Trying Student Led Conferences a New Way
I'm certain that we are all very familiar with student-led conferences and I've seen inspiring examples of ways that teachers have set these conferences up. Every year, no matter which school I've been at, I've always set up stations/centers for the families to rotate through. I've tried different things like using the iPad as a way to give the stations digital instructions (made by students prior), having checklists, not having checklists, I've also tried a center where the families had to sit and write a reflection together at the end of the conference before leaving. I was going to set up stations as I always had until a fellow Kindergarten teacher at our school, Maria Peters, told me about the way she sets up her student-led conferences. She explained to me that she had the families stay at one table and prepared multiple sets of all the materials they would need for each center so that families could go through them at their own pace. She would then move from table to table and discuss with each family at some point during the conference. She explained that her reasoning for setting her classroom up this way was so that there wouldn't be any idle wait time for the families. They could take as much time as they needed to go through the different activities or they could go at a faster pace and when they were done they could leave. I thought that this was a smart way to manage the flow of the conference so I gave it a try.
Each table had a document stand with each child's self-assessment. This included a written piece by the student saying one thing that they think they have learned in Kindergarten and can do well now, and one thing that they want to work on and become better at. This could be anything from reading and writing to their behavior. This sheet also contained an image of them which acted as a trigger image. Once scanned with Aurasma a video overlay would appear of the child welcoming their parents to the student-led conference. Most of them went something like this "Welcome mom and dad to my student-led conference! I'm so exicted to show you what I've been learning!" This piece was also how families knew which table they were assigned to.
I created this booklet using a student-led conference poster I found on Teachers Pay Teachers. This poster was free. Here is an image of the booklet with all the instructions for the families to go through the acitivies.
Here are some of the materials needed for the acivities that are in this booklet:
The game Roll, Spell, and Cover can also be found on Teachers Pay Teachers. It is in a packet and is USD13.00
For the parts where a QR code was involved, I attached the QR code to the project, in this case a timeline and a memory box. The kids made a movie using iMovie of the timeline discussing each photo and how they've changed through the years. The memory box was linked to a ThingLink where all the objects inside were laid out in a picture and on top of each picture the students linked a video of them explaining why that object was important to them.
How did it all go? I think that the flow of things ran very smoothly this time because families could go at the pace they wanted. There was also not as much hestation from the students as I've experienced in the past. I've found that if students were shy they would need a lot encouragement to move from one center to the next and to get started. This year they sat down at their table and just got started. The only time I noticed they began they may have been self-consious or not quite themselves was when I came over and started discussing with them and their family. It can be a very strange situation for kids!
I did miss seeing the families move around the classroom and get to explore more parts of the room rather than stay in one spot. I wonder if this took something away from the experience. Obviously if I were doing something on a larger scale or could not replicate tools that were needed, I would not have been able to set up the conferences in this manner. What do you think? Would this set up work for you?