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Expeditionary Learning Conference

At the beginning of this month I also went to the El conference in Baltimore. It was such a wonderful experience, it would be impossible to share it all. I went to the Humanities Slice of an Expedition, which was incredibly meaningful.

I also wanted to share a website that I learned about. EL has developed curriculum for the State of NY incorporating Common Core ELA standards. The units are very well laid out, and there will be 6 modules for grades 3-8 up by the end of the summer. You can find the units here:
I also went to a great conference on Student Led Portfolio Conferences. It blew me away how meaningful these were, and how responsible they made the kids. Here were my major take aways.

Student Led Conferences Take Aways:

The student led conference process: Is completed at the end of the expeditions (2-3 times a year). Students do not get their report card unless the parent comes to the conference.
Students need to be coached, and have a lot of practice at the conferences.
By the end of 7th grade students are expected to lead the conferences themselves. Tell students that you are passing along the conference to them ahead of time, let them know the expectations. Start off helping them, but make a goal that by the end if the year you have full control.
Prepare them to lead….what is important to putting it together. Identify the reasons that we do student led conferences, educate the parents. Why is it important? Practice… Have them put notes on an index card…give them a script.
Have the student practice with crew leader, and then get feedback, and practice again.

  • The Yearlong process creates quality and student leadership.
  • Draft, feedback, draft, check off list, draft.
  • Portfolio checklist
  • Practice practice practice,
  • Present
  • Ask for feedback
  • Self reflection
  • KEEP working folders in rooms all year long to collect artifacts for the portfolio.

***Students have to show proficiency of learning targets. Sometimes the teachers choose the learning targets and sometimes the kids choose the targets.

***Student Reflection and revision is crucial to the process.

***The portfolios are cumulative over the entire time in Middle School and end with an 8th grade Passage Portfolio.

***They add in the standardized test scores to portfolios to let parents know where students stand. They always talk about test scores in a growth mindset. “Did you get better than last time, and we can celebrate that!”

***Always set behavior or Habits of Work goals.

***Give students ownership of their portfolio, allow them to decorate the cover, this gives them ownership and pride over their portfolio.

***Crew leaders are responsible for the portfolio conferences and helping students prepare for them. Crew leaders spend a lot of time with individual students setting academic and behavior goals.

Setting Students up for Success in Writing

I also went to a great conference on writers workshop. That could be useful across the disciplines. These were my major take aways from that workshop:

This workshop mostly focused on writing in a “writing workshop” classroom, but I think some of these strategies for setting up students’ writing success could be helpful across the disciplines.

Guiding Question: How do we take our space and make it a space where everyone can do their best writing?

**Always use both Long Term and Short Writing Targets, and help students set MANAGEABLE writing goals.

  • Meeting the needs of kids that like to collaborate, and kids that like a quiet work space:
  • Come up with a list of expectations
  • Create meaning behind expectations, Why do we set norms? Why do you need to be quiet now? Students need to know that they are not ALONE in the room and need to respect those around them!
  • Anchor Charts should chart learning over the unit.
  • Students are asked to reference the anchor charts throughout the lesson.
  • Students need to use resources around them to answer their questions before running to the teacher.
  • Peer Conferencing is Important!!
  • Needs to be well structured and expectations need to be clear.
  • Practice through “Fish Bowl” Activities
  • Uses a peer conference sheet!
  • Students must get the conference sheet signed by the teacher and set up a conference with someone in the room.
  • KEEP TRACK OF TIME! This keeps the kids on task.
  • They are asked to have conferences with different people throughout the year, if they keep going to the same people and having longer conversations the Teacher addresses this with them.
  • THEY MUST SET GOALS BEFORE GOING TO THE CONFERENCE. They need to have specific things that they want help on.

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