"million words or less"

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by teresateaches, Aug 26, 2008.

  1. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    Aug 26, 2008

    Has anyone used this activity in their schools in Urban areas? I'm wondering if you have found it successful and if parents actually return the "assignment"?

    For anyone who might not know what i'm talking about, here is a link:

    http://www.middleweb.com/MWLISTCONT/MSLmillionwords.html
     
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  3. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Aug 26, 2008

    My school doesn't start until next week, but I do plan on handing this out to the parents to complete on parent night. I'll let you know how successful it is. :)
     
  4. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    I have successfully used this for the past three years, but I do work in a suburban district with lots of parent involvement. If you do send out the letter, what do you have to lose besides one sheet of paper per student?
     
  5. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    thanks for you replies! i'm a first year teacher this year and not really sure what will and won't work, but isn't that how we all start out?. I'm planning on trying it but also just hoping for a little words of wisdom from those who have used it successfully as well.
     
  6. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    LMBO!!!! I JUST finished doing it (as a parent) less than 2 minutes ago and this was the first post I found after going into AtoZ.
     
  7. really?

    really? Rookie

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    I don't teach in an urban school either, but I've used this every year. Some parents will tell you some really useful things. Of course, others won't fill it in. I just take whatever I get. I think it's worth it for the ones I do get back.
     
  8. Alisha

    Alisha Cohort

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    I was going to send it out too, but I'm waiting until the end of the first week so I don't add the how overwhelming it can be with all the material parents are getting.
    ...I should probably check with my team and make sure they don't do it too..lol.
     
  9. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    I would love to see samples of the letters people send home if you are willing to share. How do you gracefully say that you don't mind spelling or grammar errors in order to pull in those parents who might not do it for fear of being "graded"?
     
  10. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    My thing is this: I can't really say as much as I would like to say because my child will read it so it comes across really glowing.
     
  11. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    i read some parents put them in sealed envelopes...is that not an option for you? I would want parents to be honest, because sugar coating does me no good. Perhaps I could send home envelopes?
     
  12. Alisha

    Alisha Cohort

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    Aug 26, 2008

    Dear Parents,

    I know that you are busy but...

    I have a request/assignment just for you. In a MILLION WORDS or less, please tell me about your child. Anything you feel is important will help me better teach your child this year. Each child is special and unique in his/her own way. No one knows this better than you. Please share their likes/dislikes/fears/hopes/dreams/past successes/past failures... anything and everything.

    I understand you are busy; therefore, I will accept these any time during the month of September. You can either email me the assignment or send it to school with your child.

    This assignment is not graded; your child will not be penalized in any way if you do not send in this writing assignment. However, I hope you will choose to complete this for me and for your child. Anything you share with me will be held in the strictest confidence. I will never share it with anyone else without your permission.

    Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


    (actually if anyone has something I should add or take out let me know)
     
  13. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Here's what my son's teacher wrote,

    Dear Parent(s) or Guardians(s),

    Yes, you are getting a homework assignment! The reason: I want to do everything I can to get to know your child and to work with you to help your student have a successful year. This activity gives you a chance to tell me what you think I should know about your scholar.

    Your assignment is to tell me, in a million words or less, whatever you would like me to know about your child. Please include anything that you feel will help me to understand your child better. You know your child the best, so tell me what makes him or her so special!

    Take your time with this, but there must be a deadline. Please submit your response by Friday, August 29. You may send in your work with your student or you may email it to me at....

    I'm looking forward to a very exciting and productive year. I thank you for your input and involvement.

    Sincerely,
     
  14. MissNikki

    MissNikki Comrade

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    Aug 27, 2008

    I've used this idea the past three years, but also work in a suburban school with lots of parent involvement. I have had parents put it in envelopes or hand it to me directly. They have never had concerns about kids reading it and fluffing what they say as a result.
     
  15. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I just suggested this to my team teacher (as the Title 1 in the classroom, I don't have a ton of say in the assignments). My worry is that at least one of my kids is in a group home and I don't know who would be able to write her letter. We'll see.
     
  16. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    I like the idea a lot. "Million words or less" doesn't really put a lot of pressure on the parent, because no one expects to actually get to a million words. I don't see any reason the urbanness of the district would make it a bad idea. Even if you don't get full participation, you get valuable information on those who do participate.

    Though I've never been asked to do this, I have something already prepared in the event that a teacher asks (did I mention at some point that most parents are somewhat insane?). I can PM it to you if you like.
     
  17. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    Mine would probably come across as a lot less glowing if I knew my child was going to read it. Don't want them to get swelled heads, you know. . .:D
     
  18. turbodiva

    turbodiva Rookie

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    Be careful with it

    I have been using it for three years and this is the first year that it has been brought to my attention in a negative light. The diagnostician just came into tell me that some parents have been calling her about it. They think that they have to write a million words about their child. You may want to save some headaches and tell the parents that they really do not have to write a million words, just enough to tell you about their child.
     
  19. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    Of course, I have been known to underestimate the human capacity for innumeracy. Perhaps they have no idea just how many a million is, and why no one expects them to write that many.
     
  20. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    I think if I decided to do this I would address it to "parent or guardian" as I do for all of my home contacts. It is definitely a concern that there might be some students who would not have a parent to write, or who would not have a parent to write in English, so I would make it clear that it can come from grandparents or even older siblings if that's who they live with - any adult that knows them well. In my community that could also include pastors or social workers if necessary.

    As long as you stress to the kids that it's not for points, you're just trying to communicate with their parents/guardians/someone who is important to them, you'd probably be OK.
     
  21. kickatstars

    kickatstars Rookie

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    I did this two years ago. I only got a few back, but one of them was amazing--all about how the kid was her "miracle baby" and whatnot. In early October, the student was diagnosed with lymphoma and missed the rest of the school year because of his illness. I was so glad I got to hear the good things about this student, especially since I got so little time with him. (He did return the next year, but was only in my class for about 2 months).
     
  22. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    well, i decided to go ahead and do it and just see what happens. thanks for all your responses...

    BTW...are you in the Richmond area?
     
  23. agsrule!

    agsrule! Companion

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    This is my 3rd year doing this assignment. Within the first week of school, I have received more than half back from the students. I've had 5 come in envelopes, and two emails so far. They still have another week to return them, and hopefully more will. My district does not have a lot of parent involvment. This year there were changes to the district boundaries due to the opening of two new junior highs, and 1 elementary. I've realized after a week, and after seeing the returned essays, how much the demographics of my school has changed. First of all, I have only 34 girls out of 102 students. I would say that I have at least 90 percent hispanic students. Our campus used to be fairly even with caucasian and hispanic. I don't believe we are that way now. About half of the essays I've received are in Spanish. Last year I had 5 in Spanish. Now I get to spend time on the internet trying to translate them. I know some of the basic nouns in there, so it shouldn't be too difficult to get the gist of what it says. I do like reading them though. I read them 3 times a year; when they return them, around Thanksgiving, and again in the spring when I am getting burned out from TAKS crunch.
     
  24. kickatstars

    kickatstars Rookie

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    I'm about an hour north
     
  25. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    well i got one back one day later! that is encouraging! here is hoping to more coming back within the week. the kids seemed excited to take parents some homework!
     
  26. dbelmo

    dbelmo Rookie

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    I handed the assignment out to parents at Back To School night (one week before opening day) I has asked them to be turned by yesterday. WOW! Great things were said and conveyed to me. I will be sure to continue to do this every year. I have 44 out of 48 total to read this weekend!

    dbelmo
     
  27. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I think this is a great idea. Our school is private and the parents fill out a lot of forms each year. I feel they have a lot of chances to fill similar things out on a regular basis, but if I did not have those forms, I would do this!

    Great idea!
     
  28. msb

    msb Rookie

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    Sep 7, 2008

    Hi, this is my second year using "Million Words". I actually have it as an assignment along with the other forms I have sent out. I assign it the first day (usually) or second day of school. I tell the kids--sometimes ask them, if they would like homework or should I give their parent/guardian homework. I've received really good responses with them.

    For students whose parent/guardian who don't write/speak English, I have their child write down what they wrote. I think it was a 10 point assignment. Also, what really helps if you give them a few extra credit points if they turn it by a certain date. It's easier to read several of them if you do it that way. I think that works pretty well. I'd say 98% of the letters are positive...things I've found out such as what their child is interested in, their strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes even deaths in the family. I'll even take a short paragraph.

    Anyway, I usually have two turn in dates--one several days after assigning it, and the last turn in date on Back-to-School night. Usually, parents will bring them in on that night, and I'll ask them if they turned in their homework. It's always funny to ask them that--we all have a laugh before I start the Back-to-School presentation. :)

    They do appreciate your interest in their child, and it's usually a positive way to start communication with the parents.
     

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