Saturday, April 6, 2013

Student Led Conferences

Student-Led Conferences

     I LOVE student-led conferences! 
    To watch the students with their parents is telling.  To listen to how the students speak to and with their parents also gives great insights.  Outside of all the knowledge gained by just sitting back, watching and listening, my FAVORITE part, bar none, is to see and hear the pride in the kids' voices as they discuss goals and what we do day in and out.
     I have had the privilege of trying various ways to conduct student-led conferences.  Last year, while teaching fourth grade, we had students design power points that led them through the conference.  Goals are the focus. The basic pattern is given to the students through a graphic organizer three weeks prior to conferences.  Designers choose font, background and pictures to make it their own.  Sharing their power point and portfolio makes up the conference.  I found that it may be best to have students pull out their evidence from portfolio.  It is very tempting to show EVERYTHING in the portfolio otherwise. (LONG...conferences when families start rummaging through the portfolio.)  The end of the power point discusses what their future plans are and how their parents can help them achieve them. I like the way this student-led conference flows with strong introduction and conclusion.
    This year in fifth grade, I had the students decide on three to four items they wanted to show their parents.  They could go to the music room, gym, counselor, computer lab, etc.  I required only one special, two academic areas.  They needed to sign in  and teach their parents how to sign in on the Mimio board (picture below).  Goal sheet on their desk needed to be shared and explained (picture above).  Goal setting will be another post for the future.  Lastly, parents had to complete an evaluation which students completed for themselves during class.  Then we discussed the results.  I joined this part of the discussion to add what I see within the classroom.  My students are rather proficient at how they are doing in the classroom.  They were not too far off of where I would have rated them.  Once in a while, they would be harder on themselves.  I liked the aspect of  the students teaching parents the Mimio and describing how they develop their goals.  The movement to specials was a great addition. 
    Next step, is to take the summer to figure out how I can meld the best aspects of each as I return to fourth grade.  Keeping the power point is top on my list.  Not only does it serve as a guide; it teaches how to use power point. I may like to challenge my higher students to use Prezi.  (May be a larger bit than I can handle!)  I want to incorporate choosing a special to visit as well without lengthening the night for the families.  The metamorphosis of goal setting within our daily work will continue to be the focus. 
Do you have student-led conferences? 
What do you do? 
Favorite parts? Stories?