When parents ask their children, "What did you learn in school today?" many students typically reply with a simple "nothing." Teachers and parents know this response does not represent an accurate snapshot of what actually occurs in school. However, this simple scenario represents a gap in communication between teachers, students, and families.
As a middle school ELA teacher, one way I promote dialogue between students and their families is by creating homework assignments that require students to present their projects to parents while obtaining positive and constructive feedback. For example, if students are preparing for an important oral presentation they would be tasked to practice their speech in front of a parent or adult family member. In order to verify students rehearsed their presentations at home, I give students a "Family Member Feedback Form." The form gives families a brief overview of the assignment or project and a rubric is provided for parents to give feedback in specific areas such as use of language, ideas, or structure.
Such assignments encourage students to engage in dialogue with parents that involves depth and breadth. Now parents have a vehicle to ask more targeted questions about key concepts covered in class. Secondly, such dialogue helps parents stay connected to teachers. If parents have questions about their child's academic progress, they now have a platform to voice their questions or concerns. Consistent communication is then cultivated.