Ideas and resources for parent conferences
These reviewed resources offer information so share with parents at conferences or suggested activities to share at conference time. Read "In the Classroom" ideas to display and other creative approaches for parent conferences. Parents will appreciate your sharing of educator-reviewed resources at conferences and on your TeachersFirst public page so you can work as a team in support of their child's learning.
Grades2 to 4
In the ClassroomThis activity would work well for individual or pairs of students in a lab or on laptops. Be sure to help your weaker readers and ESL/ELL students by sharing the vocabulary words (names of animals, pets, etc.) prior to using, either on a handout or by projecting on an interactive whiteboard and highlighting them in the text as you come to them. Teach parts of speech as students recognize how the story maker "plugs in" their word choices to create the stories mad-lib style. Share the printables with parents at open house or conferences. Have students record their stories on a podcast and share the podcasts using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here). Teach parts of speech as students recognize how the story maker "plugs in" their word choices to create the stories mad-lib style.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): money (190)
In the ClassroomUse the resources on this site to enrich a mathematics unit on money or a mini-society social studies unit. Share the site links and printables with parents at open house or conferences, so students can further engage in financial literacy topics. Use the value ranking resource as a discussion starter for older students. Students can complete activities independently and then share with a peer.
Grades3 to 12
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomYou need to know how to locate your photos on your computer or photo sharing site. Click the little white boxes to change text colors, etc. as you enter desired text. SAVE your completed cover when done. Be sure to give it a meaningful name if you are creating several covers on the same computer!
Check out the Big Huge Labs educator account. Easily pre-register students to avoid creating logins, view and download their creations, and view the site advertisement free. You will find information about the Educator Account here. If you and your students simply use the tool without joining the site, there are no problems with email, profiles, etc. You do need to demonstrate the tool and specifically explain which links students should NOT use, including ads and links to social networking sites that are prohibited in your school. These may be blocked, anyway. Make sure you watch and teach copyright issues in snatching photos from the web.
Have students create magazine covers of themselves as a getting to know you activity and classroom bulletin board. Print and laminate magazine covers to make them appear even more authentic. Or share the images (WITHOUT student names) on your class wiki or web page. When doing reports for any subject, have students create magazine covers that mimic the real thing instead of boring plain covers. Make covers about famous Americans, scientists, or historic figures. Make covers about objects, as well. Assign students to research a vegetable and create a cover about its nutrients, recipes, and more as part of your nutrition unit! Guidance teachers or principals can feature exemplary students using this tool. Bulletin board creativity will skyrocket using Big Huge Labs Magazine Cover. Why not offer a rotating PowerPoint slide show of student-made magazine covers for parents to view as they wait in the hallway for conferences?
Includes an education-only area for teachers and students
Parent permission advised before posting student work created using this tool
Requires registration/log-in (WITH email)
Requires registration/log in (NO email)
Premium version (not free) includes additional features or storage
Products can be embedded
Products can be shared by URL
Grades9 to 12
The "Troubling Behaviors" area follows a problem-solution format: first describing the behavior, pointing out things to consider, questions for further self-understanding, ways to help, and signals that a mental health professional ought to be involved. There are video clips with many of the topics. The site is notable for its straightforward and non-judgmental tone.
In the ClassroomConsider sharing the video clips (relevant to your class) on an interactive whiteboard or projector. In health (or psychology) class have students investigate one topic and present their findings to the class in a multimedia format: wiki, blog, podcast, or video. How about having students create a podcast using Podomatic (reviewed here). They might even role-play some of the scenarios. If students create a video, share the videos using a site such as Teachertube (explained here).
While this site might be useful as a resource for a high school health, psychology, or child development class, its main benefit is for teachers, parents, and other adults who care for and work with children and teens. Consider adding this link to your class web page as a resource for parents or sharing specific ideas with parents at conferences.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomTake the time to read and implement the classroom suggestions for all ages, including taking time to note any signs of students "at risk." Share this printable pdf with your colleagues and with parents via a link from your teacher web page or as an insert in a school or classroom newsletter. If you have an information table at PTO/PTA functions or in your conference waiting area, this is a good handout to include.
GradesK to 12
Registration is free. An email address is required, as is some other information. Some materials on this site require Adobe Acrobat. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
Another helpful resource in understanding Lexile levels is this pdf comparison chart from Harcourt (opens in Acrobat Reader).
tag(s): readability (8)
In the ClassroomMake Lexiles one of the tools you use to make reading a positive experience for your students. The more you know about the student and the actual content of the books, the more helpful the Lexiles can be in assisting a match. If your school reports data to parents using Lexile scoring, download the white papers to give to them at conferences to explain Lexile scores in 'parent friendly' language. Include this link on your classroom web page. If your students know their Lexile level, you will want Lexile levels on your classroom library materials so students can match a book to both their reading level and their interests. As an FYI, SOME books listed on Barnes and Noble's online site include Lexile levels in the descriptions (just after age level). Lexile connects to Barnes and Noble directly from this site.
GradesK to 2
tag(s): literacy (107)
In the ClassroomMake these brochures available to parents of the very young. The added bonus of having some of the brochures available in Spanish makes the development of good readers a task shared by parents and educators alike. PLace some on the table in your conference waiting area or send them home in backpacks!
GradesK to 12
tag(s): literacy (107)
In the ClassroomShare this site on your class website so parents can learn about this free resource. Include links to specific publications tha fit your class' needs. Or choose helpful information with your particular parents/students and share the pdf files as print-outs at conferences or via email to help parents.
Grades3 to 8
tag(s): tutorials (47)
In the ClassroomStart the activity by showing the student-produced videos on the web site. Use the resources on the site for a whole class jig-saw exercise. Assign small groups the task of learning one aspect of the process and then reporting and showing it to the rest of the class. Share the knowledge by creating working groups, which contain an expert from each aspect of the process. Use one of the many class ideas as practice activities for students to learn the finer points of video production before they start their masterpieces.
Video is a great tool for authentic assessment - especially for ESL, ELL, and Special Education students. Think about letting each of your students create a short video about what they know for their parent conference meeting or Open House. Explore the realm of possibilities by having students develop and ask peers a "Question of the Week" and document the responses on video. Let students produce a walking tour of the school and key personnel as an introduction for new students. Post this video on the school website, but check the district and students' Acceptable Use Policies before videoing any student faces. You may want to ask your school's funding sources to consider purchasing a few USB plug-in "flip" video cameras that cost about $100 each so students can do these projects with an "indestructible" tool.
Grades7 to 12
tag(s): pronunciation (44)
In the ClassroomBe sure to take advantage of this FREE website to help your ESL/ELL students improve their English. For older students, this program can help them prepare for the world of work. Some parents of ESL/ELL students may even appreciate the resource for their own learning. ESL teachers may want to share the site at an open house or conferences as a non-invasive way of drawing parents into the process.
GradesK to 7
In the ClassroomCreate shortcut to Mem reading aloud on your classroom computer for a center activity for primary grades, and place a copy of Mem's book there for students to follow along. Print out Mem's suggestions for reading aloud to give to parents at conferences or share this site on your teacher home page for parent and students to access from home. For older students, this site is an excellent resource for planning cross-grade reading activities for Read Across America or other special times, including having middle school students write picture books for young students, then share them at an in-person visit or on a podcast recording.PowerPoint slides are an easy way to "create" and share large format picture books electronically.
Grades1 to 4
In the ClassroomSince students must correctly type the name of the animal, teachers should provide an animal picture dictionary, word wall or some other type of resource for animal names. Early spellers may struggle with some names such as giraffe or scorpion. This site would be a great option for a center or activity on a computer cluster in your classroom, especially since it has MANY different "who am I" quizzes so answers will vary.
After your students have mastered the animal concepts, have them make a "Who am I?" quiz of their own for others to try on two PowerPoint slides: one with the questions (with answers hidden under draggable "autoshape" boxes), and a second with the answer. You can combine the slide pairs into a whole class challenge for parents to try while waiting in the hallway for conferences!
Grades1 to 12
In the ClassroomInclude this site on your teacher web page for students and parents to access as a reference. Share the printables with parents at open house or conferences. As you introduce web-based activities in your classroom, pause to rmind students of these safety rules, even if someone else is supposed to "cover" them in their classroom. Parts of this site require the use of myspace, so be sure to preview it and match the requirements to your school's regulations.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): parents (58)
In the ClassroomListen to this podcast before you make that first parent call-- or afterward to find out what you could do to make the next oe better! Get together with other newbie teachers for munchies and a beverage as you listen --and maybe talk about the ideas and your related experiences. Make it a ritual to beat the isolation and frustration of being a new teacher as you relax together twice monthly with Mike, Glen, and some in-person peers for the entire podcast series. You will find the collaboration really helpful in making teaching the career you had hoped it would be. You choose the location to listen, and the podcasts will help with the rest.
GradesK to 2
In the ClassroomShare the printables and information about the website with parents at open house or conferences and include the link on your teacher web page. Spanish-speaking families will enjoy hearing about this site as well.
GradesK to 8
In the ClassroomUse this list as an idea generator for book report alternatives or even for lesson ideas. Share the link or some of the ideas on your tecaher web page for students to choose a book report product/project/performance. Print these suggestions out and share all or some of them with parents in a newsletter,at conference times, or before summer vacation. Give credit for your source, of course!
GradesK to 12
tag(s): authors (121)
In the ClassroomShare this on your teacher web page for students doing book reports or research on authors. When your students have completed creative writing book projects, have them create a mock-up site about themselves as authors! they can use PowerPoint or create an offline web page, depending on the resources available in your school. If you use PowerPoint, be sure to set it on a computer running automaically for parents waiting at conference time. If you display the student books on a nearby table, parents can learn "about the authors"!
Grades1 to 8
In the ClassroomAfter you print the worksheet and before you close the page, be sure you click to generate the answer sheet! Share this link on your teacher web page for parents and students to make practice activities for at-home review. Be sure to include directions on your web page for what settings students should use (number of decimal places, for example).
Younger students will love "playing teacher" and making sheets at home for their parents or for each other at school. If they check the answers manually, they will practice, too! Suggest this idea to elementary parents at conferences and give your students some stickers to "correct" their parents work!
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomInclude this link on your on classroom web page or share the information at conferences with parents. As an Internet safety activity, teach about the cyberbullying, then have students create pamphlets based on cyberbullying information to send home to parents. Or have them create posters to hang around school about cyberbullying, using terminology you teach from the web site.
Students will need you to present the information, since the site is directed toward parents, not students. Use scenarios such as those described in the article to spark discussion.