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Friday, July 06, 2012


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Carrie Deahl

Maggie, you ask some important questions, and I'll admit the first time I gave grading conferences, I was nervous.

1. The difficulties/obstacles I faced that first time around included:

~Kids weren't ready.
~I didn't feel ready.
~I felt rushed.
~I felt like I did more of the talking than the student.
~My pacing was off.

I dealt with this by talking to my kids about how I thought grading conferences went. They too, felt nervous, and (even today) when I shake my students' hands, their palms are sweaty. It takes some getting used to for all of us, and I feel more confident each time I give them. I think my students feel more confident as they become more routine. And, if I feel like I misjudged a student on Progress Reports or End of the Quarter grades, I try not to worry too much about it. Semester grades are what count the most, and by then, I'll have practiced giving grade conferences so much and will know my students well, that I know we'll get the Semester Grade Conference just right.

2. While I give formal grade conferences, my other students are working on a new piece, some type of reflection, they're finishing up unfinished work, reading their books, working on journal entries, or preparing for their own grade conference. I simply say, "I'll be happy to discuss grades with those students who are prepared, are not interrupting other grade conferences, and are on-task." Then I say, "If I'm interrupted, the person(s) who interrupt me risk losing their grade conference, or risk earning a lower Participation grade." Working during Work Time is one of my Participation requirements, and there have been a few times where I've had to deal with some students on an individual basis by requesting they come in before/after school for their grade conference because they interrupted someone else's. However, these times have been few.

Periodically, I scan the room to make sure students are working. By this time, we've practiced classroom procedures and students understand the Reader/Writer Workshop dynamic that I usually don't have many problems. But those first couple of times, there will be a few kids off task. Eventually, their peers will hold them accountable, or they'll continue to be off task, which will simply come out of their Participation grade. I may even have to address this problem on an individual basis where I will apply the principles and strategies outline in Teaching With Love & Logic by James Faye and David Funk. If you're not familiar with this book, I encourage you to read it.

Hope this helps clear things up for you!

Maggie Leivas

A couple of questions for you:

1. What are some of the difficulties/obstacles you might have experienced with your first formal conferences?

2. What are other students doing while you meet for formal conference with one student?


I really enjoyed the grade conference because it was a 1 on 1 interaction with the instructor. I...
> got to see my grade
> always got a clear idea of what I needed to do
> realized my instructor was a human like me
And then I attempted to complete what ever I had missing. Even though my senioritis was kicking in.
Overall this Grade Conferences are a great idea

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