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Student Led Conferences

Compiled By: StephR

Many teachers here on PT hold student led conferences during Report Card time. This collection gathers all of the great ideas in one place.

Student-Led Conferences
Posted by: Anna

I have used student-led conferences for the last 2 years in 5th grade. Our first conference is in late Oct. so I start planning from the very start of the year. I have mailboxes that I pass back graded work, and every Friday before they collect the papers to put in their Friday folders, they look through and pick one "good" paper (something they're proud of) and one "not so good" paper (something they could've done better at). For each paper they fill out a notecard and explain whey they picked that particular piece of work, and why they are/are not especially proud of it. Then they file it in their portfolio folder (hanging files in a crate) and save for future reference.

About 2 weeks before conferences, we start practicing how to do the conference. I have an outline that they must follow through the conference and at specific points they show the work that they selected from the past 6-7 weeks. Before conference day we sort through the work they have chosen and narrow it down to 3 or 4 "proud" pieces and 3 or 4 "not so proud" pieces.

Below is a list of the things that I have them include in their portfolio for conferences.

1. An introduction. Welcome to the conference etc.
2. A list of 2 short term goals (things to accomplish before the end of the next 9 weeks) and 3 long term goals (things to accomplish throughout the year). They go over these goals with their parents and tell HOW they plan on achieving these goals.
3. A short list of their strenghts and weaknesses. Areas that they are strong in, and areas that need some work.
4. Samples of work. They may show all the "bad" work first and then all the "good" work second, or mix them up. The "bad" work is simply the work that they chose that they could've done better on. I don't call it "bad" in front of the students, I'm just using that term here.
5. Question and answer session to discuss what was talked about.
6. Thank yous- for coming etc.

Now the student does ALL the talking and running of the conference. I only interject to give my two cents when I agree with what the child is saying, or to add to something that they've talked about. Before actual conferences I've done a run through with each student (mini-version) so I know what they will be saying.

We only have 15 min. with the parent, so time is quick. If there is something that needs further discussion, or we need more time, I will schedule a conference with the parent for a later date. These student led conferences are really a time for the child to shine and be proud of their accomplishments or to focus on areas for improvement.

I'm totally sold on student-led conferences. They put the emphasis on the child, not the teacher, and they make the child take responsibility and ownership of their learning. Plus, it's nice to know that mom and dad aren't talking behind your back with teacher. They are there for every word. Only three times in the last 2 years have I had to schedule extra conference times at later dates.

Student-Led Conferences
Posted by: Anna

I did student-led conferences last year with great success with my 5th graders. This is what we do:

1. I have them choose samples of work to show their parents. I want them to choose some "bad" work that they are improving on doing better, and some "good" work that they are proud of. I also make them include at least one journal entry for a writing sample.

2. I have an outline for them to follow. They make a list of goals for the next nine weeks, and then goals to work for the entire year. For each subject they list one thing they learned, and one thing they need to continue working on.

3. We peer-practice conferences all during the week before conferences. They have their outline to follow (introduction, thank parents for coming, show them their work samples, show them their goals, show them subject lists).

4. I also make a copy of the report card where I get to give them marks for study habits and conduct. I have them give themselves grades on how they think they are doing, and then we compare those to the marks I gave to them on their report card. Most of the time they are harder on themselves than I am on them.

This approach works well for me. It makes the student take ownership and repsonsibility for their work, and their parents are usually very proud that they conduct the conference. I have the children set the timer when they come in (it makes it seem less rude than when I do it) and they run the conference (with input and guidance from me).

Good luck (I think you should be able to get it all done in a week, if you spend a good deal of time during school day preparing your students).

Student Led Conferences
Posted by: FischerTeach

I did student led conferences for the first time this year and absolutely LOVED them! I also got really positive feedback from the parents. However, I did do it a bit differently. I taught 6th grade, so the students were very capable of running the show.

I will start by saying that I went over the process with the students the day before conferences so that they knew what they would be doing. I then scheduled 3 parents (and students) for each half-hour time slot.

I had 6 centers set up around the classroom, each displaying an activity that we had been working on in our different subject areas. The parents and students were given an "agenda" for the conference that explained what they were to do at each station. The student then took their parents around and did what was listed on the agenda. The centers did not have to be done in any specific order, so if one was occupied, they could go to another.

For example, we had recently finished a unit on the 5 themes of geography, so at one station the students did a short project with their parents where they used our city to create a graphic organizer based on the 5 themes.

At another station, students were to explain what each of the squares of the story quilts we made after reading the novel Island of the Blue Dolphins represented.

You get the idea. Finally, one of the centers listed on the agenda was "Meet With The Teacher," so I was able to have a quick talk with the parent and student before they left.

I will warn you that it can be a bit tricky if you need to discuss a personal matter or problem with a parent. What I did in those cases was scheduled the parent in a slot by themselves.

Good Luck and Enjoy!!!

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student led conference procedure
Posted by: TeacherCarrie

Basically, the students opens the door for his/her parents (and whoever else comes). They invite the parents in and welcome them in. I come over very briefly and tell them I am there if they have any questions after wards. I am off doing my own thing while these are going on. It's all up to the student and it is their thing.

The student brings the people to their desk. Each student has a folder with directions on what to do (we also go over these directions the day of the conferences). There is a sheet I have each student fill out that asks things like, "What do I like best about this year, I need help with, etc." Then after they read that to the people they bring, they show them work samples. Once they are done with that, they ask the parents if they have any questions. Most parents ask about a project or a book they are reading, etc. If the parents don't have any questions for me...they leave.

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student led conferences
Posted by: Froggy

We do this at my school, however, we are 6th - 8th grade. Students fill out several (3) forms in advance. They find 3 samples of work, their best, their worst, and the one they enjoyed doing the most. They then explain each work sample. They also set goals for the rest of the year including who can help them attain their gaols and what obstacles could keep them from reaching their goals (friends, video games, sports, etc.).
They also set goals for next year. We have done this for about 5 years.

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student led conferences
Posted by: emme

I teach First Grade, in a school of Pre K, to First Grade. We all do traditional conferences for our first ones, in the fall. In the spring, our conferences are to be student-led, mandated by the admin. I LOVE student led conferences. There are no harried looking parents waiting on chairs in the hall, no teachers running late because someone went over or arrived late, no tension as you check the clock to be sure you are on time. Just relaxed parents spending time in the room finding out what their child has been doing.

I set up authentic classroom activities around the room in reading, writing, phonics dictation, math, computers. Sometimes we include a Science experiment or SS graph. The parents have a notebook telling them what skill level to look for in each activity, and what red flags could indicate to them that extra attention is needed.

I welcome them and visit each student/parent group several times in the 30 to 60 minutes they are in the room together, to be sure the parents understand the booklet and to be sure their time together is going smoothly. I warmly thank them for coming as they leave. I'm still finished in the same time frame as the traditonal interviews, but with so much less stress, no lineups, no clock checking, and with the parents finding out first hand how their child is doing in the major subject areas. These are a GREAT way to run conferences. Late in the Spring I schedule face to face interviews only with the few that are really struggling.

student led conferences
Posted by: Karen

I have been doing student led conferences with my students for about 10 years. I do NOT do it the first time we have conferences, because I don't know enough about the child to be confident in what they tell their parents. Plus, I think parents want to talk to me the first time (I teach 5th grade). We keep data folders, which have all of their papers from the last 4-5 weeks in it (we purge it at interim and grade card time), plus charts of all of their test scores for the year.

About two weeks before conferences, I have them fill out a cloze sentence/paragraph about every subject. For instance: I have read ________ books this year and _____________________ was my favorite. It amounts to about 5 pages double spaced. I do two sections a day for the week and get it entirely filled in. Sections include math, spelling, handwriting, writing, reading, social studies, science, behavior, homework and tests. I read the paragraph and explain what I mean by each blank, I also roam around the room, stressing honesty (at the conference their parent and I will know they are lying and it's embarassing). Every once in a while I stop at a student's desk and say, "Is that really true?" if I see someone not being honest.

The week before conferences we practice at least 3 times with a partner - stressing looking up at the parent, speaking clearly, etc. I let parents know ahead of time the student will be leading the conference and if they want to schedule one with me they can do so after their child is done (I answer small questions, but direct most questions to the child.) Students are usually very nervous, but afterwards say it wasn't so bad and parents really like it. They like to hear their child tell them they have had 14 late papers, and then try to explain why. I sit in on the conference, but say little. I only have child present gradecard, not go over every little detail on it, because time doesn't permit it. My students have permission to start their conference without me in a nearby empty room if the one before theirs is running over. It's a great way to make kids truely think about and honestly discuss their grades and behaviors with their parents.

Student Led Conferences
Posted by: yoda

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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student led conferences
Posted by: Shawna

We do student led conferences school-wide. I teach kindergarten and first grade and it is so impressive to see these little children leading their parents through a conference. We have them create a portfolio during the semester and then practice leading conferences using a checklist with pictures and by doing role-plays. We schedule the conferences after school for one week and have five students lead a conference each day. The parents wait outside until their children invite them into the classroom. Next the children offer cookies and juice to their parents followed by inviting them to sit down at their conference table. The meeting proceeds with the children showing their parents their portfolio and then they give their parents a tour of the classroom. Finally they thank their parents for coming and the children go outside while the parents complete an evalution form for us as teachers and an evaluation form for the children.

The children's evaluation form is short, just two stars (the parents write what impressed them) and one wish (something that they hope their chid works on the following semester. This year will be our fourth doing them. It is such a rewarding experience for the children to be able to share about their academic growth with their parents for nearly 45 minutes. I learned how to do the student led conferences at the Kindergarten Conference in California each March. A woman named Linda Banda presented on how to do them with younger children and her methods have proven to be very effective. She presents every year if your interested.

Student led conferences
Posted by: Debbie

As mentioned, student led conferences take lots of planning, but it's a wonderful process. (It's metacognition or 'knowing what you know')

For writing, students choose samples every two-three weeks. We brainstorm as a group what good writers do, and break this into process (ie. I plan my piece in different ways and product...Has a 'grabber' beginning-it hooks you). These were from their list generated this year. Then they complete a form to reflect on the following: I chose this piece because...'The day my dog died was one of the saddest in my life.' This what it shows I can do as a 'I worked hard to add words that convey my feelings.'

They choose problems/activities from their math/science logs and brainstorm what mathematicians and scientists do...The form is similar. For social studies, they've usually completed some project and their self reflection is added to the works.

We schedule the families in groups of perhaps three families per half hour. The kids have generated a list of the things they are sharing with their families (think Open House), and everything's ready to go as they arrive. They start at a table if one's available, or by viewing the artifacts around the room (author study responses, art works, etc.) My monitoring book is out and parents are able to glance at their child's current DRAs, benchmark writing samples, problem solving and other assessments. I take time with each family, but it is never very long because their child is so busy spotlighting his/her accomplishments. The 'unofficial' conference times (Winter and End of Year), we ask the families to bring in a dessert to share and we celebrate their learning together. There are several professional books written on student led conferences...go to Heinemann or Stenhouse or Christopher Gordon publishers for titles.

Re: Student Led Conferences
Posted by: Volleyann

It is required that our 6th graders complete student led conferences. Each teacher does it differently. It helps me out since I have a large ELL population in my class and having an interpretter at all of them doesn't usually work all the time. I usually have a checklist for the students. We practice it the week before the conferences. It went from them introducing me to their parents, showing them their seats, going over the report card and explaining why they got the grade that they got. Since we are departmentalized it helps that the students are there to explain the grade since I might not know specifics about their performance in that class. Then, I have them go over their portfolios if time permits. If I see the student not going in the right direction, I redirect or jump in. Some teachers grade this, but I didn't. The students were already super nervous.

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Student Led Conferences
Posted by: iluv2nd

We were required to run such conferences at my last school. I have sheets to reflect on learning in math, reading and writing. I have student sheets to prepare for the conference (checklists), evaluation forms, forms for favorites like read alouds and special projects and much more. We stored our "portfolio" of stuff in pizza boxes that the kids decorated with artwork, photos and mementos from the year. They made great long term storage boxes where families could add items from extra curricular and community activities for the year. We practiced the conference with peers prior to the actual day. I staggered parent start times every 15 minutes and often had 3 conferences going at once. I did very little but thank families for coming and snapping a photo of each child as they presented the material. These photos went home later. It was a great experience but time consuming to organize.

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Student led conferences
Posted by: katie

The student evaluation form I created has categories for each area I would like discussed at the meeting. (math, language arts, science, s.studies, peer relationships, following directions, etc....whatever you want discussed) Each category has a number grade system from 1-5 and a space for student comments regarding their strengths and weaknesses in that area. The form is very simple for the kids to follow. For example: In the category of math a student may grade themselves a 2, meaning they do not think they're doing that great. Then they explain their grade in the space that follows, commenting on what they think they do well and where they are having problems. Usually the kids do not write much but will explain in much more detail when they are sitting with their parents. This allows the parents to hear what their children are having trouble with and gives me a little more insight as well.

I always discuss this process with the kids and demonstrate how to fill out the form. Some parents do not want their children present at the meeting, these conferences go about as normal. But, those including the students seem so much more beneficial for all involved.

student led
Posted by: imalith

The best experience I have ever had with conferences was when I tried student led conferences last fall. I'm sure there are a million ways to approach this task, but I'll tell you how I set it up with my sixth grade students.

Preparation was the key. We had been saving important parts of classwork in folders for quite sometime. Students examined that work and compared it to the information found in their progress reports.

I prepared a very basic script for students to follow and they filled in their thoughts. As I remember, it was something like...

My grade in reading was "blank". The reason I earned this grade was because... (then they wrote in their own ideas based on the progress report).

Students were told to highlight all the positives they could find in their progress reports and we kept the conferences very upbeat. We also talked about goals and specific areas for improvement.

We reviewed the scripts a few times with trusted friends and I reviewed what they wrote and listened in to their practice conferences.

At conference time students did a fabulous job. It was so great to see them take ownership for their grades. They really did know what skills they had mastered and what they needed to work on. Some were very nervous, but some were very proud of their accomplishments.

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1st grade student led
Posted by: Debbie

I've done this two different ways-both times during spring conferences though so the kids are a little more independant. One way was stations set up around the room for each subject (s.s./sci.; making words-language arts; reading/journals; math games; and computer) and the children take their parents around to each station and show what they have been working on in that content area. This was timed and parents did have time slots so they would visit with me also. Another type was more of the open house where the children had a list of areas they were to show their parents-basically show what they do at their literacy stations, show their writer's workshop spiral, log onto the computer and show their slideshow they created, etc.. They were to check off the list as each station was visited. Music, gym and art rooms were also on the list as places to visit. During this time I would visit with parents at stations and simply interact. Of course, for both types of conferences, I had the children do a lot of role playing before hand and made sure they understood the expectations for student led conferences.

Student Led Conference
Posted by: Laura H.

I did these last year and LOVED it. I teach fourth grade. Each student had a folder with all sorts of papers, that we gathered the week before. We had a meeting schedule that the children practiced daily and followed infront of their parents. Here is what we did:

1. Teachers introduce themselves and subject area
2. Students began by presenting a choice piece of work (We gave them four choices and they choose one.)
3. Teacher shared trimester assesments, writing prompt grade and one positive, one negative about the child
4. Student played dice math game with thier parent (only two rolls per person) and we said they could finish it up at home
5. Student told parent how to write a 5 point paragraph
6. By this time, the next group had knocked on the door (we tell them to do this with a sign on the door. It keeps things going). If the parents have any questions, we usually take them then. But since another group is waiting, it cuts down on long, drawn out conversations.
7. We had the parents a letter asking them to mail a letter to school address to their child. We snuck this to them on the way out the door. It tells the child how proud they are of them and discusses what they can improve on together. The kids LOVED getting mail at school that was positive from home.