the Weekly | 10.26
For Your Hands: Help Ss Monitor Their Mastery
Help students take ownership of their progress towards mastering standards.
1. As you introduce a new standard, spend a little time in class discussing what it means and what mastering it might look like. Help students see how this discussion can translate into a rubric.
2. Help students keep track of the opportunities they have to learn more about and to practice that standard.
3. Provide dedicated time for students to check-in on their progress towards mastering the standard. You might have them review the rubric or components they identified in the initial discussion. Have them make a claim about their level of mastery, highlight evidence in the form of practice opportunities related to the standard, and provide reasoning that explains how their performance on this body of work supports their claim.
4. Develop a schedule for quick conferences with students to discuss these self-assessments and identify points of agreement / disagreement. Help students set goals and make a plan for next steps.
Benefits of Student Conferencing
1. I get the chance to know the students on a more personal level. This allows for a better approach to differentiated instruction.
2. Students feel known on a deeper level, which then increases trust. This, in turn, leads to a higher level of student self-efficacy and helps prevent discipline issues. But it’s more than that. Before doing one-on-one conferencing, I was accidentally ignoring some of the quiet kids who were doing just fine in class. This helps guarantee that I meet with each student.
3. Students are empowered to ask questions about their work and to reflect upon both the product and the process. My students tend to know how they are doing in my class because of the weekly conferences.
4. This saves time for me. Every conference is essentially a chance for ongoing formative assessment. As a result, I spend less time grading (especially leaving feedback on student work).
5. It allows me to thrive as an introverted teacher. I need this time one-on-one with students because the large crowd can feel exhausting.
Some Practical Tips
» Find the best moments where kids can be talking to each other while working independently. This allows for the class to work at a buzzing, not-too-loud noise level while I talk to students individually. I find that the warm-up and project times work best for this.
» Find the right location. I have a spot in front of the board where I have a standing center. I look out at the class and stand directly next to the student in the conference. We share a laptop computer screen as we discuss the questions.
» Give students specific days when they know they will have a conference. This allows students to feel prepared ahead of time.
Three Types of Conferences
1. Advice Conference: This conference is all about learning specific skills that students are missing. Each student must ask the teacher a series of questions based upon an area where he or she is struggling. This is a chance for targeted one-on-one attention and explicit help with a strategy. Students guide the process, tapping into the teacher’s expertise. This has the added bonus of encouraging students to embrace the idea that mistakes as a part of the learning process. It sets up a classroom culture where every student must be humble enough to admit that they are still struggling in some area of reading.
2. Reflection Conferences: Instead of telling students what to do, the goal is to draw out student reflection. The teacher uses a series of reflective questions to lead students through the process of meta-cognition and into the setting and monitoring of goals. As the year progresses, the teacher asks fewer follow-up questions and the students begin sharing how they are doing without the aid of pre-chosen questions.
3. Assessment Conference: Unlike the reflection conference, the focus here is less about reflecting on the process and more about students judging their own mastery of the content.
Use link in title to access a chart to help guide your plan for these conferences.
By the same author: Here's how to empower students while also hitting the standards