Open House: Why I made the PARENTS do math

One of the LONGEST days of the school year is Open House. School is from 7:05-2:25 and then Open House is from 5:30-7:45. The window between allows for just enough time to leave campus and get caught in rush hour traffic or stay on campus and go stir crazy!

Our parents follow their students schedule to "get a glimpse of their students' day," with the bell ringing every 10 minutes. In years past, I have talked about the syllabus and the course, but this year I started to think about how I really wanted the parents to know what it would be like to sit in my Algebra 1 class - so I made them do math!

We do A LOT of puzzles in my class - it's my favorite practice structure. So far this year we have done Solving Equations with Symbols (on the first day of school) and Distribute and Combine Like Terms to Solve Equations. Most of my parents drag their teenagers along  bring their child with them, so I greeted the child at the door and asked them to explain the puzzle to their parents. Just like in class, how I have students explain things to their peers. I had the picture of the finished puzzle on the board. Some parents were reluctant to start, but so are some of my students, and with a little encouragement, they saw that they can do it. The puzzle is a simple one that reviews multiplication tables, so it's not math that was too complicated, but engaging in this activity allowed them to truly experience my class as a student.

The parents had fun, they talked with their children and other parents and worked together (just like their students). They celebrated when they completed the puzzle (just like we do in class), and they made and corrected errors (do you spy one in the pic above?). Most importantly, the parents saw that math - at least in my classroom - isn't something to be scared of. 

After they finished the puzzle (it took less than four minutes), I had plenty of time to review the important information about my class - my contact information, the dates of the state EOC, my homework policy, tutoring schedule, etc. Students who came with their parents earned a free homework pass!

At the end of the night, my feet and legs ached, and I left knowing that I would be right back in that classroom in less than 11 hours. I had two parents ask if they could take a copy of the puzzle home to do again with their student or younger student, three parents tell me their students have told them that I am the best math teacher they have ever had, and I had classes full of engaged parents, who maybe after their 10 minutes in my class, are a little less afraid of math.

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