I am linking up with Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies' linky party about parent communication. Being a center-based/self-contained special ed teacher, communication with parents is an essential part of my job. Since two of my students are completely nonverbal, and the rest all have varying degrees of (mostly severe) speech and communication impairments, most cannot communicate effectively to their parents about their school day without support.
Thus, the "home-school notebook" is a staple in the special ed world! When I started teaching, and until a few years ago, I used the standard composition notebook and wrote longhand notes to each parent each day. These included paragraphs listing the activities we did in the classroom each day, how their child felt or behaved or performed, as well as additional notes regarding needed supplies such as diapers, tube feeding supplies, etc., or reminders of upcoming events such as community-based instructions (field trips to the regular ed crowd - we shorten to CBI).
Needless to say, these notes took me ages every day. I barely ate lunch (not an exaggeration) because when the kids were eating or having free time after lunch I was busy writing in notebooks. Enter my idea of a couple years ago - why not have the kids write their home-school notes? I created the form below, which we now use daily instead of those cumbersome, time-consuming notebooks:
The students use bingo daubers/Dot a Dot markers to indicate which activities they did that day, and how they felt...there's a place for staff to write notes if needed (but I don't need to do that every day for every kid!) and below the icons there's also an "other" line to write in if the kids did something not on the sheet. Even though many of my students need hand-over-hand assistance - or at the least, supervision and prompting - to complete their Home Notes each day, it is much quicker (5 minutes versus 30-45 minutes) than the old longhand teacher-written notes, and is a good memory recall of what they did each day, too.