5 Ways to Utilize Parent Volunteers in the Classroom

 

In the beginning of my teaching career I never even thought about having parents volunteer in my classroom. I was excited and overwhelmed all at the same time but it never occurred to me to ask for volunteers. For years I managed to do everything in regards to my classroom by myself. It wasn’t until my 5th year of teaching that a light bulb went off in my head and I began to ask parents if they wanted to volunteer in the classroom from time to time. I have never looked back. I love having parents volunteer in the classroom. I will say that it does take some organization to get things running smoothly, but once your systems are in place it’s fantastic. Having parent volunteers not only helps me but also provides assistance to my students and builds classroom community at the same time.

I usually start by asking parents what times and days are good for them to come volunteer. We then create a schedule. I have them come in one day or two either during lunch or before/after school to do a brief training of what they will be helping me with. This works wonderfully. For the parents that will be doing prep work and copies, I have a specific box that they go to to see what needs to be done. The trainings and procedures are important because this means I don’t need to stop any of my instruction because volunteers already know what needs to be done. The volunteers that work with students also know what is expected which keeps my instruction continuous.

Below I have listed 5 great ways to utilize parent volunteers in the classroom!

1. Centers

I have literacy and math centers each day and having parents help manage my centers is extremely helpful. For most of my centers I keep the structure the same and only the content changes. This helps everyone know exactly what is expected.

2. Making copies

This is a tedious but necessary job. Parent volunteers are more than happy to help with this. It’s important to train them on how to use (and troubleshoot) the machines and you’re good to go. This includes any other machines they may be using such as laminator, die cut machine, poster maker (you get the idea)

3. Prepping materials for lessons

As busy teachers, we can all use help prepping for our fabulous lessons. I just glance at my lesson plans and pull out whatever materials are needed to prep. These materials go right in my “parent volunteer” box with a brief set of instructions (and sometimes an example). This way with a volunteer walks in my classroom, they go right to the box and can get started right away.

4. Prepping classroom supplies

It’s always a challenge to get a handle on all my classroom supplies and keep them organized. This is where my volunteers come in. I have them organize center baskets, sharpen pencils, organize the classroom library, file papers and anything else that needs to be managed in the classroom on a consistent basis. You can tailor this to your specific needs.

5. One on one reading

I have my students on a rotating schedule where they get to read to a volunteer. This provides structured and targeted practice for an individual student.

At the end of the school year, I have a “volunteer tea” to thank all my parent volunteers and they love it! 

Below is a short video about how I prep for parent volunteers in my classroom.

 

Below are photos of the Parent Volunteer Pack! Click here to get yours!  http://planningwithprecision.com/product/parent-volunteer-pack/

                                   

 

So if you aren’t using parent volunteers in your classroom but are thinking about it, I highly recommend it. Just refer to these tips and modify them to fit your needs. 

Top 3 Reasons to Use Integrated Centers in Your Classroom!

Have you ever thought about integrating your math, language arts, science, and social studies centers all together? I know I can’t be the only one. Well… I decided to do just that this school year in my kindergarten classroom and I have to say… I LOVE IT!

Here are a few reasons why:

#1  I can cover more in less time

As teachers, we are always feeling like we need more time. Especially for everything that we have to cover on a daily basis. With my integrated centers, I can cover more subjects and give my students a variety all at the same time. It also gives me an opportunity to be creative in the activities that I use for my centers. The students really love this variety and integrated way of learning.

 

 

#2 Students can connect their learning across subject areas

This is so much fun to watch! Students start to make connections across subject areas instead of isolated subjects. This provides several opportunities for higher thinking as well as critical thinking skills, which we know is super important. They are fascinated by how what they are learning in math can be expressed through their writing as well as in their science activities and so forth. They build upon current events and connect that with what they are learning in social studies and how they can incorporate that into a simple Keynote presentation (technology) to share with their group members.

 

#3  It allows me to change things up

When it comes to my centers, I really appreciate having a diverse collection of activities to choose from. This not only makes it more fun for me, but it also increases engagement for my students. And we all know high engagement is key to learning and being inspired.

 

These are my top 3 reasons on why Integrated Centers is an essential part of my classroom routine. Stay tuned for a video of how I run my integrated centers soon.

Happy Planning,

Denesha

 

 

5 Tips For Successful Parent Conferences

It’s almost time! Parent conferences are fast approaching. I love meeting with the parents of my students because it is a significant part of a child’s education. So I wanted to put together a helpful list of tips for teachers during parent conferences.

Tip #1:                 

Be Specific

Specify where the student is academically and where they should be at this time in the year.

It’s essential that parents have a clear picture of their child’s academic performance so they can support their child at home as well. Bridging the gap between home and school is important and consist of effective communication. Teamwork and collaboration is key.

Tip #2:

Show student work samples.

Parents love to see the work that their child is doing at school. This also provides essential feedback on what the student should continue to work on and where their strengths are highlighted. This is also a great time to set some clear and measurable goals for the student with the parents input.

Tip #3:

Take notes…

I always make sure to have a notepad and pen ready to take notes during my conferences. This serves as a reference when I need to remember something important that a parent told me or a question that I need to follow up on for the parent.

Tip #4:

Questions???

To make sure that I have addressed everything that I need to during conferences, I always ask the parents if they have any questions at the end of the conference or even if they need something clarified. It’s important to make sure that we are all on the same page since this ensures student success in the long run.

Tip #5:

Have handouts available…

Parents really appreciate resources, especially ones that help them to continue to support their child at home. These resources can be helpful tips to reinforce skills that were taught in class, educational sites, or even book suggestions.

CLICK HERE for a helpful parent conference planning resource!

Happy Planning!

Denesha

Components of an Effective Lesson Plan

Lesson plans are an essential part of teaching. They help us organize our instruction and help keep us focused. I like to think of lesson plans as my “blueprints” that help guide my instruction. Of course they are fluid and adjustments can be made to lessons, but the concepts have structure and objectives are clear.

Throughout the years I have used many different types of lesson planning strategies and templates. For the last 5 years I have been creating my own lesson planning  templates based on my specific needs and curriculum. Through collaboration and my own experiences, I have come to realize what essential components are needed (but not limited to) to build effective lesson plans.

  • Measurable Objectives

Objectives guide the lesson and focus on what the students should learn and do by the end of the lesson. It’s important to make sure they are measurable so progress monitoring can be built in. This helps to create a clear picture of student learning. It also provides a basis for any intervention strategies that may be needed.

  • Check for Prior Knowledge

To maximize student learning, it’s important to have a clear picture of what they already know. This not only provides a starting point on which to teach your content, but it also provides a “roadmap” for where you want to take your students in regards to your lessons.

  • Hands On/Exploration Activities

This part of the lesson is by far favored by all students. Kids are natural explorers. It’s important to provide them with various opportunities to explore and collaborate. Collaborative learning, communication, creativity, and critical thinking are all essential components of 21st century learners.

  • Assessment Piece

This should be directly linked with the measurable objectives. Assessment is needed in order to progress monitor student learning based on the objectives. This provides opportunities to modify instruction to build student mastery of concepts and skills being taught.

  • Intervention Piece

Intervention is based on the assessment given. This can consist of small group instruction, re teaching a concept or skills, or even providing enrichment opportunities.

Effective lessons begin with effective planning. I hope these tips were helpful and useful in implementing into your own lesson planning components.

Here is a video about how I create my lesson plans and the template that I use.

Happy Planning,

Denesha