Friday, January 30, 2009

Setting Goals and Tabbing the Portfolios

Since I have finished all of my reflection assignments, the next two things to do are to set goals and write an outline for the conference. Setting goals is something we do every term, but this term it is particularly important because my goals will be incorporated into the conference. I start my goal setting process by reading my comments. I highlight my strengths in one color and  my weaknesses in another. Then, I set goals to further my strengths and improve upon my weaknesses. Some of the things I want to improve on based on my comments  are taking initiative to take a leadership role during class and asking more questions during class to further the discussions. 

We also have spent a lot of time in the past two days working on the outlines for our conferences. My outline consists of four topics that I want to cover during my conference. They are The Ways That I Learn Best, Areas Where I Have Shown Improvement, Areas Where I Can Still Improve and My Work Ethic.  Each of these topics then has several examples. For the first section, Ways That I Learn Best, I chose three methods of learning that have been beneficial to me: collaborating with others, experimenting and making mistakes, and organizing information. Then I found examples of work in my portfolio that demonstrate how these methods have worked, such as a french quiz where I organized the vocab words by into colored flash cards by the gender of the words to help me study. After I chose all of my examples, I stuck a color coded post it note to each one so I will easily be able to find it during my conference. My portfolio looks pretty funny right now, because there are about thirty green, blue and purple post it notes sticking out of it from all sides!

Our conferences are going to have a lot of structure. We have written very specific outlines so we know exactly what to show our parents and so that we make sure that we remember to say everything we want to when the time comes. It is a challenge to get all of this work done, but I am glad that it is so organized because I am a bit intimidated to just talk about myself and my work all alone with my parents for a full hour and  know that some of my friends feel the same way. Luckily we still have a week until the big night. I know that I will be rehearsing a lot!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Student Led Parent Conferences

A couple of weeks ago, the eighth grade class had a special meeting. Ms. McGee, the head of the middle school, and Mr. Howarth, the dean of the middle school, told us that we were going to lead our own conferences with our parents. Each 8th grader was given a folder with a sheet that told about each of the assignments we would need to complete in order to prepare for the conference. At first I was thinking "having a conference all alone with my parents will be so  awkward." But then I looked over the assignment sheet and my thoughts turned to "how will I ever find the time to finish all of these reflections?" There were a lot of assignments, with questions ranging from "How can you use your strengths to help you with your weaknesses" to "What are your favorite subjects and why?" I got right to work, looking through my portfolio to help me think of what to say. Luckily I didn't have to finish all the assignments that day. We were given a schedule for completing the assignments. The first few were due the next wednesday. The first question was pretty simple- "what are your strengths as a learner? be sure to consider all aspects of your life such as academics, performing arts, sports etc." I immediately thought about the fall soccer season, where I was not the best player on the team, but I was so determined to improve that I ended up having a very successful season. So thinking about this, I wrote a couple of paragraphs about  how determination has helped me in other situations as well. The second question was a little harder- "What are your weaknesses as a learner?" It was hard to admit to my weaknesses, but I knew I did have some. I ended up writing about how I allow myself to get distracted by my peers, referring to a math homework assignment that I didn't do as well as I would have like on because I wasn't focused in class the day it was explained. As I got into a rhythm answering the first couple of assignments, I began to relax and realize that it wasn't as much work as I had initially thought, and so far the process has helped me to realize what I am doing well and what I need to improve upon, which is exactly what I will need to discuss in my conference. And I even began thinking "hey, this is kinda fun!"  There are still eight assignments to go, but now that I've gotten started I know I can handle them.