On Tuesday, March 8th, Jerome Middle School held its first official "Family Literacy Night." The goal of the evening was to get parents in to the school to interact with their children in a different way than the normal Parent Teacher Conference setting. I would say that for our first event, it was a success!
Half of our teaching staff planned the events for the evening, while I was in charge of the "refreshments." In addition to literacy activities, our Choir director held a dress rehearsal of the upcoming school musical and our Art teacher displayed "Art of the Trimester." At the end of the evening, our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands also performed a concert in the gym. Quite the packed evening!
Remember the Field of Dreams saying - "If you build it, they will come."? Well, if you feed them hot dogs, chips, a cookie, and water, they will come too! I am happy to report that we served close to 280 hot dogs that evening! We even had some students show up without parents - to eat and enjoy interacting with their teachers in a different way.
We had multiple literacy activities throughout the building. To entice students and parents to head down and try some of the activities out, we gave away "raffle" tickets for participation. Five students received Barnes and Noble gift cards from those tickets. The literacy activities included the following:
1. A Book Swap - weeks before the 8th, students began bringing in books to trade - they got a ticket for each book they brought. During Family Literacy Night, students/parents brought their tickets in to "buy" new books with. This was probably one of the most popular activities of the evening.
2. Game Rooms - Two rooms included board games - some well known like Scrabble - others not as well known, but still as fun!
3. Funglish - a game in which players had to use idioms to have other players guess what word or saying they had.
4. Spin a Yarn - participants got a story starter, and then had to "spin" a story until they ran out of yarn. Laughter could be heard down the hall from this room.
5. Are you Smarter than a Middle Schooler? - This game utilized Mouse Mischief, a PowerPoint add-on, that allowed multiple players. Most of the questions dealt with grammar, the writing process, and other language based knowledge MS students use on a daily basis. It was fun seeing parents and students grappling with the questions.
The evening lasted two hours or so, and we had great feedback from staff and parents alike. Staff really enjoyed watching students interact with their parents in non-stressful activities. They were able to see a different side of their students. In fact, I would say that students were able to see a different side of their teachers as well. The teachers were laughing and having as much fun as the parents and students.
We also got great feedback from parents and students too. Parents appreciated the time and effort that was put into Literacy night. They enjoyed the variety of activities - including the art, music, and dinner. They also saw this as something special just for them - something different just conferences. Students enjoyed the technology game (Mouse Mischeif), watching parts of the musical dress rehearsal, and the hot dogs. Everyone's favorite was the book swap.
As I reflect on the evening, the best part was seeing the smiles on the faces of parents, students, and staff. All involved were having a great time, and learning a little about literacy at the same time. I look forward to our next Family Night in April!