This year I’ve decided to try something new to help families support our units. I got the idea at my sister’s house, where her child had brought a “questions jar” home from school, filled with questions for the family to answer together. Her son pulled out a question, “What is one thing you’re afraid of?” and everyone in the room answered the question. It was thought-provoking and fun.
I decided to adapt the idea a little to connect it with our units of inquiry. I’ve sent home vocabulary lists for units before, but I thought it would be more effective, supportive, and interesting for students to actually use the vocabulary words, as they consider questions connected to our learning.
Our class decorated “family conversation jars” (some students called these “mystery jars” “question jars” or even “morning mystery question jars”). I printed a list of questions related to our current UOI. Students folded the questions and placed them in their jars. They were so excited to take the jars home!
At the end of our unit, I will ask for informal parent & student feedback. If the jars were useful, I plan to send home a batch of questions related to our next UOI. By the end of the year, perhaps students could even help create some of the questions.
Logistical notes: 1. I decided to print the questions on colored paper and plan to use a different color for each UOI. This is in case the old questions get mixed up with the new ones in someone’s jar. (Although the questions should be discarded after use.)
2. I was very clear to students & parents that they do NOT need to report anything back on these questions. This is optional home learning, not meant to be a burden!
3. Since the jars were glass, I carried them outside and distributed them directly to caregivers at dismissal time. The students seemed happy with this since their backpacks were already heavy anyway. I didn’t want any broken glass on the playground!
You can download the questions I used for our current UOI and parent letters here: