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Learning Together - from The Messenger

March 4, 2020

The parents of Jennifer Yoder’s kindergarten students who were attending the Family Literacy Night at Cooper Elementary School Tuesday had two seating choices.

Tiny chairs or the colorful rug that Yoder has the children sit on each morning when they first come to school.

The carpet won.

There was even a white board behind her with a message of welcome, just like each morning.

Then the ‘day’ began, with a question just like the school day begins with.

“What do you have planned for this weekend?” she asked.

Yoder then shared what the students had been working on and then offered them some tips to engage and work with their children at home.

That was happening in Jeanna Gronbach’s classroom, too.

Her students had just gotten the results of their January Formative Assessment System for Teachers tests.

On average, she said, her first graders are doing well.

parents and student at table with teacher looking at data

“Three hours of our day is built around reading,” she said.

That can include individual one-on-one reading time and small group reading.

The students are also monitored each day to help identify any specific issues they might be having.

“One student might be having trouble with ‘th’ sounds,” she said. “We’ll gear their instruction to work on that.”

The evening also offered parents a chance to visit with their child’s teacher in much the same way they would during a parent/teacher conference.

Ethan Tjalsma, 8, got to look at several books while his parents, Kristen and Jon Tjalsma, visited with their son’s teacher, Kati Olson.

“This gives us a good idea of where he is,” Kristen Tjalsma said. “It also gives us a strategy to help improve his reading.”

They were very happy with his calculations.

“He’s doing really well in math,” Jon Tjalsma said.

One of the tools the parents were given to work with their students is called “echo reading.” The child reads a page, then gets a break as the parent reads the next page.

“We’re doing that at home,” Jon Tjalsma said. “We also got a new reading bingo game.”

Once the discussion was over, Ethan Tjalsma got to take home one of the brand new books on the table.

Olson, said the goal of the night was to encourage family engagement in the students’ learning process.

“We also want to share some reading to help make that home to school connection,” Olson said. “We’re sharing how parents can help to support them at home.”

Of course, there was plenty of fun during the night, too.

Each student got to complete an art project and enjoyed a slice of pizza.

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