Hybrid teaching and learning has impacted so many of my typical systems as a teacher. One thing that I have had to re-imagine this year is conferences: especially with scholars both in-person and at home at the same time.
To prepare for conferences in the past, I’ve used a portfolio system where scholars have filed away their work after reviewing their feedback. This has also required passing papers back and forth, as well as attaching rubrics or handwriting feedback. This process is long and tedious and takes away from precious learning time. Due to COVID-19 and hybrid learning this year, I have used very little paper for scholars to turn in, but instead have turned to great education technology tools, like EdLight!
For the past two weeks, I have been supporting my scholars to prepare for Scholar Led Conferences. Each family signed up for a 45 minutes time block on one of three available days. These conferences are not to be confused with a typical parent-teacher conference, which has an emphasis on adults talking. Our conference focus is on the scholar doing the talking, and an even bigger emphasis on growth and progress over perfection.
We started preparing for Scholar Led conferences by leading an example conference on my own performance, where my co-teacher stood in as my family. I used example work samples that I used in class and uploaded to EdLight. After my model conference, we debriefed the experience and thought about the following questions:
After we debriefed my sample conference, we broke down the preparation over the course of the week into bite size pieces. Scholars were responsible for completing 2-3 slides in 15 minute chunks each day. To support scholars in developing their presentations for scholar-led conferences, we started with a slide deck that included the following reflection questions:
Pre-pandemic teacher me would have passed back the portfolio’s that I kept for each scholar and directed them to go through the papers to find the work that aligned with the answers to the questions above. Instead, I directed scholars to find the answers to these questions in their EdLight account. Scholars were able to easily navigate through submitted assignments, remind themselves of their feedback, and choose pieces of work to add to their own slide decks.
Scholars then took a screenshot of their work, with feedback, or downloaded their work photo and added them into their slide deck. Most scholars chose to include a “before” and “after” photo that truly captured their learning from this year.
A scholar used the above two exit tickets as two examples to demonstrate their growth in using different algorithms to show off their multi-digit multiplication knowledge. This particular scholar knew exactly what she wanted to demonstrate to her family and was able to easily navigate to find those work samples.
Of course, there were also scholars who could not see their growth in such an immediate way or needed support with which work samples to include. To help with these scholars, I looked through their portfolio using the new portfolio feature on EdLight and sent the scholar the name of a few possible assignments they could use. With this direction, some scholars even used some work that was mostly incorrect from the beginning of the year and then used work that is mostly correct. As long as scholars were able to describe the differences in the two work products they chose and explain the connection of these samples to their own personal growth, they got a green light from me. I was then able to push scholars to add to their slide deck the changes they made in their own work habits and classroom habits in order to move from mostly wrong to mostly correct on a daily basis.
I am excited to sit in on scholar led conferences, for both scholar and parent benefit. Scholars have made tremendous growth, despite so many things outside of our control stacked against them. I know parents are itching to hear these great things and scholars are both nervous and excited to talk about themselves, all with the help of EdLight on their side!