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Category: SCHOOLS

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    Inquiry-Based Science: A Dynamic Approach to Developing 21st Century Skills

    11/11/13 - Hammerman, Elizabeth

    In the 2013 Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the term "inquiry" is included in the dimension called Practices. This broader term better specifies the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that characterize what scientists use to investigate and build models and theories about the world. It emphasizes the expectation that students will engage in the practices of science rather than learning about them secondhand.

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    Inside Charter Schools: Unlocking Doors to Student Success

    1/10/11 - Gross, B.

    The research shows that allowing schools to develop their own mission, granting them freedom over their budgets and personnel, and holding them accountable for performance can have valuable effects in schools and for the educational system more broadly. The freedom given to charter schools can lead to new programs serving diverse needs, to higher expectations for low-income and minority students, to more schoolfocused professional norms for teachers and leaders, and to new ways to hire...

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    Let's Try: A Marketed Bibliography

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    This idea of a marketred bibliography involves persuading others to read and talk about new ideas by making it attractive and enticing – by “marketing” your task to them the way commercial companies market their products to entice us to buy them.

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    Let's Try: Getting Creative with Family Volunteers

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    School personnel need a long and varied menu of ways families can contribute beyond the traditional options of things like helping in classrooms, reading to students, or doing paperwork in the office. The presence of more family members in school increases the ratio of adult to students. Almost regardless of what they do when at school, their presence – their willingness to interact with students while they are there – will make a difference.

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    Let's Try: Kindergarten Books

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    Welcome books have pictures of the principal, secretaries, Kindergarten teachers, lunchroom manager, librarian and janitors – everyone that a new student needs to get to know. Under each picture, the duties or responsibilities of each person are listed, and how their duties relate to the child. The book can include whatever will help the student familiarize themselves with the new school. It could include maps of the school or community, description of special school events or routines...

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    Let's Try: Mini Surveys

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    Learning what families think about the school and their children’s progress is important information for school personnel, and we need to work harder to gather it! So, instead of sending home a long survey, use opportunities when family members are already present in the school to collect their responses on a couple of survey questions that they can complete quickly and move on.

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    Let's Try: Office Greeters

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    To make sure the school is a welcoming place for family members to visit, arrange for family members to volunteer as office greeters during busy arrival and dismissal times or other times when there are likely to be a lot of visitors. Having family members act as office greeters to other families helps strengthen the connections with community and support often busy school personnel because they can take more time with family member visitors, making sure they get to where they need to go and...

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    Let's Try: Pajama Party

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    Host a pajama party for elementary school students and families in the evening. Everyone is invited to come in their pajamas to hear bedtime stories and have cookies and milk. Families are encouraged to bring their favorite storybook or offer a favorite oral story in their native language. This activity could be extended to junior high by turning it into a movie night, along with popcorn and other snacks and followed by a discussion of the movie.

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    Let's Try: Shadowing

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    Some schools use this shadowing strategy regularly as part of their ongoing program evaluation. By having family members first experience and then share the information with other families and discuss “what it’s like to be a student here”, family concerns and satisfactions can be gathered and shared with school personnel.

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    Lets Try: Community Options

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    This idea comes in two parts: (1) create a Community Assets Map, and (2) begin to schedule school meetings and events in community locations.

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    Lets Try: A Family Room

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    Schools need to welcome families, and many schools are not very welcoming. One way is to create a space in the school where family members can come to meet and talk with other families, teachers, and other community members and professionals

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    Lets Try: Conversation Cards

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    Conversation cards provide family members with information about the classroom schedule, the organization of the room, and common activities so they can ask more directed questions. This strategy works really well in elementary and sometimes middle schools to give families a way to hold a richer conversation with their children about the day’s events.

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    Lets Try: Family Connections Newsletter

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    Lots of schools use newsletters, consider adding the following sections or columns that focus on “Family Connections.” Report summaries of what you learn from parents. Offer descriptions and explanations of school initiatives and policies. Suggest things families can do together at home that will reinforce student learning.

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    Lets Try: Family Fad Classes

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    Lots of schools have special classes or times during the year when teachers get to offer a class or a series of classes on favorite topics like gardening, dancing, stargazing, photography, or knitting, to name a few. Encourage family members to offer Family Fad Classes on topics they treasure and enjoy. The list could be endless and tailored to every age level. The classes could be a single session or a series.

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    Lets Try: Homework Alternatives

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    An alternative to homework would be integrating learning that will reinforce (but maybe not exactly imitate) what’s being learned at school. By integrating home learning into activities that families already routinely do, family have more opportunities to reinforce school learning than they might achieve through homework.

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    Lets Try: “Friday” Folders

    1/14/10 - Ferguson, Dianne

    Good communication between teachers and families can help build school community and foster successful school experiences for kids. One way to achieve good communication is to establish a consistent system for sharing information. A weekly “Friday” folder, provided to each student by his or her teacher, creates an arena for schools and families to share information, successes, questions, and suggestions.

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