Friday, March 1, 2013

Sharing Writing with Parents

Okay, so I told Ruth on Tuesday when she was at my school that I was going to participate in this year's Slice of Life.....but I'm nervous that I won't live up to the challenge!!  However, I'm willing to try because I need to write, write, write.  So, here goes:

Sometimes, I suffer from insomnia!  There are many nights when I wake up at 1:00 in the morning and can't go back to sleep until 5:30.  The problem with this is that I need to get up at 6:00 to get ready for work....being a Principal in an elementary school.  Although I tend to have LOTS of energy and enthusiasm, I start to burnout after weeks of this happening.  Why can't I sleep?!  Well, because I'm either reading a book, or my mind is thinking about how I can better support my students and staff to be the best they can be.  This is what I've been losing sleep over for the past two weeks:

When it comes to Writers Workshop, how do we share everything that is going on in the classroom with parents, while at the same time ensuring that the materials come back to school so the students can continue to work on their writing every single day?

Several of my teachers are afraid to send "works in progress" home each week for one of two reasons:
1.  The parents will give TOO much support to the child.
2.  The pieces of writing won't come back to school.

So, I'm curious what other people do to share the Writers Notebooks, science notebooks, and other pieces of writing with parents.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas!


  1. Welcome to SOL! Oh, the trials of waking up in the middle of the night . . . and then our minds start racing. I have some success with putting on my buddy eye pads. There's something about total darkness that helps my mind to blank out all the distractions.
    Several of my colleagues have portfolio night when students share their work with parents. The students are totally in charge of the evening and they receive training from their teachers. It's amazing to see the evening in action!

  2. Glad you are joining the SOLC. Great post. I get the same problem from time to time waking up and not being able to go back to sleep with lots and lots of stuff rolling around in my head. Often I end up finally falling back to sleep about 20 minutes before my alarm goes off.

    Good question. I don't think you can share everything that goes on in the classroom, but you can pick and choose. Teachers could have students mark five things from their notebook that they want to share with those at home. Then the teacher can make a copy of those pages and let them bring them home. I like to send home writing with as assignment for the parents to comment on it (right there on the bottom or back of the writing) and send it back. The students enjoy when I read out loud to the class what their parents wrote.

  3. Hi Lindsay!
    I'm glad to find you here and am looking forward to writing along with you this month. I'll have to check back and see what others say in response to your excellent question. :)

    I'd also like to introduce you to my friend Kari. She is a principal in IN and is slicing this month too. The two of you remind me of each other so I thought you might be interested in her blog. The link to today's slice is:

    I hope you get a good night's sleep tonight!

  4. Hi Lindsay,
    Welcome to the world of slicing. Your piece throws up an interesting question. Quite some years ago, my students and I were having a problem with the way parents dived on student pieces when they were taken home. I discussed this with the class and we decided to create a stamp that said, 'DRAFT COPY, NOT FOR PUBLICATION.' and parents began to realize that these 'raw products' were works in progress and deserved to be viewed in that light. Students stamped their work as if too say, -this is mine, please respect my work.
    We have to trust our student writers when they take their writing home. If we create a strong sense of community around writing and place a value on it- it will come back. And if it doesn't, it provides a chance to discuss the significance of lose. Parent won't take over where student writers have genuine ownership of the writing task. This is something we teach as well. That sense of authentic purpose in the writing that is being created.
    Good question...

  5. Oh yes, a great question. Writing offers such a challenge and my principal and I were just talking about how hard it is for "other" grown-ups to just wait, watch and wonder about their child or student as a writer. Often patience is lost and over support begins. I stress to my parents that in order to recognize the progress your child is making you need to watch them in action. I send home blank materials, instead of work in progress materials. I stress that perfection is not the idea, but instead watching the process and allowing their child to teach them something about writing. Teach them about illustrating ideas and thinking. Teach their parent how to be a listener as they talk through their ideas about to touch the page. It doesn't work for everyone but it is usually a start. (FYI: I teach kindergarten). I also look forward to visiting you each day while you venture on this surprising and exciting journey of writing each day. You will be amazed.

  6. Hi Lindsay! So proud of you for taking the challenge! I suggest you check out I hadn't quite figured out the best ways to use it as a middle school teacher but your post gives me a great idea. Snap a photo of the work in progress and send it home via e-mail or some other networking system your school might have. Parents get to be a fly on the wall but not a fly in the ointment! Hahaha! (I made myself chuckle! Sorry!)
    Looking forward to more posts!