Parents’ Night

Show Don’t Tell

With parents, or anyone really, the best argument for comprehension-based teaching is to let them experience the process.  So less talking about our practices and more demonstration is always good.  Plus we only have 10 minutes so you can’t be long-winded!

This year for Parents’ Night I first told the parents this:

My name is Tina Hargaden and I am a big old nerd about language acquisition.  You guys know all about language acquisition – your children all acquired their first language from you, in most cases.  So in this class we are going to approach language acquisition the natural way, the way your children have already acquired their L1.  We are going to put the horse (understanding the language and using it in a real way) before the horse (grammar) and not the other way around, which is how most of us were taught.

I want to show you how I teach your kids, a glimpse into the classroom.  We are going to work together to use our imaginations to create an image right here on the carpet.  I need an artist to draw the object as we discover facts about it.  (Adults are so much less apt to volunteer for this, but I did get a kindly soul to help me out in every class!)

This worked well and then at the very end of class I told them that there is no homework, that kids have enough to do for other classes, that their grade is based on the communication that happens in class, and that for them at this beginning level, the communication is mostly listening and demonstrating comprehension.

Pics or it didn’t happen…here are the parents’ images:  a tiny white dog, a small green cap, a large happy blue hat, and a small red guitar.


This entry was posted in Beginning the Year, One Word Image, Parents, Uncategorized on by .

About Lanny Ball

For more than 23 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy and reading consultant in Northwestern Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

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