No Summer Slide Using these Resources

“If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” By Sherman Alexie


What happens when young minds sit idle for three months…it’s known as the “summer slide”. How can we prevent the summer slide with our students? By informing our parents about what it is and giving them resources like the ones below to help them. 

Reading Lists:

Scholastic Keep Kids Reading All Summer Long: Book List By Age

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading List for Kids

Teacher Vision Summer Reading List

Summer Reading Logs:

You could also use Google Docs and the students nor parents would need an account. What you can do is create a Google Form, then make the spreadsheet public with link- to do this you click the box at the end of the form that says make public for all. They could see what others filled out plus themselves. You could also make it into a competition and see who reads the most books, pages and/or genres etc.

Other helpful resources:

Ink Think Tank (Great free non-fiction!)

Collaborative Summer Library Program (Libraries nationwide)

What Can Families Do to Keep Children Reading Over the Summer?

Summer Reading Tips From Librarians

 How to Make Summer Reading Effective

Please share any sites that you use with your students or parents to prevent the summer slide.

5 Tips in Getting Parents Involved

“A positive parent-teacher relationship helps your child feel good about school and be successful in school” by Diane Levin, Ph.D.


One of the most important things a school can do to help raise student achievement scores is getting parents involved. There needs to be a partnership  between school and parents, working together to better the students academic lives. How can you get parents involved? Below are my top 5 ways.

1. Ask: Often times educators don’t ask parents about volunteering because they don’t want to impose on a parent. Using a site like SignUp Genius, allows parents to sign up for what they feel comfortable doing and have time for. Having multiple volunteer opportunities from brining in snacks, to helping with filing, to creating a bulletin board gives all parents options.

2. Website: Every educator should have a website that has basic information for the parents such as grading polices, helpful websites and class schedule. Embed calendars so parents can record upcoming events, assignments and dates to check to help their children’s progress is also beneficial. If your school doesn’t supply you with a website option, you can create free owns with Weebly, Google Sites  or Wix.

3. Social Media: Communication is huge in getting parents involved and having a school Facebook Page and Twitter is a great way for parents to stay updated.  Don’t believe me: check out these Facebook Stats. Here is a schools Faceebook page from Charlotte, NC: Grand Oak Elementary and a Twitter Page from New Jersey: New Milford HS.

4. Workshops: Having professional development for parents helps them feel comfortable with curriculum and programs helps build trust. An example of workshops that you can have are BYOT  or Common Core so parents can see how they are implemented.

5. Having a Space for Parents: Designing a space for parents helps parents feel welcomed and apart of the school. This space also allows the parents to help the school or teacher without getting in the way of the students learning.

Want more information of getting parents involved read: Education World: Parent Involvement in Schools. Please share any successful tips that have worked for you in the comment section.



Tips and Tricks for Parent Conferences

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” By Tony Robbins

It is that time a year when teachers around the world are starting their parent-teacher conferences. I value an open community and believe that through a partnership between family and school we can support and challenge students to their full potential. With this being said, conferences play a huge part in gaining parents trust that you are doing whats best for their child. In order to have conferences be as successful as possible below are my tips and tricks I have learned over the years.

1. Start by being prepared and organized of how you will manage your conferences. I recommend using Sign Up Genius (it is free) to schedule your conferences. Parents can sign up for the time slot that you have available and the parent can also request an email reminder that the site provides. Make sure you have enough time to discuss each student without making it seem you are ‘rushing’ through because this is a requirement. I schedule mine to last 20 mines but I make the slot a 1/2 an hour. This allows what I call ‘buffer’ time for things such as if the parents running a few minutes late or they have more questions for you etc.

2. The arrangement of the conference is very important. You don’t want to sit behind a table but next to the parent at a table. This helps it feel less confrontational and shows the parent that you are literally on the same side as them; doing whats best for the student. Another key ingredient that goes a long way is refreshments. This relaxes the atmosphere and shows you care. It might cost you $20.00 to get some bottled water and snacks but to me it is worth it to help set up the year for success. I always provided donuts for morning conferences and cookies in the afternoon. Many times parents didn’t take the snacks but that just left more for the teachers in the break-room. 🙂

3. Be prepared! Make sure you have all the student data and information you want to discuss so the parent can see examples. I also suggest making a checklist of things you want to discuss and have it on the board as an agenda. This is not only to help you keep track of what you need to say but also lets the parent sees  you are talking about the same key points for every child. This also helps to keep things moving and prevents the parent taking over the conference. Make sure that nothing in the conference is a surprise. Constant communication is key to any relationship. If there is a problem or concern they should already know about it.

Other tips that will help make conferences more successful:

* Student lead conference is a great way to hold students accountable and allows the parents to see how much their child knows. Let the student ‘walk’ through their portfolio and discuss what they have been learning.

* For every negative (or concern) make sure there is at least 2 positives. Some refer to this the Oreo method or sandwich. If bringing up a concern make sure you have a suggested solution and also ask for the parents input, as they also know what works for their child too.

* Don’t get defensive.

* Don’t forget to discuss the ‘data’ that is part of the hidden curriculum. Ex. What is the student passionate about? What do they bring to the table as far as

* Make sure to ask the parents if they have any questions. Answer as best you can and realize sometimes you might have  to say, ‘I don’t know but I will find out and get back to you.’

* Be flexible. Remember they have a job too. If they can’t make it to some of the time slots you have given-try a phone conference, Skype or Google hangout.

*Give suggestions for what parents can do at home to help.

Lastly, even if you don’t have kids, think about how you would want to be treated if it was your child’s conference.

Getting Teachers and Parents Comfortable with BYOT

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” By Arnold Bennett

This weeks #BYOTchat was my inspiration for this weeks blog post. (Byotchats are Thursdays @ 9:00) The topic was discussing various ways to help technologically challenged teachers in BYOT schools. This got me thinking about how not only do the teachers need to feel comfortable but so do parents. After all, parents are the ones who are letting their kids bring their devices to school.

Many ideas were shared but I think the most important thing we need to keep saying, is technology is not going to replace teachers, as that is many teachers fear. An analogy that @edshelf said, that I think is great is, “Technology can never replace teachers, just like hammers can never replace carpenters. Technology is just a tool.” With that being said, here are some ideas to help teachers and parents feel more comfortable with technology and BYOT that you can implement in your schools.

1. Professional Development (PD) is the most important. Offering many different times along with many different types of PD will help teachers feel more comfortable. For example, offer small group PD to teachers that want to have face to face time and need more one on one but also offer PD to those that are more comfortable with technology and they could do a webinar.  Make sure the PD highlight’s that it is okay to fail and that is how you learn; this concept is also important for teachers to bring back into the classroom environment as well. Also letting your teachers that are comfortable, or your schools technology team lead the PD’s. This lets teachers see that it can work in classrooms. This goes the same for parents, offering PD is important too, it doesn’t have to be the same type the teachers are getting but keeping them up-to-date is important as well.

2. Modeling is very important because teachers can see how technology is a tool and that the real ‘meat’ is the content. When you have staff meetings, PTO events or other professional developments (ex Common Core Training) integrate technology seamlessly is important along with letting the teachers and parents use their devices. When I did a training this past school year for Common Core, I used poll everywhere, to let the teachers use their devices to vote on a question. This showed a way to use this site and devices but for the purpose/content of what I was presenting on. I also created a page on my wiki called ‘Technology in the Classrooms‘ where I recorded teachers using technology in their classrooms. This helped other teachers and parents see how it was being used in the classroom and gain insight and ideas of how they could use it too.

3. I think it is important that we let the teachers and parents bring their own devices to school for staff meetings, PTO meetings etc. I think a great way for teachers and parents to get more comfortable with other devices is by having a ‘petting zoo’ at a staff meeting/PTO meeting so teachers and parents can ‘play’ with other devices besides the one they own. This is also a great time to remind teachers and parents that the teacher doesn’t have to be the expert on all devices, as the students are responsible for knowing their own device.  This petting zoo should happen more than once too because teachers and parents need the time to play.

Please share any other ideas you have about how to make teachers and/or parents feel more comfortable with technology and BYOT.