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Tool: Preparing for student-led conferences

Students should be included in the evaluation of their work as much as possible.  Portfolios are one effective means to achieve this.  There is also great benefit in including students in the reporting process because it increases student ownership in their own learning. A growing trend in many elementary schools involves students leading their own parent/teacher conferences. In these situations the student, teacher and parents jointly participate in the reporting process. The adults typically listen to the student report about the progress that has been made that year. Work samples are used to illustrate growth and connect work with standards and expectations.

1 of 7: Timeline. Many teachers like to create a timeline that allows them to continuously collect and monitor student work samples.

Student:

Year:

September

Samples collected:

October

Samples collected:

November

Samples collected:

December

Samples collected:

January

Samples collected:

February

Samples collected:

March

Samples collected:

April

Samples collected:

May

Samples collected:

June

Samples collected:


2 of 7. The student-led conference agenda.
The agenda gives the students a plan to follow.

Subject:

What was covered:

Work samples to show:

Subject:

What was covered:

Work samples to show:

Subject:

What was covered:

Work samples to show:

Subject:

What was covered:

Work samples to show:

Subject:

What was covered:

Work samples to show:

Subject:

What was covered:

Work samples to show:


3 of 7. Ask the student to evaluate herself/himself by process criteria..

Student effort. This year I…

Work habits.This year I…

Student behavior. This year I…



4 of 7. Ask the student to set his/ her conference goals.

These are my goals…

 

Subject:

 

Subject:

 

Subject:

 

Subject:

 

Subject:

 

Subject:

 

Student effort:

 

Work habits:

 

Student behavior:

 


5 of 7. Organize the work samples
.

Each student has a folder containing her/his work. Both the teacher and student select work to be included in the conference. Some teachers allow the students to select examples from each subject area and then review the choices prior to the conference. Others make the selections together as they discuss the child’s progress.  Use the Agenda form to help this process.

6 of 7. Prepare parents.

It is helpful to tell parents ahead of time what to expect at the conference. In particular, share the extensive evaluation process that you and the students engaged in as you prepared for the conference. In your letter, you may want to include sample questions and comments for parents to use during the conference. These may include:

  • Make positive comments.
  • Ask specific questions about your child’s work and learning.
  • Give positive feedback.
  • Express confidence at your child’s ability to lead the conference.
  • Help your child formulate goals.

7 of 7. Rehearse.

If students have not experienced leading their own conference before, they will need to practice. It may be helpful to enlist other adults and an older student to model what the conference looks and sounds like. Students can then break into pairs and practice. Timing is often a challenge for students, and you may need to gently nudge the student through the agenda.  Note: Be aware that this process may be intimidating for some students depending on their situation at home and/or their success in school.

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Adapted from: Servis, J. (1999). Celebrating the fourth: Ideas and inspiration for  teachers of the fourth grade. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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