Ideas for Using HEARD

Using HEARD at least once a week keeps families engaged and powers the engine of community-building. Engage your classroom families with the following ideas from teachers in our HEARD community.

The ideas in bold offer rich opportunities for community-building and supporting microdemocratic acts (decision-making and advocacy for students by caregivers) within your classroom or school community.

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Getting started:

  • Welcome message -- Invite families in with greetings like “Welcome to HEARD,” “Welcome Back to School,” “Welcome to First Grade,” or kick off a new month, year or marking period with a hello to your classroom or school community
  • Your teacher bio (in short form) -- Help families get to know you by sharing a fact, an anecdote, a photo or memory
  • Community icebreaker -- Lead families/caregivers to introduce themselves or respond to a “getting to know our community” question

Reoccurring:

  • "Picture of the Day," "Weekly Snapshot" or view of learning in action
  • Classroom update or milestone (academic, community-building, “look how we’ve grown!”)
  • Inspiration -- a quote, photo, meme, piece of artwork, anecdote
  • Homework assignment (as a photo/PDF), helpful tip or due date reminder
  • Newsletter -- Tip: Use the  “announcement” feature on HEARD's web platform for rich text editing.

Gaining family support in student learning:

  • Home-school connection -- Ideas, tips and thoughts on how to extend the learning at home (use the Home-School Connection prompt!)
  • Helpful tip -- Support on completing an assignment, activities families can try with their child at home, pointers for making at-home reading instructive 
  • Whole-family homework assignment or project
  • Student work sample, exemplar or rubric (so that families know what to expect as well as which pitfalls to avoid)
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Classroom help:

  • Request classroom supplies or volunteers --     Post your Amazon Wish List or schedule time with caregivers who hope to lend a hand
  • Post field trip updates, photos and thank chaperones for their time
  • Request to complete a poll or survey to hear caregivers thoughts, preferences, ideas
  • Share ways families can get involved in the classroom
  • Provide articles and links that…
    • encourage caregiver support
    • provide important rationales or resources
    • share information relevan t to the classroom community and/or topics of learning
  • Add a DonorsChoose project link

Community building:

  • Request for families to share their talents, languages or fun -- Invite caregivers to share music, special skills, an unconventional lesson or demonstration, a project, a recipe or cooking class, a read aloud or introduction to a world language
  • Make classroom celebrations -- Announce the “Table/Group/Student of the Month or Week” to the greater classroom community  (Bonus: Use the reward of being featured in a HEARD post to incentivize students to do their best work!)
  • Send out “This Day in History” or happy holiday message
  • Offer thanks to community members 
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Procedures and support:

  • Reminders -- of rules and procedures, due dates, important items to bring, whole school events, early dismissals or school closures, assessment info
  • Photos of any important handouts or school correspondence  
  • Classroom or school health advisory -- e.g. info about lice, the flu that is going around, etc.
  • Calendar updates
  • Correction or suggestion (or to share information that was missed)
  • Link to another class’s page (or to the school-wide page or calendar)
  • Safety updates