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Beyond the Bake Sale. Chapter 5. Linking to Learning. How Will Involving Parents Help Your Test Scores? “The point of this chapter is to help families support their children’s learning, both at home and at school.”

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linking to learning
Linking to Learning

How Will Involving Parents Help Your Test Scores?

  • “The point of this chapter is to help families support their children’s learning, both at home and at school.”
  • “Engaging families in children’s learning has a positive impact on student achievement.”

Page 81


Positive Ways to Engage Families

  • Reading workshops
  • Family math nights
  • Home learning packets
  • Saturday academies
  • Parent-run study centers
  • Career portfolio nights

“Studies show that families of students from preschool through high school are eager for this kind of information and will use it when they get home.”

Page 81

consider all s chool a ctivities and events
Consider AllSchool Activities and Events

How closely are they connected to student learning?

Back-to-school nights

Movie nights

PTO/PTA meetings



Ice cream socials



School’s Host

Pages 81-82

“Clearly, the more a program is expressly designed to improve student achievement, the more impact it will have.”

All the programs at your school should help families:

  • Get a clear idea of what their children are learning and doing in class
  • Promote high standards for student work
  • Gain skills to help their children at home
  • Understand what good teaching looks like
  • Discuss how to improve student progress

Page 82

balance is the key
Balance is the Key

Reading/Math Nights

These are important and build relationships with families

These are important and give families information to help their children

Open Houses/Fall Fairs

Almost any activity can link to learning!

Page 82

sample activity linked to learning
Sample activity linked to learning!
  • Have a READING night where teachers share a book with families and discuss reading strategies giving all families a book and bookmark for their child! Share with families how to read/discuss a book with their child.
  • Link this READING event to a brief PTO/PTA business meeting with a student performance.
tips for linking to learning
Tips for Linking to Learning

Do Less

Displaying student work, along with scoring rubrics

Contacting families regularly about student progress – ex. Friday folders, notes, phone calls

Math, literacy, & STEM events

Offering student-led family conferences, where students discuss their work and assess it quality

Featuring teacher-made bulletin boards with themes such as “Autumn Colors”

Calling home only when students misbehave or are in trouble

Focusing on student behavior and shortcomings at parent-teacher conferences

Do More

Page 84

help parents understand what s happening in the classroom

Help Parents Understand What’s Happening in the Classroom

Common Core – How the curriculum has changed & what this means for their child

Terms new to parents– differentiated instruction, Balanced Literacy, text-to-text connections, etc.

How will students be assessed and what are rubrics?

Page 85

ideas for going deeper linking to learning
Ideas for Going Deeper Linking to Learning
  • Classroom Visits – “Check out the Classroom” days – help families feel welcome:
  • Show how the room set-up encourages learning (Desks arranged in groups, quiet areas for different learning styles, carpet, rocking chair, low lighting)
  • Learning Centers – word walls, classroom library, science, math, etc.
  • Demonstrate how students work together cooperatively and critique each other’s work
  • Show how rubrics/scoring guides are used

*These visits can happen throughout the year during the day or at special family night events such as curriculum night.

Pages 85-86

ideas for going deeper linking to learning1
Ideas for Going Deeper Linking to Learning

Initial Class Meeting/Open House/Curriculum Night

  • Talk about your approach to teaching using the Common Core & Brainstorm ways they can support their child at home. Use this time to build relationships.
  • Send home class schedules, supply lists, informational forms.

Page 87

ideas for going deeper linking to learning2
Ideas for Going Deeper Linking to Learning

Subsequent Class Meetings/Family Events

  • Cover Specific Subjects and Raise Expectations
  • Devote one class meeting to each subject – reading, writing, math, etc.
  • Model how you teach a lesson to students for parents.
  • Explain an assignment and give parents their students work.
  • Discuss the standard the assignment addressed.
  • Show them the scoring guide/rubric for the assignment.
  • Discuss how grades relate to the standard.
  • Talk about how parents can use scoring guides/rubrics to discuss student work at home.

Page 87

mid year parent discussion conference
Mid-Year Parent Discussion/Conference
  • Ask parents what they think is going well in terms of their child’s learning.
  • Ask if their child is having any problems or concerns.
  • Compare this experience in the classroom.
  • Ask parents what you could do to help them work with their child at home.

Page 89

tips for opening the classroom to latino families
Tips for Opening the Classroom to Latino Families
  • Have a translator to help with events
  • Have parents borrow books from the library so their child can read to them in English
  • Purchase books in Spanish so that families can read to their children.
  • Have home visits/conferences with a translator to give one on one help

Page 89

put student work front and center
Put Student Work Front and Center
  • Is there clear evidence that all students are expected to learn at a high level?
  • Posting student work in the hallways and classrooms is a great way to convey this information.
put student work front and center1
Put Student Work Front and Center

Try these tips for displaying work…

Post the following:

  • Make it clear what the assignment was
  • What were students supposed to learn from it?
  • What standards were students supposed to meet?
  • Include a scoring guide/rubric
  • Display student work that is “Proficient”
  • Change the display often – have volunteers or students help post work/displays

Pages 92-93

put student work front and center2
Put Student Work Front and Center

Ideas for Exhibiting Work

  • At the book fair, show books that students have “published” and have a time that students read their works
  • At PTO/PTA meeting/Spring family Event- have parents take sample EOG test at EOG night
  • Discuss how the test questions are different from the ones parents took when they were in school

Pages 92-93

put student work front and center3
Put Student Work Front and Center

Using Portfolios

  • “A portfolio is a collection of a student’s work. It may be the best pieces across different subjects or a variety of examples from one subject, such as writing or science.”

Page 93

put student work front and center4
Put Student Work Front and Center

Using Portfolios

Whenever showing student work, try to relay this information to families:

  • What are students learning? Why is it important to learn this? How will they use it?
  • How are we helping students do work that meets high standards?
  • What does good work for your child’s age and grade level look like?
  • How many students are working at a proficient level? How do we know?
  • What is the school doing to improve achievement? What can families do?

Pages 93-94

communicate regularly with families about learning
Communicate Regularly with Families about Learning

Look closely at how your school communicates with families:

“When families can work closely with teachers, their children adjust to school better, attend more regularly, and stay in school longer.”

  • Have full-circle conversations: For EX.
  • On Mondays, teachers give students an assignment, along with a scoring guide to explain what level of work meets the standard.

Page 95

communicate regularly with families about learning1
Communicate Regularly with Families about Learning

Look closely at how your school communicates with families:

  • Students work in groups or on their own, critiquing each other’s work.
  • On Friday, students take home a folder of their work and explain how they did their work according to the scoring guide.
  • Parents discuss the work with the children. Comments are made between home and school.
  • Teachers ask students to revise their work and send it home with a final grade.

Page 95

communicate regularly with families about learning2
Communicate Regularly with Families about Learning


  • Newsletter articles could give parents better information about what students are learning, how well they are doing, and what parents can do to help them.

Page 96

newsletter example
Newsletter Example
  • Next Thursday, a noted naturalist, photographer, and lecturer will make a presentation, “Primate Safari,” at the library.
  • Add: Students are learning that plants and animals have features that help them live in different settings. Ask your child what they noticed about the animals. How do tusks, claws, body shape, and color help animals hide, find food, and protect themselves?

Page 96

communicate regularly with families about learning3
Communicate Regularly with Families about Learning

Family Learning Events

  • Explain what skills students are learning in class.
  • Demonstrate a learning activity for parents and explain how the activity will develop those skills.
  • Give materials to families to take home to reinforce the skill.

Page 97

communicate regularly with families about learning4
Communicate Regularly with Families about Learning

Wow! AHA moment!

“When linking their newsletters and flyers to learning, schools often realize that activities they schedule year after year aren’t directly related to what students are actually doing in class.”

Page 97

parent teacher conferences that include students
Parent-Teacher Conferences that include students
  • Develop an education checkup card for parents & students to bring with them…List questions that parents can ask such as:
  • Is my child performing at a proficient level (up to standard) in basic skills? If not, is my child above or below? If it is below, what is your plan for helping my child catch up? How can I help?

Pages 98-99

parent teacher conferences that include students1
Parent-Teacher Conferences that include Students
  • What do my child’s test scores show? What are his/her strengths and weaknesses?
  • Can we go over some examples of my child’s work? Will you explain your grading standards?
  • Does my child need extra help in any area (including adjusting to school)? What do you recommend? How can we work together to help my child?

Pages 98-99

parent teacher conferences that include students2
Parent-Teacher Conferences that include Students
  • Does my child do all the assigned work, including homework?
  • Does my child seem to like school and get along with classmates?
  • Have you noticed any changes in my child over the year?

Pages 98-99

parent teacher conferences that include students3
Parent-Teacher Conferences that include Students

Remember to include the students in the conference. Students can present portfolio work and assess their progress in part 1 of the conference and the teacher can guide them and share grades and test scores in part 2 of the conference.

Pages 100-101

use student a chievement d ata to design p rograms for families
Use Student Achievement Data to Design Programs for Families
  • Focus programs & activities for families on student skills from collected data – ex. If reading is weak, adopt literacy as a major theme.
  • Target extra help for students – give parents information to help their child at home or find a tutor.
  • Engage families in school improvement – Give families the school report card and help them understand it.

Pages 102-103

update the family school compact
Update the Family-School Compact
  • All Title I Schools required to update yearly
  • Should focus on learning
  • Should describe:
  • How parents, school staff, and students will share the responsibility for improving student progress.
  • How the school and families will build a partnership to help children meet high standards and communicate regularly.

Page 103

update the family school compact parent pledge examples
Update the Family-School CompactParent Pledge Examples

Old-style compact

Limit TV to one hour a day and ask my child to write a report on our favorite program

Use reading and math materials the school sends home each week to help my child

Limit TV watching time

Keep in contact with school once a month

Compact linked to learning

Page 104

update the family school compact student pledge examples
Update the Family-School CompactStudent Pledge Examples

Old-style compact

Work on math and reading skills at home, using the materials my teacher sends home

Complete my homework

Compact linked to learning

Page 105

update the family school compact teacher pledge examples
Update the Family-School CompactTeacher Pledge Examples

Old-style compact

Send home learning materials weekly in reading and math

Provide the books and necessary supplies for education

Compact linked to learning

Page 105

update the family school compact1
Update the Family-School Compact
  • Use the compacts throughout the year during conferences and other meetings.
  • Update it yearly using the most recent data with input from families.

Page 106

collaborate with the community
Collaborate with the Community
  • Make sure community tutoring groups and after-school programs know about the school curriculum and understand standards and scoring guides.
  • Encourage after-school program staff and teachers to observe each other and share ideas and information about the students.
  • Invite after-school staff to attend professional development sessions to update and build their teaching skills.
  • Share the school’s data on student achievement and other outcomes.

Pages 106-107

improving student achievement
Improving Student Achievement
  • Linking programs and activities to what students are learning should be a basic strategy in any school’s improvement plan.
  • The most important factors in improving student achievement are:
  • The quality of the school’s academic program.
  • A strong focus on student learning
  • High expectations for students
  • The use of data to identify areas of weakness

Page 107

improving student achievement1
Improving Student Achievement
  • And don’t forget...

Building in family involvement will make your improvement plan more effective – and the benefits to students will last longer.

  • Complete Chapter 5 Homework at the link below:

If something happens to this link use the SCS staff tab and go to parent engagement to find resources for Chapter 5 homework and this PPT.

Send completed homework and sign-in sheets to