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Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Back to School Night Game

Dear Katie,

Before the age of social media, the best forum to give your students' parents a taste of your classroom was doing it through Back to School Night.  For a few years, I created a VH-1 Pop Up Video themed PowerPoint presentation complete with the popping bubble sound.  The presentation I am creating this year is incorporating aspects of my baseball theme, gamified classroom to the parents.

As parents walk into the room, they will receive a "baseball card that will give them information about the classroom, including my email, website, and positive quotes from former students about the World History Athletic Club (the name for my baseball themed classroom) and a "ticket" where they can share any important information about their child.

As they walk into the classroom, projected on the screen will be a carousel of their children's "digital baseball cards" that they created the first days of school to allow me to know them better.  On the card, other than their picture, will be facts they love to share with others and their thoughts on they believe is the best way to engage them educationally.

Typically, teachers have about 8 minutes to share information.  Some parents want to know more about the person in front of the classroom, some want to know what their child be will be learning, others the amount of homework and big projects that will be completed at home, and then there are those parents who just want to know the processes of your classroom.  In order to hit all of this within the time frame minutes, the bulk of the information will be given through videos that can be accessed through the class website.

A hurdle is to convince parents that "academic" doesn't mean straight rows & lecture, but that games can be an effective way to encourage engagement.  In order to demonstrate this, we will run one of the games we play in my class. I have created a Kahoots game (highly recommend, find out more at kahoot.it) for my parents to play.  The beginning questions are in the format that resembles a push poll, where the question is asked in a way to present information to the person being asked and is more important than the respondent's answer.   One of my questions is, "In this class, students sit in...".  The answer is TEAMS and some time after the question will be taken to discuss the role the teams play in the class (more than just to have them for the games).  The last few questions will come from the actual topics their child will be learning in class that year.

It takes some planning, but I remember the old adage, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression", so make your Back to School Night presentation a strong one.  But don't waste all your work for that night by not backing it up with continued excellence throughout the year.  I am sure you will not.

Best Wishes to In Your First Back to School Night!

Uncle Kevin

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