Student-led Conferences & A Freebie

As promised today I'm posting all about student-led conferences.  (Keep reading for your Freebie)  I was first introduced to student-led conferences when I was teaching kindergarten.  I remember having no clue as to what they really were and as I started to understand I began thinking " you want me to do this with kinders."   I was pretty hesitant about the idea and was panicking just thinking about how this style of conference would run in my classroom.  For this particular year we were told that we'd be doing student-led conferences as the first conference of the year, which made the idea even more scary!

I began searching the internet for all things titled "student-led conferences."  At the time I don't remember finding a lot of resources that were geared for the early primary grades so I picked out ideas I liked and starting tweaking them to fit my needs.  Basically I created goal sheets for my students and also outlined a classroom tour with activities for the students to complete in front of their parents.  Prior to the conference we discussed students' roles and practiced the conference layout.  Then it was time for the main event and overall, it went GREAT!  After this first student-led conference I was hooked!

Student-led Conferences are just that, they are run by the students!  They promote self reflection, organization, responsibility, and communication.  They encourage students to take ownership of their learning and allow parents to get an inside look at how their student is really doing.  No more reading straight from the report card and feeling as if your running out of time.  Parents become partners in the process and work with you and their student to meet student goals.  And it is a beautiful thing to see!

So as I was looking back in my plan book I know some schools are already beginning to think about their first conferences of the year and decided that I wanted to actually create a resource for student-led conferences.  This resource is completely editable and can be modified to be used anytime throughout the year.  It includes your basic conference letters and notes, as well as editable station signs and direction forms so that YOU can create your own activities tailored to your current class needs.  Here's a look at how I would set up student-led conferences in my class.

-1 Month prior to Student-led conferences:
1.Send home Family Letter/Sign Up Sheet
2.Introduce students to their “My Portfolio”  folder.  Explain that in the coming weeks they will begin to prepare for their student-led conferences.  During this month pencil in class time for students to fill out their “My Portfolio” pages.  

-3 Weeks Prior:
1.Finalize Conference Schedule & Send home note to Families
2.This week continue working on “My Portfolio” pages with class.

-2 Weeks Prior:
1.Identify the Station Activities that you want students to focus on and edit/prepare station signs and direction pages.  Stations look different for each classroom and generally reflect what your students are working on at this time.
2.By the end of the week have student portfolios completed.

-1 Week Prior:
1.Send home Family Conference Reminder Notes
2.Discuss, Model, and Practice the student-led conference.  Be sure to include station activities and have students talk through their portfolios. (Review week of if time)

-Student-led Conference:
1.Set up Stations and Classroom for Student-led Conferences
2.Welcome, Sign In, and Introduce Overview of Events
3.Let students lead their conference while you circulate and occasionally “pop in.”

This is the actual conference schedule.  The conference block lasts for 45 minutes but there are 3 Families present at a time.  In the past I would hold 15 minute parent-teacher conferences so time wise it's the same.

45-Minute block of time/3 Families per Block: After welcome they choose order of stations.
Station 1:  5 Minute Welcome & Sign In (Greet & explain procedures)
Station 2: 5 Minute Reading Activity
Station 3: 5 Minute Math Activity
Station 4: 5 Minute ABC or Spelling Activity
Station 5: 5 Minute Science Activity
Station 6: 5 Minute Writing Activity
Station 7: 5 Minute Social Studies Activity
Station 8: 10 Minute “My Portfolio” discussion

Well, there you have it!  Sorry if this post was a little long just thought I'd give you a look at how I'd run things.  All materials you see are part of my student-led conference set.  You can check out this set by clicking on the image below.  Also if you do student-led conferences I'd love to hear what you do!  Leave a comment and let's chat :)

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