Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Secret to Parent Conference Success





Hi this is Jessica Zannini from Notes from the Portable and today I want to tell you about how I was able to increase my classroom community through Student-Led Conferences.

Do the thoughts of upcoming parent conferences fill you with anxiety?  Parent conferences don't have to overwhelm your October schedule!  I am going to let you in on a little secret....have student-led conferences.

I am sure that most of you have had kids waiting in the hallway while you have a parent conference (there are times for those, but not often).  The parent is not really listening to you, because they are worried about what is happening in the hallway, or watching a younger sibling toddle around your classroom.  The kid is panicking thinking of all of the possible things you could be telling their parent(s).  By letting the student lead the conference, the conference becomes more meaningful to all of you!

Here are simple steps to take in letting your students take responsibility for their learning. (Don't forget to download your FREEBIES!

  1. Start teaching the students how to monitor their own behavior.  Using a weekly self-assessment can help students track and monitor their classroom behaviors.  (Want to learn more?  Read this post Are Your Students Self-Assessing?)
  2. Collect work samples.  Make it a point to keep examples of student work in a folder. Keep the good and bad samples.  Let the students pick most of the items to put in the folder.  If you start at the beginning of the year, take 1-2 items a week.  If you are starting this the week before conferences, don't fret, just collect what you can.
  3. Schedule the conferences well in advance.  Use email, the remind app, or even a good old fashion phone call to remind parents of the upcoming conferences.  Be sure to tell them that the student is leading the conference and should be with them.  In the form you use for sign up, let them know how you will run these student-led conferences and give them an option to set an additional conference or extend the time if they would like to speak with you alone.
  4. Practice during class.  Speaking standards are an important part of education. Teach your students how to lead these conferences.
    • Model a student-led conference where you are the student and one of your students is the parent.
    • Let the students go through their work samples and think about what they want to discuss.
    • Let the students practice with a partner.
    • Use the weekly assessment or your own weekly documentation system to show growth throughout the first quarter.

More Info on Student-Led Conferences: 

  • The great thing about student-led conferences is that you can schedule more than one at a time.  No longer do you have to worry about the times being doubled up and you can easily reschedule missed conferences during the times you have blocked off already.  You can rotate in and out of conferences as needed.  Parents who are early or late can hop right in and not have to stand in the hallway worrying about where and what they must do next.

* This schedule was based on a wonderful school where I had lunches free.  
I also tried to schedule around my family needs too.  


  • You know the students who will really need more guidance.  Plan to meet with those students and practice prior to the conference.  Schedule those conferences individually.
  • Having the students lead the conferences makes them more authentic.  Parents are interested and engaged.  AND if you have a behavior issue and the discussion is led by the student being honest about what is happening, the issue is typically resolved much quicker (if not immediately).  No longer are you making accusations, the kids are telling what happens.
  • You ARE part of the conference.  The difference is that it is no longer your show.  You are a part of the talk, not the only one talking.  If you have more than one conference occurring at one time, treat it as if you are the hostess at a party.  Give everyone the greeting and attention they need and move to the next, then circle back around.  
Click HERE to get your Student-Led Conference FREEBIES.  And if you know others who could use this information, please share it or pass it on!  

I'd love to hear about your student-led conferences experiences.  Please comment below or Keep in Touch by following me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Notes from the Portable, Teachers Pay Teachers or Twitter

Thursday, September 22, 2016

4 Fun Fall Math Freebies


Happy autumnal equinox... It's FALL y'all!

This is Kristin from School and the City and I'm so excited about today's post. I thought we could kick off this fall season with a collection of FREE fall math ideas and resources!

ADDITION

I just adore this super-cute "Add the Room" activity by Kamp Kindergarten. My favorite thing about this is her alternative idea to place the task cards in a mini photo album and have students write the answers using dry erase markers. What a fun idea for early finishers!

Click HERE to download.

PLACE VALUE

Mandy from Mandy's Tips for Teachers is full of fun fall-themed ideas. I love these candy corn puzzles! Students will create a candy corn by matching a number in standard form to it's word form and expanded form. You can differentiate for your students by using puzzles to the hundreds place or puzzles to the thousands place. I can't wait to use this as a review station with my kiddos; I know they will love it! 

Click HERE to download.
EVEN AND ODD

This next freebie, my own, is an oldie but goodie. It's been my featured free product in my TPT store for years now. I actually use it with my own students every year!

It's an even and odd SCOOT, or "around the room," activity. I have the numbers represented in four different ways to add rigor and variety: standard form, addition equations, ten frames, and word form.

Click HERE to download.
ESTIMATION

This last freebie, also by Mandy at Mandy's Tips for Teachers, is a recording sheet that you can use as a center during math. You can bring in real pumpkin seeds (which I think would be super cute) or use counters as the "seeds" for estimation.
Click HERE to download.
Will you be using one of these fun freebies in your classroom this fall? Let us know if a comment below!




Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Cooperative Learning Strategy You Forget About

Do you get stressed trying to squeeze in all the curriculum you need to cover? This is Deanna from A Primary Owl and believe me this is my daily struggle! I teach third grade and the amount of Social Studies and Science topics we have to cover is crazy....plus we take District Assessments over all these topics so nothing can be skipped or else my students will bomb the tests.

One of my go-to strategies is one that has been around a long time, it's one of those oldies but goodies. So when I am crunched for time, I have my students JIGSAW the topics and let THEM be the experts. They love this part, I tell them they are going to be the teachers. Third graders just eat that up:)
STEP ONE:
Here is a great website that can give you the break down of all the steps but the first thing I decide is how I want to break apart the material being studied. Often for me, it is a chapter in a textbook. For example, right now we are studying the Habitats of Georgia so I divided the groups into the different regions.
STEP TWO:
Then decide how many students will need to be in each group. I let my students pick the group they want to be in but you can also assign groups. Then give the groups their guidelines on how they are going to study and present the material. This is where large chart paper comes in handy! I almost always have my groups make a chart.
STEP THREE:
After each group has time to study the material and decide how to "teach" it, it is time to do the presenting. The idea is that you take one expert from each group and form the JIGSAW groups, where each person presents their material to a small group. Sometimes, I have the groups present to the class as a whole (depending on the subject matter and how many groups I have).
STEP FOUR:
One important step, is to make sure you have a way for students to demonstrate what they learned from each group. You may want them to take notes as each person presents, or have a short formative assessment.
FREEBIE:
This strategy works so well and students love it. They enjoy learning from their peers and I love being able to cover topics in an efficient way. You can get a copy of my planning guide by clicking the picture:
So don't forget about this awesome strategy the next time you're trying to squeeze it all in!

Don't forget to keep checking back with us, we've got some great tips for fall coming up!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

10 Adorable Apple Crafts for September


Hey y'all!  It's Ashley from Just Reed Blog!  September is the perfect time for some fabulous apple crafts!  Especially with Johnny Appleseed's birthday coming up on the 26th.  Here are some of my top apple craft picks!  Be sure to pin these so you can find them later!

I also have an Apple Pack you'll want to check out for some other great ideas for Apple Week!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Apple-Week-A-Cross-Curricular-Unit-Celebrating-Apples-and-Johnny-Appleseed-868384






Sunday, September 11, 2016

How to Make a Quick and Easy Apple Sensory Bin






Hello, everyone.  I am Tami from Kamp Kindergarten.  It is hard to believe that we are well into September. The first day of fall is less than 2 weeks away.  Johnny Appleseed’s birthday is just over 2 weeks away.   

I am going to share an easy and fun apple sensory bin for your little learners. This idea will work if you are not allowed to use food items in sensory bins. This sensory bin will be great for autumn/fall and Johnny Appleseed's birthday.




I used a round green tub from Dollar Tree, a green hula skirt from Dollar Tree, and apples from JoAnn’s.   You may substitute other containers or greenery.  I chose the round green tub to make it appear like the top of an apple tree.  You may substitute whatever container you have. 







Cut the bottom part of the skirt from the waistband.  You may use as much or as little as you wish depending on the size of you container and how full you want it to be.   I cut about half way across the skirt—about 15 inches. There will be a small area left at the top where all the strips are still connected. 






 
Complete the cut to separate each strip. I left the strips long without additional cuts.  You may wish to cut them in half lengthwise depending upon the students in your class. You will definitely want to cut them in half if you have little ones prone to wrapping things around their necks.




Put the strips in the tub.  You may choose to add some type of fragrance to your tub such as apple or apple pie spices.  You can put an apple or apple pie scented candle in the tub with the strips.  Store it overnight or longer in a trash bag tied closed.  If you have little ones with allergies or asthma, you will probably want to skip the fragrance.

You may use other options for the greenery.  Leaves from silk greenery, green paper shreds for gift bags, or Easter grass will work.  I know.  Easter grass in September? Well, I am sure I am not the only teacher who has swooped in and grabbed Easter grass when it is clearance priced the week after Easter.  Even if you don’t have Easter grass in September, there is probably a teacher in your grade level who has a stash she snapped up from the clearance aisle.  





Add apples.  You can add as many or as few as you wish. 

You can add various items to the sensory bin such as magnetic letters or numbers, bottle caps with numbers, sorting shapes, or building blocks with letters to supplement current skills covered. 

 






Apple themed learning activities are perfect for this sensory bin. You may already have apple themed flashcards with various skills, matching cards, clip cards, and around the room cards.  The picture above shows the sensory bin with pieces from Apple Number Puzzles, a FREE resource for you and your little learners.  Enjoy! 


Apple Number Puzzles FREEBIE


I hope you and your learners have a wonderful fall!










 



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