Thursday, November 17, 2016

Three Way Learning Conferences

Next Wednesday, 23rd November we will be hosting our annual Three Way Learning Conferences in the Elementary School.

In the past we had conferred with parents and not included students in the conversations.  Parents and teachers would meet together to discuss the girls' progress and identify the next steps.  Now students are included in the conversations and are at the centre of the conversation.  They spend time in their homerooms beforehand, selecting work samples that show success, progress, higher-order thinking or creativity.  They reflect on how they have progressed using success criteria and learning outcomes, and they are involved in conversations with their teachers to set ambitious learning goals to work towards.  We hope that this process will give students more insight into their learning and allow them to become actively involved in their assessment and goal-setting.

Michael Absolum (2006) summed up the importance of involving the students in conversations about their learning in his book Clarity in the Classroom: Using Formative Assessment:

“If the focus is to be kept on learning, and the ownership of the learning with the child, then the best person to talk about the learning is the learner. Providing an opportunity for students to tell their family what they know can significantly assist with that learning.”

The main objectives of our Three Way Learning Conferences are to:

  • encourage students, parents, and teachers to engage in open and honest dialogue about student learning.
  • increase parental understanding of their child’s learning (Where is their learning going?  How are they doing?  What are their next steps?).
  • provide students with an opportunity to share and celebrate their achievements and clarify their next learning steps.
  • allow students, teachers and parents to set learning goals together.

We hope that the learning conversations can continue beyond the conferences.  Students will take home their portfolios after the conferences, where they will have more time to discuss the work samples chosen that reflect their growth since the beginning of the year.  Moving beyond the conferences as we head towards the end of the first semester, we would also encourage you to talk to your daughter regularly about how she is doing with the goals and targets she sets at the conferences.

Here are some reflections from our first Three Way Learning Conferences in 2014.  Look out for Mr Brittain on Wednesday, who will be searching for volunteers to appear on camera for further reflections and conversations about the process.

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