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    Have students help
    By Louanne

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    For my first conferences each year, I give the students a "sentence starter" paper, which I read all or part to the parents at conferences. I have things on the paper like this: I can tell I'm getting better at math because...; What I have especially enjoyed in science so far this year is...; A goal I have for myself this year is...; A way my parents and teachers could help me be a better student would be to...; What I've liked best about 5th grade so far is...; If I could change anything about 5th grade to help me be a better learner, it would be...; My friends are...;
    I have a sentence starter for each subject area, as well as a few goal setting and responsibility kind of sentences. This really gives me a lot of answers to what's going on in the students' minds, as well as a great way to share information with parents. It usually takes students 10 to 15 minutes to complete this.
    Another thing that I do is simply make a column list of my teaching objectives up to this point in the school year. I include behavioral and social objectives. It might look something like this:
    ______'s conference
    report for October
    (Highlighted areas
    are areas that need
    to be improved)

    Addition facts
    Subtraction facts
    Multiplication facts
    Reading out loud
    Reading comprehension
    Using good handwriting
    Spelling tests
    Using good spelling
    Understanding science
    Working with others
    Managing talking/not talking
    Getting along with others
    Completing homework
    Completing work on time in class
    Staying on task in class

    Then I highlight each area that I would like to see the student improve in. It takes me only a few minutes to highlight these for the whole class, and I have a pretty complete report for the parents. I ALWAYS emphasize to parents that all the areas that are not highlighted are areas that their child is doing well in, so to go home and praise them for those areas, as well as talk with them about the highlighted areas. This way, I'm not focusing only on what needs changing, but also what is looking good!

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