Friday, October 5, 2012

Mini Conferences

Over the past few years as I've become more aware of the necessity to improve my teaching strategies, I've read about the importance of having individual conferences regularly with your students.  I've struggled with finding the time to do this, especially in high school where you only see the students for 1 hour a day and typically have between 20 and 35 students in a class.  Over the last year I've managed to find a starting point.  Today I did this with my grade 9's and found it very successful.  Here is what I do.

Yesterday the students wrote an assessment.  My weekly assessment's are not summative in nature - I will record their level of understanding to collect evidence of learning, but we are to learn from the results, which really makes them formative in nature and we will do additional assessments based on what we get from the assessment.  But the kicker is that I have to make sure that the feedback the students are getting from these is effective and will move learning forward.  I'm starting to figure this out.  I haven't mastered it by any means, but I am getting better.   What I did today was taught the next lesson and then while the student's were working on their practice, I called the students up one at a time.  We looked through their assessment.  Some students I gave a second opportunity on a particular question.  Some had not answered the question in it's entirety so I gave them an opportunity to complete it so I could really gage their level of understanding.  Others had made one mistake at a particular level so I allowed them a second chance to see if they just had a mental block yesterday.  Then for those who had questions incorrect, we discussed these.  I asked how they had arrived at their answer so that I wasn't assuming an incorrect thought and then we corrected that misconception.  It went really well.  I had enough time with the students and they got 1 on 1 feedback.  I then had them complete their learning log as a reflection on the assessment.  The three questions I asked were:  What was one thing you were proud of; What was one thing you were disappointed in; and What follow up needs to be done to improve?   I was impressed with their reflections.  I had a student who was proud that she tried on the exam, but knew that her follow up was to practice more.  I had a student who, the day before the assessment wrote that he was struggling with this material, get a 2.5 and write he was proud of how well he had done!   I had a student who had 3.5, write for his follow up that he needs to spend more time reviewing his assessment before handing it in.   These are good reflections and ones that need to be followed up on after the next assessment to see if they made those changes!

I am happy with how it went and plan on continuing this process.  My next goal would be to find time to do this before the assessment as well!  

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