On a Wednesday night in January, Warren G. Harding Middle School hosted its first Math and Literacy Night. Warren G. Harding is located in the Frankford area of Philadelphia and enrolls about 780 students. Math and Literacy Night was an event that had long been on Principal Mary Sanchez’s mind. She’d been trying to get if off the ground for a while, but nothing materialized until this year when everything just seemed to line up. Parents were on board; there was enough money in the budget; teachers and staff were eager to plan and participate; and students were excited to help out.
Attendees were greeted at a table, where they were asked to sign in and given the night’s agenda that explained what was set up at each table. They were also given a canvas bag so that they could fill it to the brim with free books. After all, it was Literacy Night! The evening would consist of a Winter Title I Parent Meeting, an opportunity to take a survey about school and family capacity building, a parent technology training, a calculator training, an overview of math standards, a read-aloud parent training, free books, a bike raffle, information about picture day, and a dinner buffet.
Once parents entered the cafeteria, they were directed to the buffet style spread consisting of pulled pork, chicken, Spanish rice and beans, salad, potato salad, and the most delicious ice cream cake anyone has ever tasted. The event hadn’t really started yet: parents were enjoying a little dinner and mingling with each other. Principal Sanchez joined the parents along with Harding’s Family Engagement Liaison, Jaime Serrano.
Soon, Principal Sanchez and Ms. Serrano took the opportunity to have Harding’s Winter Title I Parent Meeting, which provided an informal update on some of the progress the school has made and plans the school has to make more improvements in the future.
Recently, the school has turned to a blended learning model that utilizes technology in the classroom, and the students have been responding well to it.
Harding Middle School has made immense progress in some categories in its School Progress Report (SPR), and Principal Sanchez also laid out a plan for how the school intends to combat attendance and behavior issues. Finally, Ms. Serrano and Principal Sanchez opened up the floor to parents to voice any concerns or ask any questions. Parents responded well to having a Title I
Meeting tacked on to Math and Literacy Night. They were already at the school—and what parent doesn’t love hearing about the great things their child’s school has accomplished!
After the dinner, mingling, Winter Title I session came to a close, parents and family members were free to visit each of the tables. One of the tables was completely student-run. This table featured the technology that students were using in their classrooms as part of the school’s new blended learning approach. The students who were running the table demonstrated Redbird, which is a math program they use to practice concepts taught in class, and Reading Plus, which is a program that allows students to reinforce and develop reading skills. They’re required to complete 100 minutes a week and are free to access the technology at home.
Another fascinating table was the one dedicated to math. At the table, parents and family members learned about math standards, picked up math themed books, and even received a calculator tutorial so they could be better equipped to help their children with their math homework using advanced scientific and graphing calculators.
Beside the math table, Ms. Serrano was giving parents a quick tutorial on how to read aloud more effectively with their child. She gave each parent individual attention and got a lot of the students excited about all the books she was giving away. She also gave out information about volunteering at Harding and about the SAC (School Advisory Council). Ms. Serrano, like everyone else at the event, was extremely enthusiastic about everything going on at her table.
By the end of the night, staff and families alike agreed that Math and Literacy Night at Harding Middle School was a huge success! It was well attended by both staff and parents as well as students and other family members. The event itself strategically wove together a hodgepodge of different events and presented scores of important information in one single night.
Parents and family members seemed to enjoy the variety offered during the night: There was math. There was literacy. There was food. There was technology. There was picture information. There was a bike raffle. In short, there was a lot going on, but it was a fun night with a lot of helpful information for parents and family members to better help their child learn math and literacy at home. What could be better than that?