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    Student Led Conferences
    By yoda

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    I tried student led conferences for the first time last year. I had the kids bring in an empty cereal box to serve as their portfolio. I had them set goals and write a letter before conference time telling their parents about their year thus far. Since this was my first time, I only included two subjects, math and writing. I also didn't overwell the parents as well.

    Students used their Everyday Math Journals and marked at least 5 pages with a post-it note to show their parents. Students were required to pick a page they were proud of or did well on, a page that showed improvement, and a page they didn't do so hot on. Believe it or not, my students did this pretty well. I explained to them that they weren't in trouble but should be able to explain to their parents what they did wrong. On a sheet, I had students list the page number and write why they selected that page. As for writing, reading and showing their parents the letter demonstrated skill level.

    I practiced with my students ahead of time. I asked them questions so that they could practice answering or I might have to do a quick mini-lesson on a skill.

    On the night of conferences, I greeted the parents and student. The students were trained to get their cereal box and take their parents to a table. Students first read their letter and answered any parent questions. Then they showed them their marked journal pages. I watched and listened from a distance. It was great to see how the students and parents interacted. The time slot for each conference was 15 min. Students had the first 10 or whenever finished, and I got the remainder time. I went over their report card and asked the parents what they wanted their students to work on.

    In the spring, I had samples of student work from all areas. Again, the same process, students selecting the work and explaining their rationale for sharing.

    In between the fall and spring, I had parents fill out a questionaire. All of the parents that responded enjoyed the conference more so than a typical conference. Some parents wanted the option to have a little more time with me w/or w/o the student present. I asked the parents in the spring before I carried on with my part. The students loved this style of conferencing. As one of my 4th graders put it, "I know exactly what's going to happen and be said at my conference; it's not a surprise."

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