In the spirit of this growth mindset focus in Grade 7, my core team and I shifted around how we approached the Fall learning conferences.
The students would generally come to these conferences and they would share their insights and highlights from the last two months of school, but this time things really felt different. I noticed that typically students were somewhat awkward in these meetings: they didn’t always know what to say, they had a hard time navigating the dynamic between the two groups of adults in their life, and sometimes it seemed hard for them to hear the positive and constructive feedback offered.
This year, we asked the students to chose 2-3 artifacts from the last 2 months of school (we primed them with some key suggestions) that either show a GROWTH, a CHALLENGE, or a SUCCESS. We had students write about these artifacts on a Google Doc we created for them ahead of time and then during the conference, we opened up the document and shared their chosen pieces with their family.
As a teacher, I peppered their conversation with my own observations, or background of the project, and other important information to help the parents understand who their student is at this snapshot in time.
With the student in the driving seat, this round of conferences felt so refreshing and interesting. The girls did most of the talking and they got to tell the story they wanted to share about themselves as a learner (with input from me as well…but the beautiful thing was that they all said what I would have said anyway. At times, I actually had to qualify that what the child was struggling with was “age appropriate” and something that is very normal for being in Grade 7). Parents were able to see their child as a powerful protagonist in their own education and students had a clearer sense of what they needed to work on because they articulated it for themselves, rather than being told by someone else.
This artifact approach is something that is going to feed into our portfolios project for the year. My next mission is to try and decide how to document the learning. The options seem to be either Blogger, Sesame HQ, or Weebly. Any feedback or suggestions on any of these three platforms?