Back-to-school usually brings with it an open house for parents and guardians to come in meet the teacher and see the classroom. As a classroom teacher I always encouraged the students to come to the open house along with their parents*, giving the students the opportunity to act as docents or guides for the occasion, taking their parents through the various stations (usually 5 or 6) set up around the room.**

Before the event we practiced the proper way to conduct introductions, and the students would put that into practice at the open house. Introducing their parents to me, the teacher, was the last station to complete for the students to complete.

I always included one or more math components in the event, most regularly a graph. Earlier in the day or week the students and I would make a graph of an opinion question (e.g., favourite pasta, sport, or singer). Once the graph was created we would use math to investigate the data (math applicable to the grade level of the students: from simple “How many more…?” and “Which was preferred most?” kinds of questions for younger students to “What percentage of students preferred…?” kinds of questions for older students.)

The graph and what we learned from the data would be displayed at the open house, and the students were to discuss it with their parents. Additionally we asked the parents to participate in creating a new graph — we put the same question put to them. I always asked the students to predict ahead how they thought the parents’ graph would be similar to the students’ graph, and how they thought the two would be different. The day after the open house we would investigate the data again and compare our predictions.

*note: All my experience as a classroom teacher was in schools designated “inner city” with a transient student population. I always invited my students to come to the open house on their own, even if their parents/guardians could not come. I also made sure a few of my own friends were there that evening, near the classroom, so that any student who had no adult with them could still have the experience of acting as docent to one of my friends.

** note: Other stations set up for the evening included things like these: explaining our classroom behaviour contract; discussing our goals for the year; demonstrating some of the math “thinker tools” (manipulatives); demonstrating a simple science experiment.

I hope you will try making your open house an interactive experience!

Mathematically yours,

Carollee