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INBOX Ideas - Previous Revision

Connecting Families to What Is Happening in Schools
NCTE INBOX 9-24-13

Parent-teacher conferenceIn classrooms, faculty lounges, and schools across the country, conversations are taking place about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and what it means to be college- and career-ready. As educators in the midst of these shifts in our own practices, it is also important to think about how these changes are being communicated to families. What is essential to share?

It seems best to keep it simple. Better yet, our challenge is to show not tell as we involve families in the literacy learning happenings within our schools on an ongoing basis.

Here's a group of educators that didn't need to tell families about the importance of reading and writing more complex texts across the disciplines because they are showing it:

  • Meet first-grade teacher, Jane Fung. She made notebooking a regular part of her instructional practices. These notebooks will become a treasured part of each child's school career long after first grade.

  • Julie Wollman, a and NCTE author, shows us how to get started with family message journals as a means for students to write to an authentic audience about their learning. 

  • Because the ways we teach writing are often quite different from the ways most of our students' parents learned to write, it is important to think about productive ways to get families involved as strong allies for excellent writing instruction. The authors of "Inviting Parents In: Expanding Our Community Base to Support Writing" describe workshops and other methods for getting parents productively involved in their children’s literacy development.

  • Watch as a parent who is in a Community of Practice with teachers shares what it means to learn, talk, and design activities as a full CoP member with teachers.

When many of our students' families think about supporting children as readers, the images in their minds are limited to books. Again our challenge is to make sure they are seeing a wide variety of texts. Interested in learning from others studying these same topics?
NCTE Annual Convention

Join us at NCTE's Annual Convention where educators are sharing their work on:


Literacy in Learning ExchangeJoin us on the Literacy and Learning Exchange where groups of educators just like you are sharing their work on a daily basis. Here are two examples:
  • Consider following the Westminster 50 Family Engagement Partnership Group as they embark with the goal of partnering with families around academic goals. 
  • Listen to this On Demand recording of a virtual practice exchange among groups interested in strengthening the connection between in-school and out-of-school literacies with families as partners.


ReadWriteThink.orgJoin us over at on the Parent & Afterschool Resources site for engaging ways to introduce children to reading or to encourage teens to write. Need some age-appropriate book suggestions or rainy day activities? These materials are your answer—all of them created by experts to be fun, educational, and easy to use outside of school.

What role do parents play in your school?


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A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts