Another great idea that I got from Beth Newingham is Mystery Reader. It is a great, non-threatening (for both parent, as well as the teacher) way to involve parents in your classroom. It would really work at any grade level and would work just as well if there was multiple grade levels in the building that do it. I used it with my fourth grade classroom, but think my first grade teaching friends would really like this idea as well. Parents sign-up for a slot (about 20 minutes) to come in and share a favorite book with the class. The week leading up to their visit, the teacher reads one clue that points to the reader’s identity. I had it set up to e-mail a reminder to the parent a week and a half out, reminding them of their appointment and asking them to e-mail their clues. Clues usually started general (I’ve always had a pet), to more specific as the week wore on.
There are so many benefits to this project, I can’t even name them all. Kids loved guessing who was coming and it was always amazing to kids if there was a Mystery Reader who stumped them all. We had aunts, grandparents, the school principal, guidance counselor, special education teachers, etc. as well as parents over the year. It really helped build the classroom community as students found out their were similarities (or differences) not only between them, but between their parents. Parents LOVED having a genuine, authentic experience in the classroom. Some would bring their favorite childhood book, their children’s favorite childhood book, a book that related to what we were studying, or one related to their profession.
Things I had planned on doing a little differently this year, was incorporating Franki Sibberson’s suggestion of having parents bring their “stack” of current reads. Cookbooks, magazines, book club books, how-to manuals-all great ways to help students see that reading if for life and include so many different things!
Click the link to see Beth Newingham’s Invite and personalize it for your use. If you still aren’t sure it will be the best thing since sliced bread, try it once a month, once a quarter, have other staff members be the mystery readers during their planning period. Mystery Readers-it does a classroom good!