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RIDE supports several blogs throughout our website where Rhode Islanders and RIDE staff share their thoughts.

On this page, we have collected all of the blogs on our site - many of which share posts from Rhode Island educators other than RIDE staff. Blogs are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Commissioner's Corner: Blog posts and messages from the Commissioner to the Rhode Island community.
  • District Teacher of the Year (DTOY): Posts from the Rhode Island District Teachers of the Year, past and present, who share about instructional successes and challenges they encounter in Rhode Island classrooms.
  • Equitable Access to Excellent Educators: Rhode Island educators and RIDE staff explore factors and perspectives on the importance of ensuring that all students are taught by high quality educators.
  • Leadership: Reflections and insights from RIDE’s Leadership Fellow and other district and school leaders on the challenges and opportunities of being a school leader.
  • Rhode Island Poet Laureate: Reflections and poetry focused on teaching, learning, and the experience of education from Tina Cane, Rhode Island Poet Laureate.
  • Rhode Island Science Education (R.I.S.E.): A communication blog to update stakeholders in education and in the community on important developments, events and accomplishments in science education in Rhode Island.
  • Student Voice: Because student voice is an essential component of our discussion on education, RIDE will post essays written by students from around Rhode Island.

Click on a category below to filter by a particular blog:

Student-led Conferences Allow Students to Really Take Ownership of Their Learning

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 8/10/2018
Emily Caldarelli, 2016-17 Rhode Island Milken Award Winner
Fourth Grade Teacher
Paul Cuffee School

Each trimester, my fourth grade classroom prepares for our parent/teacher conferences. At Paul Cuffee School, starting in fourth grade, students are not only expected to attend their conference, but also to lead it.

To prepare, we start by reflecting on our trimester as a class. What are the big topics and units that we have spent time learning about during this trimester? What are the community activities and field trips that we have attended? Once our brainstorm is complete, students have some self-reflection time at their desks while they fill out a conference planning sheet. This sheet asks questions such as, “What topic has been challenging this trimester?” and, “What have you enjoyed learning about this trimester?”

Class brainstorm in preparation of the conference planning sheets
Our class brainstorm in preparation of the conference
planning sheets

Students also choose two pieces of work to share with their family member. They go through their notebooks and assignments and thoughtfully pick their best work. Students often choose to share diagrams or conclusions from their science notebooks, poems from their poetry anthologies, and pieces of writing from their writing notebooks. Some select projects from reading groups, or research projects that they have compiled on their school laptop. On their conference planning sheets, students write a few sentences reflecting how they are proud of these particular assignments. This is a great opportunity for them to showcase work that they have selected as their personal best, and work that typically stays in school. This adds an element of student choice to the conference to make it even more meaningful.

There is a segment for goals at the end of the conference planning sheet: a goal each from the teacher, student, and parent. We fill this section out together as a team to close the conference.

Students are sometimes asked to leave the room for a few minutes so I can talk privately with their parent. This option is always available for parents if there is something they would like to bring up without their son/daughter in the room.

A student's conference planning sheet
A student's conference planning sheet

Over the years, I have seen how beneficial student-led conferences can be. The planning process forces students to reflect on their trimester and allows them to highlight pieces of work of which they are proud. The student really feels empowered because they are the ones leading the conversation. Instead of having a conversation about the student when they are not present, I get to have a conversation with the student and his/her family. Most kids truly seem to enjoy it. I always have a few points to add, but I try to allow the student to present the conference plan that they so carefully prepared. Isn’t our goal to empower learning, taking ownership, and instill confidence in students? Student-led conferences do just that.

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