I am straying away from the usual math ideas I have put on here and putting a comment about one of the hilights of this year.
We are told every year that we have a night where we put on Student Led Conferences. Over the years I have watched students guide their parents through their work. Many of the parents have already seen their work and are a part of the process of completing it and others see the work and either congratulate or criticize their child on it and then they all walk out together. Many of the families are in a rush because there are sports or other events to get to. Usually the Student Led Conference ends up being a forgettable event in the school year.
This year we (there are two classrooms joined together) decided to make this more of an event for our class. We asked the parents to come and stay for dinner as part of the conference. It was a potluck that we asked for parents to either send in the food in the morning or just show up with the food. We really didn't know what to expect but this turned into a great and memorable night. Our organization for this was no more than a note home a few days before the conference night and buying some food to get the event started. We had a general idea that a few parents to going to take part and were actually worried for a while that it was going to be a flop. Instead here is what happened quite organically.
Parents began bringing in food and adding to our table. Not only parents came in but generally the whole family came as well. We didn't organize this but suddenly my room became the conference room while my partners class became the eating and play area. Parents sat and chatted with other parents , students played different games with each other and their siblings. Some families stayed for over an hour and just talked about current events or common interests. They casually would go through their child's work and then go back to eat some more or to just relax. Dinner plans were done so parents were far more relaxed. Even the families that had sporting events and had to leave appreciated that they didn't have to worry about dinner for their family and could now go off to the activity. We actually had parents from other classes in the school coming by and asking about what we were doing. When the conference time was up it was actually a bit disappointing to leave instead of the "glad this is over" feeling that can happen.
The overall feeling of this was one that I will always remember and the food that arrived was diverse and delicious. For the amount of effort that we put in (minimal) it was a great night. I am not sure if I would do it any other way from now on and I see it getting better every year and a tradition gets started.
Just an idea that may not be inivative but interesting anyway.