During my first year as a PYP classroom teacher I kept parents informed about our unit of inquiry by posting some basic information and classroom photos on the class webpage. I put the central idea, lines of inquiry and learning outcomes up the week before we started a new unit and added photos and short descriptions of our classroom activities at the end of each week. I did have a fair number of parents let me know that they really appreciated the posts, though I quickly realised that many parents never logged in to the website and missed out. While I certainly felt that I had done my job and provided the information and that it was up to the parents to keep up to date, I still felt a need to improve the reach so that all the families got to see what we were doing.
That’s why, in my second year, I added a display in the hallway outside our classroom with a unit overview. I picked a good sized display board and created a Unit Overview to post in the middle, leaving the rest of the board empty. As the unit went on, I printed out photos of our activities and added them around the unit overview.
The students began each day with looking at the display board to check for new photos, dragging their family and friends over to show the new pictures and discuss the activity. I realised that only using the online method had not only not reached all the parents, it had not reached the students! They were incredibly proud and engaged with the display, often asking if they could take certain photos home when the display came down.
As for the parents, those that waited with their children in the morning, or waited for them in the afternoon, began to use the display to pass time, looking at the photos and reading through the Unit Overview. They would discuss the photos and Overviews with each other and point out the display when grandparents and family friends came by. I even observed parents photographing the display to send it on to other family members!
The combination of the display and the web page, now implemented as standard across the school, meant that the information reached a wider section of the class community. I even added the Unit Overview to the webpage to allow parents to download and share.
I also used the Unit Overview as section dividers in the students’ portfolios, keeping them organised and ensuring that if a teacher, student or parent ever looks back at the old portfolios they have a context for the items kept in it.
The Unit Overview is a great addition to my classroom and is definitely here to stay! If you think it could be a good addition to your classroom, head on over to my TPT store where the Unit Overview Handout Templates (including mini Key Concept Keys clip art) is available as a flash freebie until 5 August.