Sunday, 9 March 2014

Bright Ideas Blog Hop #2

I am excited to be teaming up with an amazing group of teacher bloggers, once again, to bring you the "Bright Ideas Blog Hop". This blog hop was created to bring you practical classroom ideas from a variety of teachers, from different grades and subject areas. I hope you find some great ideas that you can easily implement in your own classroom. 

Happy Hopping!

My "Bright Idea"

This month wraps up another term for me at work, so soon enough we will be in full student-led conference mode. Quite a bit of time will be set aside over the next couple of weeks to get the students "ready" to celebrate their learning with their parents!

This year marks my 9th year of teaching, and conferences have changed substantially over those 9 years. Gone are the days of sitting awkwardly across from a parent (usually without the student present) trying to fill the designated 15 minutes with conversation about his/her child. Gone are the "paper" portfolios, which contained work samples most parents had already seen at home. Now students are taught to celebrate their learning by actually "showing" their parents what they have been learning!

Here are some tips on how I go about setting up my student led conferences.

Make the students responsible

At least a week prior to conferences I start prepping my students. I inform them that there will be stations set up around the room, for them to take their parents to demonstrate different things they have learned this term. I provide simple instructions on the wall, but inform students that they are responsible for leading their parents through the room, and answering any questions they might have about the things we have done in class.

One thing I highly recommend doing is a run-through. The day before, or day of, I have the students do a mock-conference. They pair up (one student acting as student, and the other acting as parent) and act out a conference scenario. One thing they must do, is introduce their parent(s) to me, and introduce me to their parents (first and last names - just in case they are different than the student's).

To make sure everything runs smoothly and that the students remember their responsibilities, I create a checklist for them to fill in as they lead their parents through the conference.

Make a checklist

When the students enter the room, the first thing they do is grab a pencil and a checklist. The checklist is meant to be a helpful reminder to the students, as to what they are responsible for showing their parents. Since I work on a team of teachers, we create a checklist that covers all the main subject areas. Recently we added the last point, as most of the specialty teachers have a very slow (and long) night at conferences, this way we encourage the kids to head to these areas, even if it is just to introduce their parents.

I find adding the checklist to our evening, helps hold the students responsible

Make it interactive

Let's face it, not all parents are enthused about coming to conferences, especially in the middle years, so I want to at least engage them while they are in the room.

Here are some things my team and I have done in the past:
  • recreate a scene from a book they read as a class, and have students walk through the scene with their parents while describing the book.
  • set up an experiment for the students to demonstrate to their parents. Have a set of questions off to the side that students can ask their parents as they complete the experiment.
  • set up a competition between parent and child. I often use this in my math stations. I might set up a math center the students have done in class that involves a math game (war, concentration, etc). We've also had students compete against their parents on a 5 minute multiplication frenzy (we do these school-wide to strengthen mental math skills). This is one of the only times I see students eager to complete a frenzy...and most end up beating their parents! A huge boost to their confidence!
These are just a few ideas that are easy to set up, and make the evening a little more meaningful.

Make it meaningful

Once the students have completed their checklists, we usually enter them into a draw for a prize. Gives them a little more incentive to check off everything on the list. Hopefully all the work you have put in at this point has made for a very meaningful evening, for both parent and student. Before the parents leave, we ask for their opinion on the evening with a brief evaluation. These also get entered into a draw for a prize (usually a Starbucks gift card). I find that parents always feel more involved, when they feel that their opinions are being taken into consideration. These evaluations are great for helping plan for next conferences.

One more little idea I just came across on Pinterest from Teach n' Tex was this one:

I think this is a cute way to show your appreciation to the parents who attend. I will definitely put this out for next conferences.

I hope you enjoyed my "bright idea". I would love to hear about any ideas you have found to be successful during your own student-led conferences! 

If you’re looking for more great ideas, here is a great post by Lisa at Growing Firsties on partner reading tips. She shares some great tips that you will definitely want to check out!

Looking for something specific, browse the bright ideas below:

Make sure to check in next month for another batch of "bright ideas"!


  1. Great ideas, Kim! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I am going to try a different approach to student-led conferences this year! I really enjoyed reading all of your ideas. One thing I will definitely do this year is have students introduce their parents to me in the way you described!
    Thank you for the ideas!

    Seconds at the Beach

    1. You're welcome! I am glad you found some useful ideas.
      Good luck!

  3. Thanks for sharing how you go about student-led conferences! I have been intrigued by them for a while now and am contemplating using them in my own classroom.

    Sara :)
    The Colorful Apple

    1. I say go for it! It's a little more prep work in advance, but so little work at the actual conferences.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Thanks for your great idea! I love student lead conferences!!! I would like to know where you found the two documents you share. I think they would help me greatly! Thanks again!!!

    1. Hi Kriss,

      I created both the checklist and the evaluation form. Email me at and I will gladly send them your way.


  5. Student led conferences are so much better! It really gets the students involved in their own education and setting goals and all that wonderful stuff. Thanks for the great tips!

    The Math Maniac

    1. I would never go back to "traditional" conferences. Student-leds are much more meaningful!

  6. I wish we taught together! I run my conferences similar but now have some new ideas! Thanks {teacher love}

    1. You're welcome Kristy!

      I think we would make an awesome team! :)

  7. Thanks for sharing the innovative idea.
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