Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.
Parents, this week I would like to remind you about coming in for Computer Lab Student-led Conferences that I wrote to you about in an earlier “Friday Folder” post this year.
Students in Grades 1 to 4 have been working on “I Can…” statements where they are accessing their own progress in skill development and reaching mastery objectives. At conference time (November 6 or 7th), the lab will be completely open for you and your student to come in and go over these reflection sheets—either before or after your scholar’s classroom conference. The students will be asked to show you (and me) evidence of skills that they have accomplished (aided by the “I Can…” reflections). During open conference time, you won’t have to sign up for a specific time slot; just show up and your student will look for an open computer to show you his/her work. If the regular school conference times don’t fit your schedule, I am able to meet with you and your student at an alternative time (just contact me at email@example.com). During the conference time, your student will be in charge of leading the conference and showing his/her work as well as what we are working on in the lab. I will be listening in on conferences and will meet with you quickly in order to gain more understanding of your student’s interests and learning styles.
It is important that the “I Can…” sheets STAY IN YOUR STUDENT’S FOLDER so please don’t take them home after the conference! You and your scholar will receive these at Report Card time, after I’ve had time to meet individually with them and sign off on their skills.
I know Conference night can be a pretty busy event (especially if you have more than one student in the school!), so I anticipate that your time in the Computer Lab will be 10-15 minutes. The most important thing is that your scholar shows you his/her “I Can…” reflections and evidence of work, as well as the weskids.com website. As I stated above, I will be “flying” around the lab and listening in on the conversations that your student will be leading.
But there’s one more thing that I am going to ask from you: a positive story about your child or a quick anecdote about your child’s main passion/interest in life.
Here’s my reasoning:
I have almost 500 students. I work very hard to get to know every student as an individual through routines such as having students take on roles like “Teacher’s Assistant” (whereby they get to help teach the lesson) or by working with students in small groups. I’ve started a book group on Friday Lunch time for fourth graders and will switch over to third grade once we finish the current book. I believe, the more I can connect with students, the better I can serve them as learners.
A few years ago, I had a very shy student in my class. In the busyness of class, and only seeing her every six days, I admit that it took me weeks to realize how very advanced her computer skills were (not only was she shy, she was also very humble). At conference time, she and her parents came to the lab and I shared with them my observations of her skills and compliments I had recently given her (which, by the way, she hadn’t shared with her parents! I told you, she is humble).
Her parents were overjoyed to hear the feedback, but more importantly, they started telling me things about the student that I never knew. For instance, she loves horses and is a rider. She also wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up and is interested in learning more about how to help animals in need.
This conversation took no more than 5 minutes, but it completely changed my instruction with her. I was able to constantly incorporate her interests in her work and relied on this new information to ask her to make connections between her interests and the work we were doing in Computer to the whole class. Rather than remain a shy student who rarely offered information, she evolved into a strong leader, so much so that she took a leadership role in a Tech Club I was offering after school at that time. She threw herself deeper into researching ways to help animals and established a small group of other students who joined her efforts.
I share this anecdote because I believe that the story her parents told me that night at the conference strengthened my connection with this student and helped me to help her better. I constantly ask students to share their passions and interests in the work they do, but without a doubt, that “inside info” from parents helps me get to know a student so much better and on a deeper level. You, after all, are the main expert on your child.
So… to restate: Will you please either take time with me during conferences to tell me about your scholar or if you’re short on time, would you jot down a short paragraph/list about their interests or a positive story about them? I will keep notes based on your comments/stories in my (secure) records and reflect upon them as well as use them when meeting individually with students.
I am confident this will help me get to know your student better, and thus, help me serve their individual needs and interests better.
Things you can do at home with your students:
- Ask them what skills they have been learning in Computer.
- Ask them what skills they can do independently.
- Ask them what they are proud of.
- Ask them what they want to show most at Conference time.
- Ask them what their favorite part of the year has been so far.