I remember Luz’s eyes welling up with tears when she found the publishing party invitation in her mailbox mid-year. She was on-track to finish her writing by the end of the unit. What could be upsetting her?
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“My mom’s not going to be able to come to the publishing party,” she said.
“How do you know?” I asked. After all, I was giving a week’s notice about the date and time.
“She works at 1:30 p.m. She can’t take off of work to come.”
“Oh,” I said. I had thought about what was best for my class’s schedule, but I hadn’t thought about what might be good for the parents’ schedules. I made a mental note to talk to Luz’s mom when she came to pick her up at 3:30 p.m.
Later that afternoon, we devised a plan that seemed to work for everyone. I would plan the next publishing party two weeks in advance at the beginning of the school day. This would give Luz’s mom ample time to (a) Tell her boss she needed to come in late one day, and (b) Miss a small amount of work time since she had to drop Luz off at school anyway.
While early mornings are prime learning time in all classrooms, I realized I needed to be flexible so I could include as many students’ families as possible in writing celebrations. The interaction with Luz’s mom also made me realize that if family members don’t show up at publishing celebrations, it doesn’t mean they’re uninterested. It might mean they cannot get there at the time you schedule the publishing party. I mean, how many people can leave their job for two hours in the middle of the day each and every month? One way around this is by scheduling publishing parties at the local library or in a community room in the evenings or on a weekend (Ayres and Shubitz, 2010, 47-48).
If your personal schedule doesn’t permit evening or weekend parties, then consider having students celebrate their writing virtually so they can share it with their family members live or after school hours. Here are a few ideas:
- Publish podcasts using SoundCloud.
- Encourage parents to leave comments not just for their child, but for their child’s classmates as well.
- Videotape students reading their pieces aloud and post the videos on your class blog.
- Again, encourage parents to leave comments.
- Use #comments4kids if your class tweets and you want to invite a larger audience.
- Use Google Hangout for parents who would like to watch the party live.
- I believe you can only have up to 10 people on at one time.
Keep in mind: There are parents who don’t have access to technology. Therefore, suggest the local library if you try options one or two.
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.