Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Recent Topic: Home-School Journals

Purpose of this blog: Review of interesting articles and ideas in English education journals, K-12.

10-second review: These elementary teachers initiated home-school journals. The process was not without its problems. But, all in all, parents, children and teacher “dialogued” and learned a lot about each other.

Title: “Writing A relationship: Home-School Journals.” AM Kay, et al. Language Arts (July 2010), 417-426.

Summary: One teacher sent the journals home on the first day of school asking parents to tell about the child. Another teacher had the children write about what they were learning in school and asked, What do you [the parent] remember about first grade? This teacher’s journals were weekend journals. Purpose was a dialogue involving parents, teacher and child.

However, some parents were not cooperative.

Quote: “For some families, other demands on their lives were such that they did not feel they had time to use the journals regularly, as was evidenced by the following entry, ‘I’m not trying to be mean but I have three kids. I don’t have time to answer your question. I work full time and am a full time mother so if it’s important or something I need to know I will write back.’ Amy immediately expressed her appreciation for the openness and honesty in this mother’s response and realized it could possibly be the voice for many who were silent and whose journals remained unreturned. In all of the classrooms, a few of the journals went home and were never seen again, usually without any explanation. Care must be given to not rely solely on the home-school journal as a panacea for healthy home-school relationshi8ps. As each teacher represented here realized, other means were sometimes needed to connect with families for whom the journal was not a preferred means of communication. These instances were few in number, but could not be overlooked.”

Comment: Concerns the teachers in this article did not address were grammar and spelling. I think if I were the teacher, I would deal with these concerns the way I deal with my e-mail. I try to make it correct, personally. But I never say anything to my correspondents about spelling or grammar, including children. I never criticize any one else’s mistakes in my e-mail. There’s a time and place for everything. The time to deal with grammar and spelling for the child is when I am teaching writing in the classroom. As for the adults at home, I NEVER criticize their writing. You’d scare them away forever. RayS.

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