man’s fist is good. Grab a few if there are plenty available. We had a good time looking for just the right size rocks. We compared the sizes of all the rocks we saw. We talked about their weight as we picked them up… or tried to. We talked about how some were stuck in the ground and why/how that happens sometimes.

Cleaning Rocks

We had a lot of fun with this part of the activity as in we made a really big mud mess! I gave my kids a tub of water and some paintbrushes to wash the rocks off. They had a good time flinging mud sprinkles as they scrubbed away at their rocks. It was fun for me to listen to their conversations about the rocks during this time. One would say, “Look! I found a shiny spot.” While the other child would point out that he found one with black speckles. Once we got all the mud and dirt off of the rocks and onto our clothes, we set the rocks out to dry. If you’re not into letting your kids get dirty, wearing old clothes or a smock would be a good idea.

The Designing Stage…

Rock Chalk Designs

Once the rocks were dry, with chalk in one hand and a rock in the other, my kids started decorating. Lily Anne loves pink, so here rocks were pick by design. Caleb tried to draw trucks and tractors on his rocks, but in the end decided to color them in.

Using chalk paint would also be a fun way to decorate rocks.

The best part about this activity is that we can enjoy the beauty of our art word, but that the rocks can be returned to nature undisturbed. I especially enjoy find artistic ways my kids can express themselves without using a medium that takes up space in our limited space RV. Taking a picture helps us keep the fun memories and the beautiful designs in our hearts.

I hope your children enjoy getting creative with rocks too! I’d love to hear how they went! Feel free to let me know in the comments below or find me on Facebook or Twitter! I always love to hear from my readers!

God Bless You on Your Learning Journey ~

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