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Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
Wyoming Teacher Policy Institute
Jean Davies, Goins Elementary School, Cheyenne, WY

Research Question:
In what ways could teachers educate/communicate with parents so parents better support their children’s learning?

I have been teaching fifth grade in a Title One School in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for over sixteen years. It has always been difficult to get parents involved in academic activities in the classroom. I chose to design activities that would make parents and guardians more visible in the classroom in order to research its effects.

Each month a new activity was presented and parents were encouraged to participate. The following activities were undertaken:


o September:

Parent Information Night;

o October:

Parents invited to spend one hour in class;
Halloween party;

o November:

Extended parent conferences offered;
Thanksgiving luncheon;

o December:

Parent volunteer readers for Christmas stories;
Christmas party;

o January:

Parent participation in classroom science lesson;


o February:

Health Fair/ Parents invited to actively participate.


I have kept a portfolio with comments from parents during their visits, as well as comments about student achievement and behavior after the parent visits. I have made some behavior phone calls, all to parents who have never participated in any classroom activity. I used mid-term grades, report cards and classroom assessments to measure student achievement.


After five months with a variety of classroom activities, I have been able to analyze the data and draw some conclusions:


o Parents are more supportive of learning;
o Parents demonstrate better understanding of standards and benchmarks;
o Student attitudes are more positive toward learning; and
o Student achievement has not increased significantly with parent involvement.


This study explored ways teachers might educate/communicate with parents to enable them to better support their children’s learning. This action research study has important implications for educational policy. Questions raised by this project, which need further investigation, include:

  • Are parents unwilling or incapable of assisting students with academic work at home?
  • What is the relationship between quality teachers and student achievement in a Title One School?

 

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