2nd Year Project: Accountable Talk & Parent Involvement Alicia Rodriguez and Emily Danford Hart Elementary School Austin Independent School District Austin, Texas 2007
What is Accountable Talk? Accountable Talk sharpens students' thinking by reinforcing their ability to build and use knowledge. • Students actively participate in classroom talk. • Students listen attentively to one another. • Students elaborate and build upon ideas and each others' contributions. • Students work towards the goal of clarifying or expanding a proposition. • Students make use of specific and accurate knowledge.
Using Accountable Talk Even in Kindergarten, students have varying backgrounds and life experiences. If students can learn more about topics at home, they could elaborate and build upon ideas and each others' contributions.
Our Plan What if we asked parents to use accountable talk to reinforce science lessons by asking questions and sharing their own knowledge at home? Would parents become involved in their students’ learning?
Step One We studied mammals in the classroom. Outside of class, we wanted students to focus on: What are different types of dogs? What body parts to dogs have? How do dogs get the things they need for life?
Step Two We created an information letter for the science objective with parents extending learning conversations at home. Suggestions for parent questions: What did you learn in science today? Why do you think it is important to learn about dogs? What did you find interesting in the lesson? What else do you think we should look into to learn more about it?
Step Three Students learned: One parent took his child to a neighbor’s house to talk about the dog that lived there. It was a mutt, and the opportunity lent itself to discussing why it is hard to identify breeds sometimes.
Step Four Parent responses included: I enjoyed learning about dogs with my student. I did not realize how many different types of dogs lived in our neighborhood!
Results of Project • Out of 23 students, 5 parents worked with their students. Students could better distinguish types of dogs. • Since several parents were illiterate, we did not succeed in moving the project forward. However, I did call those parents, so we did get to know each other better. • I learned more about the students and parents by introducing the parent letter.
Rethinking… • This year, I decided to send the letter after we studied mammals so that students could talk about the mammals to their parents and stimulate conversation. • This year, we are moving forward to bats and marsupials!
BATS – the only flying mammals* • I decided to send the letter after we studied mammals so that students could talk about the mammals to their parents and stimulate conversation. • This year, we are moving forward to bats and maripusals! *found in Austin, Texas
Conclusion • We learned that motivating students outside of the classroom is important, particularly for Spanish speakers. When they have more outside experiences that relate to what they learn in the classroom, they begin to talk about the subject with more confidence and interest. • It is also important for me to get to know my students well and their parents too. • I also know that if parents do work with students, positive changes result.
Acknowledgements • Great students and team leaders at Hart Elementary, AISD • Campus resource materials
Reflections The biggest problem this year has been the amount of responsibilities I have as a team leader. The kinder team at our school is the biggest, 8 members. I am beginning to see that the hardest part of being a teacher is dealing with administrative paperwork deadlines. I am lucky to work with a wonderful administration team and curriculum specialists.