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How To Get Students to Share Weekly Newsletters With Families

We started back up on Thursday and Friday and spent the days reviewing expectations and getting back into the groove of school…and now we have another day off [doing the happy dance].  I’m way up here in Minnesota and Sunday night is supposed to be -22 with windchill into the -50s [teeth chattering].  As a result, Governor Dayton has called off school for the whole state!  So, to start of my post, as I sit comfortably knowing that tomorrow (Sunday) is really like my Saturday, I’m linking up with Farley at Oh’ Boy, Fourth Grade with January’s edition of “Currently”.

Currently Linky

Alrighty, on to our 2 days back this past week.  Both days were a mixture of reviewing expectations and some fun stuff!  Let’s start with the fun stuff first!  After being out for 3 days before Winter Break with Pneumonia, I came back to school a little discombobulated and unprepared.  My fabulous colleague, Kelli over at Tales of a Teacher, came to the rescue sharing many of her resources with me!  She created a Winter Break Buzz Book for her students.  It is a nifty little tri-fold brochure for students to complete telling all about their break!  It was THE perfect thing for morning work and for any down time over Thursday and Friday!  Click any of the pics below to visit her TPT store and get yours!

Winter Break Buzz Book

Winter Break Buzz Book Winter Break Buzz Book

On to the next activity!  Our school is an “RC” School (Responsive Classroom) and January is considered “Re-Month”.  Basically a time to review, remember, and remodel school expectations.

I wanted to review all the components of our Reader’s Workshop (mini-lesson, independent reading, how to use our library, how to choose “Just-Right” books, etc.).  Reviewing all of these things had the potential to be a very boring, mind-numbing, kids-staring-at-me-with-blank-faces-while-I-talk-on-and-on-and-on kind of lesson.  However, I made it a bit more exciting (and less work for me) by having the students work in groups and do all the work themselves…haha!

First, I took big pieces of 9×12 construction paper and wrote one area to review on each piece.  I ended up with seven pieces of paper each labeled with the following areas:

  • Read Aloud/Snack
  • Mini-Lesson
  • Independent Reading
  • Using the Library
  • Small Groups
  • Choosing “Just-Right” Books
  • Turn and Talks

Students worked in groups to review and remember everything they know about the expectations for each area.  After 2-3 minutes at one poster, the groups rotated to the next and added on.  Here they are!  Hard at work!

Reviewing Reader's Workshop Expectations Reviewing Reader's Workshop Expectations Reviewing Reader's Workshop Expectations Reviewing Reader's Workshop Expectations

After all groups had rotated to every poster, we had the posters below!  Each group used a different colored marker so they could see all the different groups’ contributions!  They really do know what is expected of them – they don’t need me yacking to remind them!

Reviewing Independent Reading Expectations Reviewing Mini Lesson Expectations Reviewing Partner Talk Expectations Reviewing Expectations for Using the Library Reviewing Expectations for Choosing Just Right Books Reviewing Small Group Expectations

Finally to wrap up this post, I was reflecting on how well I know my students.  I know them very well academically, but I want to know them more personally!  Then all of a sudden my mind wandered to my weekly newsletter.  I was thinking about how often students actually show it to their families.  Then my wandered again to my morning message and how I wanted it to be more interactive.

I hope I am not the only one who has a mind that goes fifty million different directions within minutes!  My mind is a busy place…but it somehow put all those thoughts together and came up with a brilliant idea!

I quick whipped up a one-page Word document that said “Our Favorite School Subjects” at the top.  Here’s what I did:

  1. Students were directed to write their favorite subject and their name in the Morning Message (there is the solution to making the morning message more interactive).
  2. I could quickly see some of my students’ favorite subjects (there is the solution to wanting to know my students more personally).
  3. Then I took the piece of paper with all their responses and copied it back-to-back with our newsletter!  My students were so excited to see their own written responses on the back!  I encouraged them to go home and show their families (there is the solution to increasing the amount of families that see the weekly newsletter).

Boom…three problems solved with one idea!  Plus, what a fun way for families to learn more about all the kids in our class!

Class Sharing Sheets

Of course I wanted to “fancy-it-up”…and because I often start these little things and then (unintentionally) abandon them, I wanted to create all my “topics” ahead of time so that I have no excuses for not continuing this!

Voilà – this is the result:

Class Sharing Sheets

I am going to try the “free for the first 48 hours” thing on Teachers Pay Teachers with all my new products!  Check them out for yourself and spread the word if you think others would like this idea!

Time for bed!


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