Open house happens about three weeks into school. Open house runs like a mini-day, with parents traveling around the building for 10 minute classes while following the students daily schedule. It does not allow time for question and answers but more of a "overview" of your class. I tend to focus on philosophy and why I do what I do. The keynote presentation is below that I use, but several cool things happened last night.
1. A parent from last year came in to tell me how my class had changed her daughter. She is a "history Junky" now and the the mom credits the middle age webquest as having the largest impact. I even got a hug:)
2. A student last year came and told me, "every unit starting with Digital Footprints, was the best unit I have had in school up to that point. I just loved everything about your class" --See her "What was 7th grade like?" project.
3. Three parents came up after my presentation and talked with me how they have had 20-30 minute conservations with their children about open, closed and essential questions. One mom explained how she used these questions as a HR person. She was so happy her daughter was learning life skills.
4. One parent, new to the USA, came up and told me how her son came home after the first day of school and said that my lecture on How we study history (post on this lesson), was the best lecture he had every heard and how he keeps talking about it three weeks later.
Not to mention many, many short comments on the ideas I was presenting and positive things students are saying at home. So, what's the point. These are middle schoolers. They are not college freshman, and content is not the only goal. I talk a great deal about the rounding of the child, that few if any of my students will become professional historians, and that memorization (for most) just does not create long term learning. Most parents want to hear this, but more importantly they want their kids to grow as people, not just as test subjects (I know I do as a father of a 7th grader right now). They want their child to grow up with character and concern for others. They want to raise "good kids" not "good test takers". I was excited after I left open house. I often question my own ideas and methods, as the pressure to conform to "state" standards, methods, and pace pushes me down. Last night was a night to rejoice as my consumers made it clear that what I am doing is what they want and they love the results they are seeing.
As the saying goes, "Party on Garth". Cheers, Garth