George Lucas Education Foundation

Getting to Know Your Students in a Million Words or Less

How can you learn your students’ strengths, challenges, and passions right at the start of school? Assign a playful report to their parents and guardians—it may be useful all year long.

August 9, 2021

Middle school teacher Cathleen Beachboard gives homework to her students’ families a few weeks before school starts—she asks them to describe their child in a million words or less. The information she gets back allows her to get a jump start on forming relationships with her students that will help them bring their best to the classroom throughout the school year. Beachboard has made an editable version of the Million Words handout available for other educators to use (requires Google sign-in to make a copy).

The Million Words activity originated with teacher Deb Bova on the MiddleWeb site in 2003 but has endless variations.

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  • Family Engagement
  • Parent Partnership
  • Student Engagement

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