Education World's Best Idea Ever feature highlights a favorite teacher-tested idea designed to help you teach a lesson, manage a classroom, communicate with parents, impress colleagues and administrators and amaze them all with your energy and creativity!
Last year, I started using a spiral notebook for each child as a parent notebook. At the beginning of the year, the notebook goes home with a letter about how it will be used. Each week, progress reports are stapled into the notebook to inform parents about academics, effort, behavior, preparedness, and attendance. Parents are encouraged to look at the notebook each night to see if I have sent home any communication. I take care not to make it a "behavior" notebook, but to include great things that have happened or even notices when their child felt ill, and so on. I also attach notes about upcoming tests and projects and test scores. Parents can use the notebook to write to me about anything. I ask them to write notes about absence and lateness in the notebook as well.
The notebook is a huge timesaver for me because I can refer to it all year long. Rather than having to pull out a folder stuffed with random notes on different pieces of paper, I have all the documentation in one place. Students with organizational issues have everything in one place as well, and are much less likely to lose what is sent from school to home and back.
Next year, I plan to have my third graders write in their notebooks at the end of each day to tell about their day at school. That way, the notebook will become even more interactive with parents.
Since I started using the notebooks, communication with parents has increased tremendously. When I sent out a survey at the end of last school year to get parent feedback about the notebooks, the positive response was unanimous.
Debra McPartland, Arlington Elementary School, Baltimore (Maryland) City Public Schools
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