Persell Middle School Holds Family Expo

“If we put dry ice in the sink, it is more dense than the air we breathe, so it hovers like you see in the movies or at concerts,” said Mary Maggio, Persell Middle School teacher. “If you blow on it a bit, it will billow up over the counter.”

Students and their families circled the sink and tried blowing on the dry ice. Maggio demonstrated some of the properties of carbon dioxide, along with a variety of other science experiments, during a breakout session at a recent Persell’s Family Expo. “A Summer of Science” session showed families how to create simple science experiments to keep kids busy over the summer.

The “Summer of Science” session was just one breakout sessions that Persell Middle School’s Family Engagement Committee developed to present at the Family expo to help increase family engagement. Other sessions at the two-hour Family Expo included:

Breaking Apart Nonfiction Texts helping families learn strategies used to break apart nonfiction texts by aiding students in quickly identifying the main ideas of each paragraph

Close Read – teaching parents and students ways to read and break apart text to uncover “hidden” layers of meaning for deeper comprehension

Fluency – helping children read with expression and accuracy leading to greater comprehension

Riveting Reading Games – introducing fun ways to infer or enjoy an article by creating two reading games for families to take home

Foldables – making creative visuals to use with children as study guides

Visualization – creating mind pictures, engaging readers and building comprehension

Write in the Middle – demonstrating to families how they can help children like writing

Skittles Math – using Skittles to estimate, compare, write fractions, make graphs and more

Math, Math, Math – innovative ways to engage students in math throughout the summer

In addition to the breakout sessions, teachers Lisa Stahlman-Colby and Melissa Forster discussed college and career readiness, introduced the new Common Core Standards and how they are different from prior standards, gave examples of sample test ELA and math test questions pre- and post-Common Core, and offered suggestions on how families can help their children succeed in school. They also handed out tickets asking parents what additional information the school could provide that would be helpful.

“During our district in-service day, as a school, we talked about family and community engagement,” said Stahlman-Colby. “We came to the conclusion that our building needed to work on this tenet and a volunteer Family and Community Engagement Committee was formed. Our committee thought a good first step was a Family Expo Night to better inform families about the new Common Core Standards, but also, give them ways to help with the education of their children at home.”

The Family Expo Night also included a taco dinner coordinated by Family & Consumer Science teacher Marcy Miller and health teacher Devyn Agett. The teachers incorporated healthy eating into the night by preparing a meal comparable to Taco Bell, but healthier, including whole-wheat tortillas and fruit parfaits. They also brought in Cornell Cooperative Extension to talk about meal budgeting. The James Prendergast Library attended, talking to parents about their summer reading challenge and new services that are free to parents on-line. Persell staff provided childcare for younger children in the families.

“I attended because I wanted to be sure that the education my children are getting will translate to other areas of the country. I am also a member of the Persell Leadership Committee and feel it is so important for parents to be engaged in their children’s education,” said Persell Middle School parent Anthony Scott. “Teachers have our children five to six hours a day in school. But parents are the greater influence and by learning about new initiatives, we can help our children be successful in their educational experience.”

Persell Family Engagement Committee would like to thank participating staff and volunteer for their help to make the Family Expo a success: Julie Alfa, Mary Maggio, Lina Scoma, Heather Schults, Dee Dee Farr, Annika Putney, Ashley Keiser, Kelly Cardinale, Marianne Boggs, Betsy Pope, Mindy Trapani, Meghan Demorest, Katie Tarnowski, Stephanie Aselin, Phil Cammarata, Leslie Melquist, Jayme Genco, Nita Walter, Michela Tehan, Tim Whitacre, Amanda Johnson, Andrea Calanni, Mary Spitale, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Linnea Carlson from the James Prendergast Library.