Our Top 10 Tips for a Successful Student-Led Conference


The weeks fly by so quickly and here it is time again for our absolutely-best-ever-most-favourite day of the school year, Student-Led Conferences!  We’re reblogging this post from April 2017 with our best suggestions for having a successful Student-Led Conference with your Kindergarten child. You can read the original post here.

Christy and I have been holding Student-Led Conferences (SLC) for many years; in fact, my first Student-Led Conference as a teacher was here in West Vancouver at Chartwell Elementary School in 1990 when I was teaching Grade 3.  We’ve gradually refined our practises to make it perfect for Kindergarten but the core tenets of the Conferences has always stayed the same:  to provide an opportunity for students to communicate learning to their parents in a meaningful format; self-reflection for students to identify their personal accomplishments, strengths and areas for improvement; give parents an insight into how their children learn; and an inside look at student work, their classroom and school.

We’ve written extensively about Student-Led Conferences at theselfregulatedteacher.com.  You can use the search tool on our website to find our posts.  You can also read about Student Led Conferences in my Grade 3 classroom during my Chartwell days in Evaluating Literacy:  A Perspective for Change(1991) by Robert J. Anthony, Terry D. Johnson, Norma I. Mickelson and Alison Preece.

Our Kindergarten Student-Led Conferences are a twist on the traditional Student-Led Conference.  In the years we were teaching Grades 1-4, each student would welcome their parents to his or desk, where a curated selection of work would be waiting in a file.  A letter of welcome for parents, plus a class created agenda, provide structure for the Conference time.

In Kindergarten, however, we use a Centre approach, in much the same way we use Centres during the morning Activity Time, Math Centres, or our focus afternoon Centre Time.  Parents can expect to see an Alphabet Centre, Math Centre with tasks and participate in the daily Calendar activities as part of our Student-Led Conferences.

Kindergarten is a special grade, the first formal schooling for most children, the first Student-Led Conference for most parents, and it’s important for us to set the tone and expectations for how the Conferences are conducted because you’ll be enjoying them for the next eight years while at Ridgeview.  As one of two informal Communicating Learning opportunities, we want this to be a positive and successful experience for you and your child.  The format will be different as you move through the grades, but its value is always the same:  priceless.  

Here’s our Top 10 tips for a successful Student-Led Conference:

  1. Sign-up for your child’s Student-Led Conference.  In Kindergarten, we havea limited number of families we will host in our classroom for each time slot.  Kindergarten sign-up sheets are posted outside the classrooms; all other Grades are posted in the main hallway near the Library.
  2. Arrange for care for your other children, particularly toddlers and preschoolers, so you can focus on your Kindergarten child.  Older children can wait outside on the playground.
  3. Arrive on time for your Student-Led Conference and remember to bring your child with you.  This Conference is for you and your child.  We’ve had several instances where our students were left at home with a babysitter, on the playground or at the childcare centre.
  4. Give praise and specific, positive comments to your child eg., “I like how you used a variety of colours in your drawing;” recognise that your child might find some tasks difficult so encourage them to keep trying their best.
  5. Be mindful of your Conference duration and gently remind your child when it is time to go; other families are waiting for their turn.
  6. Keep socialising with other parents to a bare minimum.  Your focus is on your child.
  7. Be respectful of the SLC of other students and their parents by keeping your own child close to you at all times.
  8. Refrain from engaging your child’s teacher in a discussion about your child’s progress; the teacher is supporting all students during the SLC process and has many jobs to do.  If you would like an interview, make an appointment on another day for a mutually agreeable day and time.
  9. This goes without saying, but our cell phones are a distraction. Please support us by turning off and putting all electronic devices away.  Please do not take phone calls during your child’s conference:  it’s disrespectful of the preparation we’ve done with your children; the other families; and most importantly, your children who are very, very excited to be the centre of your attention to share their learning with you.
  10. Please do not bring any hot drinks into the classroom. It’s not safe to be carrying a hot drink around with so many small children present, and for the precious schoolwork which we have out on the tables in case of spills.

 

Communicating Student Learning: Student-Led Conferences

This article was originally posted on February 23, 2015. We’re reblogging today with updates to reflect this current school year.

We communicate student learning in a variety of ways: through this website, our Remind texts, our Kindergarten curriculum overview, and the three formal and two informal reporting periods each school year. Our Kindergarten students receive their formal written report cards at the end of each term. Students received their first report card last December, the second report card was given out in March, and the third report will be distributed at the end of June.

The two informal reporting periods are a parent-teacher interview, held last fall, and this Spring’s Student-Led Conference.

There’s a lot of excitement and wonder surrounding Student-Led Conferences, and for good reason. Having your child lead the conference, not the teacher, is a shift in mind-set, particularly if this was not part of your school experience growing up. But we know this will be one of the most delightful learning experiences you will share with your children, as it will be for them to demonstrate their independence and leadership with you.

A Student-Led Conference is exactly that–a conference or interview for you and your child, led by your child. During the Conference, students assume the ownership for reporting and explaining to their parents what they are learning about and how they are doing in school. The teacher, who has supported the students in the selection of student work and practiced the conference with them, stays in the background during the actual Conferences.

During the years we taught from Grades One to Four, our students participated in a teacher-led discussion about the student work they would like to present at the Student-Led Conference. A brainstorming session of possibilities would ensue. There would be suggestions such as a polished piece of writing, the latest math test or a Science notebook; the class would vote on the ideas they liked best and those selections were included in their Student-Led Conference folder.

Depending upon the grade, sometimes we had a combination of “must-have” work and some student choices. A “gallery walk” around the school hallways, the latest digital learning project and a mini music performance were other fun choices to round out a Student-Led Conference.

A week or two before the Conference we had our older students write a letter inviting their parents to attend. The letter would highlight the learning and personal achievements students wanted their parents to particularly notice. This was a wonderful opportunity for student self-reflection of his or her successes.

For our Kindergarten students we organize our Student-Led Conferences by Centres. It’s a system the children are familiar with, and one in which we’ve used successfully with this age group.

In the weeks prior to the Student-Led Conference we review with your children the activities they enjoy most in our day and want to share with you. We also initiate some discussion on the learning we think you would enjoy seeing as their parents.

We typically include a Language Arts Centre which focuses on the children’s Alphabet and Writing Books; a Math Centre to create math patterns and showcase their Math Books; and a Scrapbook Centre to see some of the best work we’ve completed in Kindergarten this year, in the children’s individual scrapbooks. With the children’s help, we form an “Agenda” of the Centres the children will lead you through.

When you arrive with your child at our classrooms, your child will be given a personal copy of the Agenda and he or she will mark each activity with a sticker as it is finished. The Centres do not need to be completed in any particular order, but each one must be visited. We explain to the children that if they see there are many families at one Centre, then they should choose another until it’s less crowded.

During your child’s Conference, parents are able to enjoy looking at their child’s schoolwork and participate in the activities he or she has selected for you. As parents, giving specific praise and support recognises your child’s efforts at school. It is through your comments that you model what you value about your child’s learning.

This is a time for positive comments only to your child.

At the end of the Student-Led Conference we ask our parents to sign the Guest Book. It’s important for us to have a record of parent attendance and receive feedback every year. Over the years parents have always enjoyed the Conferences so it’s very rewarding to have the appreciation of your children’s, and our, efforts.

This year the Kindergarten Student-Led Conferences will be held on Wednesday, April 24.

All Ridgeview students will be dismissed at 2:00 pm, and the Conferences will begin immediately afterwards. You will have a 25 minute time slot with your child. A maximum of five-six Conferences will be held at once so families need to be prepared to speak softly. At the appointed time, we will ring a bell to signal the end of the Conference so that we may prepare for the next group.

Over the years, a few parents have asked why they cannot have an interview with the teacher instead.

To put it simply, the reason why you’re having a Student-Led Conference is because it’s an incredible opportunity and privilege to share in the learning of your child.

You will hear about your child’s learning from your child’s perspective, and have that deep insight into your child’s thinking, motivations and achievements. You will be engaged in a dialogue rich with the language of a young learner, share the joy of a job well done, and a sense of pride with every printed letter and cut out shape. And you’ll be able to share in the delight of your Kindergarten child as he or she begins the journey as a life-long learner.

Student-Led Conferences are one of our favourite days of the entire school year. From a teacher’s perspective, we couldn’t be any more proud of our students as they beam with pride at leading their mom and dad into their classroom to share the fabulous work they’ve completed at this point in the school year.

Please make arrangements for siblings so that your Kindergarten child can have your full attention during his or her Conference.

You can sign-up for your Student-Led Conference now outside of our child’s classroom.

The Self-Regulated Teacher

photo-5There are three formal and two informal reporting periods each school year.   Our Kindergarten students receive their formal written report cards at the end of each term.  Students received their first report card last December, the second report card will be given out on March 6, and the third report will be distributed at the end of June.

This year, the two informal reporting periods are a parent-teacher interview, held last fall, and the Student-Led Conference.

A Student-Led Conference is exactly that–a conference or interview for you and your child, led by your child.  During the Conference, students assume the ownership for reporting and demonstrating to their parents what they are learning about in school.  The teacher, who has supported the students in the selection of student work and practiced the conference with them, stays in the background during the actual Conferences.

During the years we taught from Grades One…

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This Week in Our Room:  April 8-12, 2019

As the March Hare said, “I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.  For a very important date!” Sorry we’re late with the newsletter.  It was a very busy week and weekend so we will just look at some of the highlights!

W is a watermelon…the children loved making the adorable watermelons.  Everybody had a story to tell about the seeds (spitting, spitting, and more spitting) and we all agreed it was the best and juiciest part of summer living.  Our Ws looked pretty amazing as well!

During the final term in Kindergarten Social Studies, we spend some good discussion time talking about the differences between Need and Wants.  The children really seem to understand the subtle differences (“I don’t need a puppy but I really, really WANT a puppy!”) and they have a realistic concept of the kinds of things they need to live (a sense of belonging, food, water, shelter, education) and the kinds of things they wish for, or want.  We’re so proud of them for openly sharing their feelings and the strong sense of family we have in our classrooms makes that possible.

We’re learning about geometric shapes during Math and have introduced the concept of two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes.  The children are learning that circles are round and flat but spheres are round with a ball or globe like shape. They are having an opportunity to complete fun “shape hunts” around the classroom and using shapes in their student response activities.

We saw our Buddies on Friday to make our Easter Bunny Baskets in the hopes that the Easter Bunny might make an early appearance in Divisions 15 and 16.

We made these beautiful patterned Easter eggs in anticipation of the Easter Bunny’s arrival  

By far the most exciting activity we did this week was begin our scheduled time for Forest Play on Friday.  Mr. Schofield’s Grade 4 students took the time to go over with us all the safety rules for playing in the forest during Kindergarten when we together.

-rain boots for creek play

-boundaries include the far ends of the creek

-no tree climbing or creek splashing

-leaves, flowers and berries stay on the plants

What a marvellous time the children had exploring up and down the creek, crawling over rocks, tree roots and stumps using sticks to help them.  It’s the best kind of play–free play with time to explore and investigate to one’s heart’s content.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Friday, April 19-Good Friday (school is not in session)

Monday, April 22-Easter Monday (school is not in session)

Wednesday, April 24–Student Led Conferences (2 pm dismissal)

Our Return to School and the Third Term Begins…This Week in Our Room: April 1-5, 2019

Well, we blinked and then it was suddenly April.  And in the same way we see the cherry trees, spring bulbs and flowers blooming and growing, so are the Kindergarten children.  We took a good look at our children sitting on the alphabet carpet and noticed they were taking up a lot of space in each square!  There are long legs, big eyes and huge smiles everywhere!  But we’re not letting ourselves get too far ahead to start talking about next year.  We have been working very hard to settle back into class and we have many special activities ahead.

The beginning of a new term is always a good time to review our classroom rules, routines and expectations.  Our children have come to understand that rules and routines keep the classroom predictable so they can feel safe, and so they know what is expected not only of themselves, but their classmates.  As the children this year are only five years old, turning six, there are going to be many instances where they forget the rule, cannot remember the routine or perhaps didn’t realize that touching others without asking is unexpected behaviour.  

As Kindergarten teachers we always take the time to review expected vs. unexpected behaviour and the classroom rules and routines (what is your job?).  Sometimes, we have to ask students to take a break (time to breathe, time to get a drink of water, time to sit away from others) so we can go over with them what happened in the course of their decision-making process.  We’re pleased to note that an overwhelming desire to please their teachers means that most of the time everyone listens carefully, shares and cooperate and tries to be mindful of the feelings of others.  Growing up is a work in progress (Christy and I have young adults entering their 20s, and we keep reminding ourselves daily that brain development continues until their early 30s, so it looks like we’re all in this for the long-haul).  We couldn’t be happier with the beautiful development and maturity of our Kinder cuties!

We are in the countdown now as we completed V is a vine this week!  This is such a simple, but pretty craft, and the children will bring theirs home in the next few days.  Our alphabet wall is almost complete!

We heard that Easter is just around the corner, so that means creating Easter egg themed April Self-Portraits and making sparkle eggs to decorate the classroom.  Our little bunnies did a really amazing job – there was a lot of colouring, cutting and arranging in those self-portraits!

Friday was our last day to complete our Penguin Digital Literacy projects with our Big Buddies.  You are going to have a wonderful treat when you see these amazing digital books we made on the app “Book Creator.”  The children have completed some very fine research, gathered pictures from the internet and completed their voiceovers.  We have a couple of technical things to do next and then you will see them at our Science Centre during Student-Led Conferences (SLC) on Wednesday, April 24.  We will send out more information about what to expect for your child’s SLC in a couple of weeks.

This week’s big project was painting the beautiful platters for the Ridgeview RPAC Family FUNdraiser Auction on Friday, April 26.  You will have a chance to bid and win one if you come to the FUNdraiser!!  You must buy tickets to attend this event.  Please see Thursday’s Ridgeview e-bulletin which provides you with more information.

During Spring Break at Bella Ceramica in West Vancouver, Christy and I prepared these platters by first marking out with an “x” in pencil where the centre of each flower would go; these are each covered with 3 coats of paint which we made with the eraser end of a pencil.

Back at school, the children fingerpainted five petals for their flower, twice, for each platter.  We wrote their names in pencil.  We are so fortunate that Ms. Wilson, our Big Buddy Grade 7 teacher, is also an amazing artist.  She did the calligraphy for each of the children’s names, the vines “to connect all of you together” and the leaves.

These photos show the platters just before firing.  

Special thanks to Abigail and Finlay’s moms in their role as Room Parents for their financial organisation of this project.  We just got to have fun and paint!

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Our classes have been invited to see “Clean-Up Your Act” by DreamRider Productions on Monday morning.  We will be learning how litter, graffiti and vandalism affect our communities and what we can do to help protect our public spaces.

Please return your Library Books on Monday as we have Library in the afternoon.

Division 15 (Mrs. Campbell) has PE on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Division 16 (Mrs. Daudlin) has PE on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Please remember to have runners at school on those days.

Please note these dates for your April/May Calendar:

Monday, April 15 – Earth Rangers presentation for children

Friday, April 19 – Good Friday – school is not in session

Monday, April 22 – Easter Monday – school is not in session

Wednesday, April 24 – Student Led Conferences (2 pm dismissal)

Friday, April 26 – Ridgeview RPAC Family FUNdraiser (6-8:30 pm)

Friday, May 3 – Class Photos/Panorama Photo

 

We Say Good-Bye to Winter and Get Ready for Spring: This Week in Our Room: March 11-15, 2019

It was amazing to us how quickly the past ten weeks flew by.  We’ve already finished the second term of Kindergarten!  The  children were certainly feeling the progression of time and thinking about how much some of them were going to miss coming to school while we were all on Spring Break.  Although we might talk about the school break “a change of pace” or “time for a break” it is not lost on us how much the classroom and friendships mean to many children.

We had a quiet, although very productive, week at school.  We have suddenly arrived at the letter U in our alphabet work.  Over the term, we’ve become quite particular about the printing of the children’s names, encouraging the class to always start their name with an uppercase letter, then follow through with lowercase.  It’s been a hard transition for some, especially if they have been printing in all uppercase letters since their preschool days.  We will continue working on this at school, as you can in reminding your child when they are printing their names on papers and cards at home.

We finished our work on the number 7 for math.  In addition to all that we see in what  they are learning about number sense, counting and flexibility in their thinking about number, we’re also really delighted to see the children’s social and emotional growth in their small groupings.  

We typically create the math groups and designate seating for written work all through the year so our class is continually getting to work with everyone, strengthening new friendships while maintaining the ones they have from previous years.  We believe the children should form as many friendships as possible; having just a “best friend” does not always work out, as we know from experience.  Children get an opportunity to be a leader (putting away the math materials in their special places in the classroom), practise sharing and taking turns, help each other out and get to learn about their classmates in ways other than free and outside play.  

The children sang one of their showpiece numbers, “Ev’rybody Wants to be a Cat” from Disney’s “The Aristocats” at our term end school assembly on Thursday.  They are so musical and the cat hairbands helped everyone to “meow” their very best.  Also performing at the assembly were the Grades Two/Three and Grades Six/Seven singing groups, and the Grade Six and Grade Seven Concert bands.  It was a musical morning for sure!

On Friday morning we were privileged to have a small group of parents talk to the Kindergarten classes about the Persian holiday, Norouz, and the “Haft Seen” Table.  The children were very interested, and it was a valuable learning opportunity for everyone to learn and appreciate the diverse cultural backgrounds of our Ridgeview families.  The children enjoyed some delicious treats afterwards and quickly ate over five dozen cookies between them.  Thank you to our parent volunteers for organizing this special event!

We wish you all a safe and relaxing Spring Break!  We will see everyone in two weeks time!

Upcoming Events and Reminders

April’s Calendar:

Monday, April 1 – School re-opens for the Third Term

Wednesday, April 17 – Do 1 Give (more information to follow)

Friday, April 19 – Good Friday (school is not in session)

Monday, April 22 – Easter Monday (school is not in session)

Wednesday,  April 24 – Student Led Conferences (early dismissal at 2 pm)

Friday, April 26 – Ridgeview’s Family FundRaiser (more information to follow)

 

Kindergarten in Bloom:  This Week in Our Room: March 4-8, 2018

We know it’s not much to look at but here is the first harbinger of Spring to come. Those poor crocuses appeared before the snows of last week. Talk about resilience in the face of all kinds of adversity….The children were charmed by the snow showers that fell and insisted on a quick runaround on the blacktop for an end-of-winter-thrill.

It’s been another power packed week full of activity in the Kindergarten, not the least of which was the three birthdays in Division 16, Buddies and a concert put on WVSS Concert Band and Concert Choir!  

We are galloping along the Alphabet trail and made these wonderful little “t is a tree” with paper squares and sparkling sequin berries.  The children’s brainstorming for T has become quite sophisticated.

We’re always changing up our Math Rotations activities for the children.  Currently, we’re focusing on sets 5-9, with an emphasis on number 6 this past week.  Besides creating sets (treasure boxes) and matching numerals to sets (Math Their Way Workjobs red game boxes), the children have been using rolling dice to record number formations with bingo marker towers and double-sided bean counters for more work on hierarchical inclusion.  

Hierarchical inclusion means understanding how do numbers relate to each other (that a number contains all of the previous numbers).  While using their double-sided bean counters, the children are learning about various combinations to 6. They are always so surprised each time they “spill” the beans to find that the two numbers make 6.  So in this fun, play based activity, our children are learning that 6 and 0, 1 and 5, 2 and 4 and 3 and 3 all relate to each in that their “spilled” combination (no matter what the order) always adds up to 6.

We made our monthly Self-Portraits for March on these cutie penguin backgrounds.

Friday morning saw the West Vancouver Secondary Concert Band, conducted by Mr. Justin Ratzburg, and the Concert Choir, under the direction of Mrs. Suzanne Fulton, arrive at our gym for a fantastic concert.  Ridgeview students can join our school band program in Grade 6 and 7; from there, they can register for Concert Band in Grade 8. Starting in Grade 9, WVSS offers programs in Orchestra, Jazz Band, Rock Band or students may continue in Concert Band.  

Currently, Ridgeview students are involved in singing programs at the school.  Upon registering at for Grade 8, WVSS students can join the Concert Choir without any prior experience, audition for the Chamber Choir or audition for the West Vancouver Honour Choirs which represent our entire school district.  

We rounded out our week with a second digital literacy session with our Big Buddies. We have now progressed to using the app Book Creator to record our research. Each Buddy pair is creating a digital book with a title page and dedication, individual pages for different aspects of penguin (habitat, appearance, young, food) and voice-overs. These will be ready for your viewing at Student-Led Conferences on Wednesday, April 26. Please save this date on your calendar. We will have an early dismissal at 2 pm and you and your child will return to school for your appointed conference time.

As you know from the first Report Card, we include a Self-Reflection of the children’s learning for each Term.  They did a wonderful job of really thinking about what was important for them in Kindergarten this Spring….

…and an even better job of representing their learning!  How cute is that?

Reminders and Upcoming Events

Please return all Library Books.  We will not be taking out new books for Spring Break to allow Mrs. Kennedy to do some inventory.

Early dismissal at 2pm on Friday, March 15th. Report cards will also be sent home that day.

 

Spring is Around the Corner (We Hope):  This Week in Our Room: February 25 – March 1, 2019

We’re almost done with the snow.  It’s melting away and we noticed the first of the spring bulbs starting to appear in our home and school gardens.  It’s a welcome relief after this long spell of cold weather, snow boots, mittens and toques.

We were so happy to have a full week of school — really, nobody is more relieved than the teachers as there is always SO MUCH going on in the Kindergarten.

We’re officially over the hump of the alphabet – this week was “S” and our craft was “s is a snake.”  These are totally adorable and will make a welcome addition to your alphabet wall at home.

We’ve made it halfway through our numeracy stations.  We’ve been working on the number 5 (tricky to print, no doubt about it) and playing with 5 and 10 frames.  We’ve been rolling the dice, as it were, to create numbers to 10 using double sided counters for each number.  It’s a great way to teach our children dot pattern recognition and subitizing (the dice), building sets to 10 and part-whole relationships (the number of objects remains the same even they they are arranged spatially).

In Social Studies we’ve continued talking about our Families and the number of people in our families.  We read The Family Book by Todd Parr and the children created this graph:

Thank you to everyone for dressing up in pink on February 27 to promote Anti-Bullying Awareness, or as we like to say, prosocial behaviour so our children understand the importance of empathy and compassion and the ways in which they treat one another. Some of those familiar sayings such as “Treat others as you wish to be treated” and “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” may seem trite but their meaning is just as powerful as it was 50-60 years ago. Right now, phrases we’re using often are “Helpful hands, not hurting hands” and asking “Is that a helpful comment or a hurtful comment” to delineate at a simple level the difference for our children.

As we mentioned in Remind this week, it was a double-header of the best kind– Big Buddies and a Popcorn Sale!  We saw our Big Buddies this week to conclude our research on the penguin (habitat, appearance, food, young, characteristics) and began using the app Book Creator to record our research and insert photos from the internet. Thank you so much to our BFF and West Vancouver District Innovation Teacher (Technology), Ms. Cari Wilson for assisting us with our annual digital literacy project. You’ll be able to view this amazing digital books at Student-Led Conferences in April.

We’ve been having a lot of fun with Sharing this term.  The collections have been so much fun, from small cars to rocks, Pokemon to Paw Patrol, stuffed animals to LEGO figures.  This will be the last round of Sharing before Spring Break. We will start a new theme when we return.

 

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Library Book Exchange for both classes on Monday.  We have had many browsers lately so please help to remind your child to put their library book into their backpacks Sunday night.

We will be back to the gym this week to continue our work with small equipment and the physical literacy skills of running, hopping, throwing, and kicking.  Please wear runners for our gym days (Tuesdays and Thursdays)

March Scholastic Orders went home this week.  Order forms are due next Friday, March 8th.

If you are leaving early  or arriving back later from Spring Break please let us know so we can let the office know about the upcoming absences.