The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Student-Teacher Conferences

One of the fourth grade learning standards our district has adopted says that students will “independently conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.” Another standard is that they will “apply the writing process (brainstorm, draft, revise, edit, and publish.” Yet another is that students will “report on a topic or text, speaking clearly and at an understandable pace in an organized manner.” And students must be able to “identify key people and events in U.S. History occurring before Columbus and up to the Civil War.”

With all of these standards in mind, I realised that my students could begin work to demonstrate all of them by researching and reporting on one of the original thirteen colonies in America. A list of research questions was developed, a rubric created, and colonies assigned.  Unlike the other projects we have done in our class, this one is entirely independent. The students are working on gathering data and preparing their reports, but I decided to take the time this morning to hold one-on-one conferences with each student to discuss his or her progress. The conferences went well, and I was pleased that so many have. indeed, been conducting independent research. There were some who had not started yet, but they were a distinct minority in the class.

While I was holding conferences, the rest of the class was working on independent activities, such as reading, writing, late math assignments or extra practice, researching, or designing posters for drug prevention (my sub on Wednesday had them work on these–I don’t have anything to do with it, shockingly). I am happy that this worked out so well because I will be doing similar conferences for reading, math, and writing assessments.

The afternoon, since it is Friday, was our weekly Read, Write, Think! time, and, as has become traditional, I allowed a student to write a section of the blog post. It is as follows, with no editorial changes by me:

Some interesting tings have happened this week, but the main event would be Valentines day. We had a great Valentines day with a lot of sugar. We usually consume as much sugar as we want on the days that we are allowed to have it. Anyway, the class has been practicing the ISAT with practice tests. The ISAT is an extremely crucial test that our school takes very seriously. Students have been bringing in gum for the ISAT because gum helps students to think. This week seemed sort of long with indipendant  reasearch projects, practice tests, etc. But yet another one of the many intriguing events takes place in our classroom. There is a poster contest for both fourth grade classes. The posters are supposed to be anti-drug posters. Many people in our class are entering. I hope that someone in our class is a winner. This week has been a great week despite the fact that it seemed long. Yay, weekend!

(I’m not so sure about the claim that “gum helps students to think” but we are doing a gum drive in the building for ISATs.)

Anyway, that was the end of our week! Next week will be a short one, since Presidents’ Day is on Monday (no school) and the teachers have Staff Development on Friday (no school again). In addition, I will be attending a conference on Wednesday and Thursday, so my students will only see me for one day next week! Still, it will be a great week, I am sure!

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One response

  1. Beware the independent researcher such as I was…10 times the research, tons of unique and insightful ideas, and never a finished project…well, rarely.

    February 18, 2012 at 1:19 am

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