This picture has been floating around Pinterest. My program coach emailed it to our staff today and had it translated into Spanish, so we can share it with parents at conferences this week. It’s pretty powerful.
Of course, I’d like to add that we get a lot more bang for our buck when kids read at their independent levels. I think it’s so important that we tell our kids their levels and teach them how to choose books appropriately.
I take my kids to the school library and show them how to look up Lexile levels on books. My kids know their Lexiles and readability scores (San Diego Quick). My only homework assignment is a reading log. However, it’s more than just a record of what students are reading. They practice their elements of literature on comprehension skills with their home reading. They may cheat and not read the entire 20 minutes, but they have to at least read enough to say, determine the point of view, write about its effect, and find quotes to validate their answers.
It’s almost that time again! The emotional roller coaster of parent-teacher conferences. I actually enjoy parent-teacher conferences quite a bit, but they are draining! I’m preparing for our conferences next week by going to bed early tonight. 🙂 But I also prepared with my students yesterday.
My team uses student-led conferences. Students come with their parents, sit with their teachers (one at a time), and they proceed to talk about their grades, behavior, reading level, etc. to their parents. Teachers are there to support and add any information that’s omitted or that students have trouble explaining (like what a Lexile is).
How does this happen? Through simple, easy preparation. Today, I printed detailed progress reports from my gradebook for 1st quarter. I handed them out and gave students a reflection sheet. They answered 5 questions:
1. What was your grade in language arts?
2. How do you feel about your grade?
3. What did you do to earn your grade?
4. What will you do to improve/maintain your grade?
5. What have you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
I also include a space for additional comments/ points of discussion. I glanced through and students wrote they wanted to talk to their parents about their behavior, about how to improve their Lexiles, about how they are “off task in class” (Yes, students do take responsibility for their actions if you push them to!) Other students wrote things like “Tell my parents they should take me to McDonald’s for getting an A”. Either way, it’s nice to give kids a voice.
I love student-led conferences because they are so meaningful. Even if some of your students’ parents through no fault of their own are so overwhelmed with everything else in their lives, the students take responsibility for their grade and behavior in front of you and other significant adults in their lives. This also makes life easier for teachers because parents hear about their kids’ shortcomings and successes from their kids. So the blame and the praise go where they belong … with the students!
I’d love to hear about what you do for parent-teacher conferences … succcesses and challenges!
Each year, I try to do a little more with students and data. I started with students keeping portfolios and writing a one sentence reflection on all their graded assignments. It sounds tedious, but it takes 10 minutes a week once the kids are trained. Then, I added graphing test scores and using district benchmark tests for goal setting. Last year, I mandated students to keep track of their goals and the work they’ve done to achieve those goals and tried to be a little more purposeful about data talks.
This year, I’m doing my best to start strong with individual data talks. While students work in literacy centers, I’ve been pulling kids back one by one. I administer the San Diego Quick Reading Assessment. I share their AIMS scores and San Diego reading level. The conversation pretty much goes as follows:
“Here is your AIMS score: ___. This means . . . Now, let’s look at your reading level. The last grade you finished was 7th, so you should be able to read at a 7th grade level independently and an 8th grade level with a teacher. Your scores are a little below/ right on/ a little above. This means, when we go to the library on Thursday, I’m going to help you pick out a book at your independent level. Have you ever read ___? That’s an example of a book that would be a great fit for you.” I follow up with some encouragement if kids are low or some motivation if they are high because it doesn’t matter where we start. We need to grow!
This does take several days to get through all my students, but I’ve got to tell you, it makes a difference. Students have a right to know their levels, and when they realize that their growth is so important that the teacher is willing to spend one-on-one time discussing their abilities and offering support and encouragement, the students really respond. Some of the students might get a little upset if they are very far below, but they quickly come back with a little TLC and a few encouraging remarks.
What do you do with data talks? Any ideas?