Parents as Partner Episode # 30 November 2, 2009

 For most parents the most common interaction with their child's classroom teacher happens at parent teacher interviews. For years that process has been the norm, but now it is changing. In more and more schools, students are leading conferences, and, overall, the word is that they‚are doing a fine job.

Conversations Edtechtalk show host Lisa Parisi and Ginger Lewman from Turning Point Learning Centre in Emporia, KS  joined Matt Lorna and Cindy to share their experiences using student led Parent Teacher conferences.

Chat Log

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[20:53] <matt-montagne> hey all

[21:00] == sarah has joined #edtechtalk

[21:00] <sarah> So, I have to claim my name fast, yes?

[21:00] == sarah has changed nick to Guest25954

[21:00] <matt-montagne> hey Sarah

[21:00] <@LisaParisi> DId that work?

[21:00] <Guest25954> Not fast enough!

[21:00] <Lorna> Lorna

[21:00] <GingerTPLC> I see your name in blue

[21:00] <matt-montagne> new chat room here

[21:00] <matt-montagne> kind of a temporary thing

[21:00] <Guest25954> see, now I'm a guest again.  Hi Matt, I'm just as grumpy as you

[21:01] <Guest25954> I only see black, and I can't keep my name

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[21:01] <PeggyG> Hi everyone!

[21:01] <@LisaParisi> Hi Peggy

[21:02] <Guest25954> maybe I should try IE?

[21:02] <PeggyG> How fun to have you as a "guest" on the show tonight!!! You're a pro with student led conferences!

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[21:02] <Sarah__> Another try in a different browser?

[21:02] <PeggyG> yes Livestream now

[21:02] <Sarah__> Ignore me!

[21:03] <PeggyG> no problem Sarah! looks like you're making progress :-)

[21:03] <PeggyG> I use Livestream frequently and love it!

[21:03] <PeggyG> They just came out with a Procaster for Macs (beta) :-)

[21:04] <PeggyG> the chat stays there all the time--not new for each video--at least that is what happened to me

[21:05] <PeggyG> this is a great topic tonight!!! student-led parent conferences :-)

[21:06] <PeggyG> @Sarah-are you hearing ok?

[21:06] <matt-montagne> ustream should b working

[21:07] <PeggyG> now why would anyone choose the baseball game over Parents as Partners?? :-)

[21:07] <GingerTPLC> This is a little odd for me. Not used to it yet.

[21:08] <PeggyG> it's very easy to copy/paste links into this chat though--don't have to drag and drop them

[21:08] <Sarah__> it is fast, and not pretty.  sort of millenium falconish

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[21:08] <PeggyG> so great to hear from Lisa and Ginger!!

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[21:09] <PeggyG> welcome everyone!

[21:09] <matt-montagne> it is cool to catch up with Ginger again...I met her this summer at the google teacher academy

[21:09] <PeggyG> Conversations is definitely the way to start a Sunday morning!

[21:09] <GingerTPLC> My head is down very much during the schoolyear.

[21:10] <cindyseibel> Conversation on Sunday morning - LIsa Parisi's show on

[21:10] <GingerTPLC> I'm much more lively in the morning, so I hope to satify here as well.

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[21:11] <matt-montagne> I have lots of questions about parent teacher conferences...I think they can be so much more meaningful than an opportunity to talk about numbers, grades, etc

[21:11] <@LisaParisi> Hi Kim

[21:11] <PeggyG> absolutely Matt!! I agree with you and I think student led conferences provide a fantastic alternative!

[21:12] <matt-montagne> that is cool, Ginger

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[21:12] <PeggyG> when I was a principal I had several teachers who used student led conferences and the parent loved them! I wish more had been willing to try them.

[21:13] <Sarah__> I have P-T conferences Thu/Fri this week.  It's been a few years since I was an advisor, so I'm a little nervous

[21:13] <PeggyG> we found these conferences worked best if they weren't timed with when the report cards went out--different focus!

[21:13] <matt-montagne> @peggy...agreed...I like the potential...

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[21:15] <GingerTPLC> Does anyone else work with the Responsive Classroom model?

[21:16] <matt-montagne> ginger, I was looking up the life practice model and I couldn't find anything

[21:16] <matt-montagne> looking up the responsive classroom model now...

[21:16] <Sarah__> I just hit the responsive classroom and downloaded a one page fact sheet:

[21:16] <GingerTPLC> Matt, we're developing it as we're building it. It's my baby.

[21:16] <matt-montagne> I love all the different UDL strategies that Lisa uses...

[21:18] <matt-montagne> I love how the kids know they can go to the bathroom at any time...I love how kdis know if they get antsy that they can go stand up in the back of the room...I look the squishy objecs that the kids can play with when they need to fiddle with something

[21:18] <matt-montagne> very cool, ginger

[21:19] <matt-montagne> amazing that in the information age, that the parents would find out so late in the school year that their student is struggling

[21:19] <matt-montagne> I still think the best thing we can do is to share student work...or better yet, have students share their work...all the time

[21:19] <GingerTPLC> You can learn a little bit more about our school at

[21:22] <cindyseibel> Start by connecting with parents in a personal way - that seems to make the difference.

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[21:22] <cindyseibel> Focus on progress, not just the marks.

[21:24] <matt-montagne> @cindy...a friend of mine always made a call home to all parents at the beginning of the year with positive was a way for her to ensure that the first conversation with all parents was always a positive one

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[21:24] <matt-montagne> hey there onepercentyellow

[21:24] <matt-montagne> we're talking about ways to rethink parent teacher conferences

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[21:27] <matt-montagne> i agree, ginger...strange that students wouldn't be in attendance...

[21:27] <kimcaise> i always felt grades were so subjective

[21:27] <matt-montagne> grade grubbers

[21:28] <@LisaParisi> I am trying to teach my daughter that, Kim.

[21:28] <matt-montagne> humans are smart...we figure out how to game the system with grades...we figure out how to do the least amount possible to get the desired grade.

[21:28] <@LisaParisi> Keep telling her if she goes for extra help and brown noses the teacher, her grade can be bumped up if it's inbetween grades.

[21:28] <matt-montagne> grades = reductive ... actual student work = expansive, limitless

[21:29] <matt-montagne> I'm a big alfie kohn fan...his work on artificial rewards, grades, is extraordinary

[21:29] <matt-montagne> I think Dan Pink spoke to the issue of external awards in a Ted Talk

[21:30] <matt-montagne> dan pink's ted talk was titled, "the surprising science of motivation"

[21:30] <Sarah__> I need to see that one

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[21:30] <matt-montagne> is worth your time

[21:31] <matt-montagne> Tina Seelig, a prof at Stanford, talks about when grades are lifted, the sky becomes the limit

[21:31] <at> Hey Lorna

[21:31] <matt-montagne> very, very cool lisa

[21:32] <GingerTPLC> It also allows us to model communication between student/family if there are any struggles in that area.

[21:32] <matt-montagne> at the root I believe parents just want to see their child's work

[21:32] <Lorna> @at good to see you here

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[21:32] <Jeannine> @matt - agreed!

[21:32] <GingerTPLC> It's important for kids to learn to be advocates for their school and themselves. Sometimes it's easier to advocate for their scholo first.

[21:33] <GingerTPLC> *school

[21:33] <matt-montagne> if the only thing parents ever see are 4 report cards and a few big projects, then that is what they'll value...but show them alternatives that are meaningful, and they'll really appreciate it

[21:33] <matt-montagne> this is why I'm such a big believer in the portfolio learning process...


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[21:36] <PeggyG> even if you don't have technology access (or your parents don't have it) SL conferences allow students the opportunity to demonstrate what they are learning with work samples

[21:38] <Sarah__> what tools do you like for digital portfolios?

[21:38] <PeggyG> it's definitely "easier" to share ongoing projects online but if parents can't access it we need alternatives for them--communication is the key no matter where it takes place-f2f or virtually

[21:39] <PeggyG> blogs make great eportfolios but Weebly for Educators is a good alternative too

[21:39] <@LisaParisi> That is what I was thinking Peggy

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[21:41] <PeggyG> Kathy Shields has created a great class website on Weebly and she protects the student work so just parents can see it--I love her site!

[21:42] <PeggyG> Kathy teaches 3rd graders and I'm sure her parents really know what is being learned at school by reading her website

[21:43] <PeggyG> student learn a lot by having to choose what they feel best represents their work and progress for their portfolios

[21:43] <PeggyG> publishing work online definitely raises the bar for students because they want to make it the best they can!

[21:44] <PeggyG> yes Lisa and Matt!!! it is an incredible motivator :-)

[21:44] <PeggyG> students make great bulletin boards :-)

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[21:45] <PeggyG> they can create it online and print it out to put on the bulletin board :-) Glogster is a great tool for creating posters :-)

[21:45] <matt-montagne> @peggy...yes, I agree...they learn tons by going through the process of building and creating their own learning dashboard...I do like tools that allow learners an infinite number of choices for portfolio customization...

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[21:46] <PeggyG> exactly Matt!!

[21:46] <matt-montagne> but infinite choices can be hard for students when the learning has always been planned out for them by adults

[21:46] <Jeannine> As someone who loves the smell and feel of paper some bulletin board stuff is great!  We don't want to lose our tactile sense.

[21:47] <matt-montagne> at first the portfolios look kinda ugly when they have so much choice...but if given time, they can do powerful things

[21:47] <PeggyG> I used to think it was fun cutting out the letters for a bulletin board but it was very time consuming! Loved it when the Elletson Lettering machine became available.

[21:47] <matt-montagne> great point, ginger...

[21:48] <matt-montagne> @peggy...oh, I remember those things...back from my elementary school teaching days (bringing back bad memories!!!)

[21:48] <matt-montagne> YES, Ginger!!!!!

[21:48] <matt-montagne> Permitting the students to fall down, fail, and then figure out how to get back up

[21:49] <PeggyG> parents have a really hard time understanding how their kids are learning if they aren't bringing home worksheets and math papers. Lots of re-education is needed

[21:49] <matt-montagne> @peggy...parented is a HUGE opportunity in our communities...I tend to find that they get the "shift" if given the opportuntiy to do so

[21:50] <matt-montagne> parents understand the notion that " We need to prepare our kids for their future, not our past."

[21:50] <matt-montagne> They tend to get that

[21:50] <PeggyG> yes--teachers just need to realize that they need to support the parents with this new understanding

[21:51] <kimcaise> what was the purpose of memorizing those things?

[21:51] <kimcaise> like whole plays when you could easily read the play

[21:51] <PeggyG> reciting is different than memorizing and trying to remember it for 30 years :-)

[21:52] <PeggyG> I memorized a LOT of things in my lifetime that I can't remember now!! But I definitely know where to go to find out :-)

[21:52] <matt-montagne>   Fantastic article on math instruction and how we've creeped more and more abstract concepts to younger and younger students

[21:52] <cindyseibel> paraphrased quote from David Wiley - if you can google it, don't teach it or test it.

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[21:53] <PeggyG> parents are convinced about their child's learning when they see the child explain it in the conference--they can hear their child explain why it was good/not good and how they're planning to make it better

[21:53] <matt-montagne> I generally subscribe to that statement, Cindy...

[21:54] <matt-montagne> Parents should never, ever have to ask the question, "What did you do in school today?" Especially w/portfolios that show REAL student work

[21:55] <kimcaise> me too! middle schoolers are the best age to teach

[21:55] <PeggyG> you will never get a good answer to that question!! that's why the online sharing of student activities and curriculum projects is so important--parents know what to ask their kids about

[21:56] <cindyseibel> last night we went out for dinner as a family and just talked about "good stuff"

[21:56] <Jeannine> My daughter's teacher asks her students to discuss the rubric by which projects will be graded before the project begins. It ensures that the student and the parent know what is expected, what to look for, etc.

[21:56] <matt-montagne> instread of even asking that question, you could start with, "That photo you published in photography class was quite beautiful."

[21:57] <PeggyG> exactly Matt! and if parents don't have that information they don't know which questions to ask

[21:57] <matt-montagne> facebook is another great hook for parent-child relationships...

[21:58] <PeggyG> often the only news kids bring home is who got in trouble in class or who earned stars or not!

[21:58] <matt-montagne> BJ Fogg talks about parents and kids as friends in facebook and the benefits:

[21:59] <PeggyG> My grandson spent a bit of time in the principal's waiting area and he could tell me everything that went on in the office--not sure what he was learning :-)

[22:00] <matt-montagne> parents shouldn't walk out of conferences thinking of your kid as a number, grade, or a symbol

[22:00] <PeggyG> that's a great article Matt! schools still seem reluctant to consider Facebook as a place to connect with parents but it really is a great place to do that

[22:00] <PeggyG> wow! where did the time go??!! fantastic conversation!!

[22:01] <matt-montagne> it was fun...thank you Ginger and Lisa!!!

[22:01] <matt-montagne> and thank you everyone in the chat conversation

[22:01] <@LisaParisi> Thank you Matt.  It was fun.  A pleasure to be here.

[22:01] <PeggyG> I loved hearing your stories Lisa and Ginger!!

[22:01] <PeggyG> very exciting Cindy!!!

[22:02] <GingerTPLC> I am very glad to be here with you all tonite! Thanks for the invite and the warm welcome!

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[22:02] <PeggyG> I really like your point Lisa about a new perspective on parent conferences after you became a parent!

[22:03] <kimcaise> matthew? lol

[22:03] <GingerTPLC> It's great to have the feedback on what's working and not working. Everytime I visit this topic, I think of something new.

[22:03] <Jeannine> Thank you PasP team and guests - great conversation.

[22:03] <PeggyG> Isn't he streaming?? :-)

[22:04] <PeggyG> I hope this conversation will continue about student led conferences!! Such a great idea!!

[22:05] <PeggyG> it's going to be very exciting to see what happens with the new parent courses with Justin Reeve! Very exciting stuff!

[22:05] <PeggyG> beginning to develop the plans and courses!

[22:06] <PeggyG> I thought it would be perfect for Lorna and Cindy and now I'm hooked too!!

[22:06] <PeggyG> and tell them about the anniversary show for Gator Radio tomorrow night Matt! That is going to be great!

[22:07] <PeggyG> yeah at!!!!!!!

[22:07] <matt-montagne> welcome AT!!!!

[22:07] <GingerTPLC> :D

[22:07] <matt-montagne> oh, yeah

[22:07] <at> It wa fun. Thank you.

[22:07] <matt-montagne> anniversary birthday show for gator radio tomorrow

[22:07] <kimcaise> how exciting matt!

[22:08] <@LisaParisi> Congrats, Matt!

[22:08] <PeggyG> it will be so much fun to have the alums back for the show!! Gator Radio is such an awesome radio show to think it's all done by the students!

[22:08] <at> I learned a lot for my upcoming interviews with parents

[22:08] <kimcaise> cool!

[22:08] <PeggyG> Congratulations Matt!

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[22:09] <PeggyG> wonderful show tonight! Thank you PasP team!!

[22:09] <matt-montagne> thanks, Peggy, Kim and everyone else!!!

[22:09] <at> Goodnigteveryone and thanks again. Great work!

[22:09] <PeggyG> Good night everyone!

[22:09] <kimcaise> good night all

[22:09] <cindyseibel> goodnite everyone

[22:09] <kimcaise> great show everyone!

[22:09] <GingerTPLC> Goodnite!

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[22:10] <Lorna> good nite