Archive for February 2013

Organizing for Conferences

February 15, 2013

Quotes of the Weekorganization_quotes

It’s not too early to get organized for conferences, like spring, they will be here before we know it.  When I was serving as a learning specialist with the task of converting a junior high to a middle school, I encountered student-led conferences.  Like we all do when we encounter something new and appealing, we learn everything we can about it, which is just what I did.  After the principal had given me the assignment to implement student-led conferences for the midterm of the fall semester, I knew I had to develop a plan to help teachers, students, and parents get ready for something new.  Before I even read the teacher evaluations, I knew that we had accomplished something worthwhile and almost magical for students and their families.  The response from teachers, parents, and students was overwhelmingly positive.

“Student-led conferences represent a highly effective way to communicate directly and authentically with parents.  When students direct the reporting process, information is communicated in a form everyone can understand and use.  Reviewing the portfolio during the conference becomes a learning experience for everyone involved.  As such, student-led conferences are an especially important part of the comprehensive reporting system” (Guskey & Bailey, 2001, pp. 190-199).48624870947801276_nttUHrJd_b

If you’re ready to try something new for conferences, we highly recommend student-led conferences and with that thought in mind, we have created two guides to implementing student-led conferences for middle school (grades 6, 7, and 8) and intermediate schools (grades 4, 5, and 6). The key word in this product is COMPLETE, it truly is a Complete Guide to Planning and Implementing Student-Led Conferences in Your Middle School or Elementary School and it is really just three steps:  Plan, Practice, Perform.  There are over 20 reproducible pages to facilitate the implementation of Student-Led Conferences in the fall and spring semesters.  The forms that are included are easily adapted to your school.  There are student ice-breaker activities designed for conference night as well as portfolio checklists, content specific reflections and follow-up evaluation forms for teachers, students, and parents.   If your school is not ready to move to Student-Led Conferences, the information included in this packet can be used by a grade level team or individual teacher.  It’s a system that was successfully implemented in a large middle school in an urban area with awesome results.  And, the bottom line is that Student-Led Conferences are good for students!

Guskey, T. R. & Bailey, J. M. (2001). Developing grading and reporting systems for student learning.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.





February 8, 2013

Quote of the Week:

fulrell quote

The best moments in teaching are when students are visibly engaged in an activity and aha moments are filling the air.  Anyone without a trained eye may not see the preparation and work that goes into a learning scene like that.  They may not even see the teacher, who is probably rotating around the room, answering questions, affirming responses, or just enjoying seeing uncapped potential captured, seeing learning unfolding.  My colleagues and I have experienced those moments and attempt to make those moments happen for other teachers and students in the work we do.  Some of that work are the lesson plans we create for teachers.

Here’s an opportunity to try out one of our best products for FREE: The Hunger Games Character Analysis Lesson Plan. It’s the perfect lesson to begin on day two or three of your novel unit, after students have read the first three chapters. This FREE lesson plan introduces the characters and provides an activity for character analysis that can be used throughout the reading of The Hunger Games. Included in this FREE lesson plan are a detailed, easy-to-implement, step-by-step lesson plan, four printable student handouts—character analysis activity sheet for Katniss, Peeta, and a character the student chooses to analyze throughout the novel as well as a Cast of Characters Chart. There are reproducible cards to form groups based on character names. This is one lesson that will quickly engage your students. Check out our store for other great lesson plans and classroom activities.

hunger games character analysis


Superbowl! Super Sale!!

February 1, 2013

Quote of the Week

I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.

Mark Twain

How do any of us make a decision, big or small, consequential or trivial?  Teachers make hundreds of decisions every day, many of those in split seconds, some of those agonizingly. Often we ask students to either make decisions or think about the decisions they did make and the consequences of those decisions.  And, often students have no clue or idea how to make a decision because they have not been taught a process for decision making in a safe environment where consequences are just on paper.  Our Decision Making Lesson for The Hunger Games provides students with a decision making process that they can practice first with the characters from The Hunger Games and then with their own decisions.  While one lesson may not turn adolescents into decision-making masterminds, it’s what all teachers know, you never know when one lesson profoundly impacts a student’s life. And, teaching a decision making process is good practice for critical thinking!

The key steps in decision making take place constantly in students’ lives, and once we acknowledge that good decision making is an important and learnable skill, many doors open. Students can become more actively engaged in the classroom and can learn to work successfully in groups to address complex problems. Moreover, students can extend their learning beyond the classroom as they apply their decision skills to real-world problems. Without a doubt, decision skills can be introduced successfully in a broad range of classroom settings, a fact which lies at the heart of our hope for students to become active and creative decision makers (Gregory & Clemen, p. 7).

It’s Superbowl weekend and Teachers Pay Teachers is running a sale and so are we on all of our lesson plans for The Hunger Games and Wonder as well as a couple of great Ideas for Managing Instruction.  Enjoy the Superbowl!


Gregory, R. S. & Clemen, R. T.) Improving students’ decision making skills.  Durham, SC: Duke University.  Obtained January 28, 2013:

tpt                               hungergames decison

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