Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Writing Excitement!

It has been a busy time in the Bair's Den since parent teacher conferences. To up the ante and hopefully get the kids as excited about writing as they are about reading, I introduced our class blog.

http://kidblog.org/TheBairsDen

My kids, well, if you go and read some of their posts you'll see that they were excited and nervous about posting for the word to read and comment. But as you'll also see, they took to this challenge with gusto and have not looked back. It's so exciting to see sad, pouty faces when I have to tell them that it's time to put the computers away to head to lunch or special.

The best thing about the blog came from Mr. B, my resident jock / cool guy. After our first session on the blog we were headed back to the classroom. Mr. B looked at me and said, "I never thought I would like writing this much!" And you should have seen their faces when they got their first posts from a very special class in Nevada. (Thanks, Mr. Crosby!)

They have fallen into my trap -- they are loving reading and writing!!!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent teacher conferences require a lot of preparation and energy. For many teachers they are also extremely scary and nerve-wracking. I think I'm in the minority of a lot of teachers when I say that, while they do require a lot of prep time, conferences do not bother me. I look forward to the opportunity to sit down with parents and see if what I'm seeing from their child in school matches the kid they know at home.

This year I have 22 students, and one of my teaching friends asked me, "So, which conferences are you dreading?" I honestly said none because there truly were no children whose parents I was not looking forward to meeting. All of my kids who are below level have made some growth, and I have some pretty amazing kids who are surviving and doing pretty impressive school work despite some pretty awful situations. In the end I had 21 excellent conferences (one will happen Monday because of a vacation), and here are some of the highlights:

- 8 parents asking me what I did to their child because he / she NEVER wanted to read and now he / she is reading ALL the time! (This was the best, best, best comment of them all, and every time I heard it I practically squealed!)

- several parents saying, "Oh my yes, that is my kid!" when I described my picture of their child and how he or she learns and works best

- One set of parents asking me who I was talking about because they have never had a positive conference about their child before. Seriously?? I had heard the rumors, but their child earned every word of praise I shared with them.

- 7 moms crying (all good tears)

- 4 sets of parents telling me that their kids come home every day to show them our websites so they can see what we've been doing

- several parents telling me that their child can't wait to come to school and says it is fun

- being able to show so many parents a ton of growth, even if their children haven't quite met the benchmarks yet

- all parents being really excited to hear that the kids will start blogging this week

Since we don't have formal conferences again during the school year, I can add my 13th round of conferences to the old teaching belt. They never get easier, but this year's seemed to be a lot more rewarding. Hopefully that trend will continue.