Kid Conferences – Getting to Know Your Students

Kid Conferences – Getting to Know Your Students

Written by Casey Jeffers, Owner of Fair Winds Teaching & MSEA Second Grade Teacher

Ever wonder why, as elementary and middle school teachers, we meet with our student’s parents and never meet with our students one on one for a conference. Years ago, I held my very first Kid Conference with each one of my students. It was a precursor meeting before I held my October parent teacher conferences. I also always held another one after the long Winter break in January. This was a game changer for me and my students. 

A Kid Conference is exactly what it sounds like, a conference with a kid. Some teachers host kid-led conferences, which is a different concept (a great one, but different). A kid-led conference is where you prep a student to lead the meeting you host with the child’s parent or guardian. The student is able to talk to their caregiver about their academics, behavior and more in the classroom. I love having my students lead during conferences and it is much easier for them to do once you host a private conference with them first. You do not have to have kid-led conferences to be able to host your own Kid Conference at school. Both are great and I suggest starting with hosting your very own Kid Conference. 

A Kid Conference is a one on one meeting involving the classroom teacher and their student. It should be about 5 minutes long; depending on how many students you have in your classroom, you can make the meeting longer if you choose. With my second and third graders, 5 minutes is plenty to answer the questions that are important. During the conference, I welcome a student to my back table and ask a series of questions to better understand them, their learning style, and more about them as a person. My goal is to get to know them inside and outside the classroom.

 

kid conference resources

 

Each of my Kid Conferences happen during the school day. I make sure my class has the directions they need to complete some independent work or centers while I am meeting with each student. Last year, I had my students rotate through my different Starting with STEAM bins to explore with creating. 

I provide a sign up sheet for my students to come pick a 5 minute time block; this allows them to pick if they want to meet with me first or later in the day/week. I select times throughout the day that work best for my class’ schedule. They are not all back to back time slots because in order to complete a class of 25, it would take 2 hours. We all know that it would be very hard for elementary school students to focus on independent work for 2 hours straight. I suggest providing time slots for the morning and some in the afternoon over a couple days.

 

kid conference whiteboard signup

 

During this time, the students first work on a couple things to get ready for their Kid Conference. I give them a small slip of paper that says, “I wish my teacher knew…” This paper is for them to use if they want to tell me something (about home or school) that they don’t feel comfortable telling me out loud. This allows them to feel as if they have a safe space to let me know about a situation that might affect their schooling. The Kid Conference process in general allows students to open up to you more and share something (since they have one on one time), however, some students might still need that slip of paper to feel comfortable to say it. I have a little box with a sign that I allow all the students to put their “I wish my teacher knew…” slip in. That way, they don’t have to talk with me about it right then.

 

Kid Conferences - I wish my teacher knew...

 

Each student will also be given a list of questions to read over beforehand to know the questions that will be talked about in the meeting. I also have a QR code available that the students can scan to listen to the questions read to them. I provided this in the resource because I knew I wanted them to be as independent as possible during this time so I can have uninterrupted time with each student.

 

Kid Conference Question List

 

I then have a list of the questions with a recording sheet for the teacher to use during each Kid Conference to take notes and keep them for their records. This is helpful for me to remember something or circle back to an item I learned about a student in the future. I can also use these notes for my parent teacher conference or my Kid Conference follow up meeting in January. 

I can’t stress this enough… The things I learn in these meetings are so VALUABLE! Spending time to get to know your students on a one to one basis is so very important. If you don’t have a relationship with your student, they won’t feel comfortable learning as much from you as possible. We also all know that if something is worrying or bothering a child, it will distract them from their everyday school life. 

Use this Kid Conferences sheet of questions, form and sign up sheet to host your next 5 minute student interview. Checking in with your students, creating goals and building relationships is a vital part of the classroom. Print these resources now to use for your own Kid Conference day.

 

What teachers are saying…

 

“I loved being able to sit down and conference with my students using this resource!  It helped me get to know them better right from the start!” – Sarah C.

“​​I’ve been using this resource for a while! It is such an awesome idea. I love to give my kiddos some much needed 1-on-1 time…” – Heritage A.

“Great conversation starters with my students and I loved getting more in touch with them!” – Colleen

“This was a great way to start back to school after Winter Break! It allowed me to check in with each student and set goals for the new year 🙂 Thanks!” – Kaytlin G.

 

teacher in the classroom

 

guest blogger

Casey Jeffers is a second-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.

 

Like this article? Then you may also enjoy Casey’s post about Classroom Transformations!

Welcome Back to School – First 10 Days Prep and Plans

Welcome Back to School – First 10 Days Prep and Plans

Written by Casey Jeffers, Owner of Fair Winds Teaching & MSEA Second Grade Teacher

It’s back to school time and you have to start thinking about all the things you want to try to fit into your busy schedule for the first couple weeks of school. My number one priority is building relationships and routines within the first few days so we can get focused on the standards afterwards. 

A great way to integrate some basic story elements while collecting work samples from students to help gauge their learning is to complete a back to school read aloud and activity each day. Each book can guide questions to help build student relationships and team building skills. You can integrate writing components to take work samples and help plan your instruction for the upcoming weeks. 

I have created a FREE Back to School Ideas for the First 10 Days Guide! You can get an inside look into my classroom from over the years. I have everything from ELA read alouds, lessons, math activities, STEAM and SEL lessons and back to school Produces and set up. This 10 day guide helps me map out certain things I want to make sure I touch on while also working around the required items that my school will ask for me to complete. 

 

ideas for first 10 days of school

 

During my teacher prep week (usually the week before the students start), my school will let us know of new initiatives and standards we must hit on those few first weeks. They will also give out the required and optional assessments we must fit into our schedule. The things I have listed on this guide is not a hard pressed schedule, but more of a flexible guide to the things I will fit into my days. 

And then of course, there are the times I need to unpack their school supplies, practice walking down the hallways and give them a fun tour around our school. All important things to do when you are onboarding a new class, I wanted to take some of the planning off your plate and give you a leg up on heading back into the classroom. 

Let’s start with some of my favorite Back to School books to read:

favorite 10 back to school books

More Favs of Mine:

David Goes to School by: David Shannon

Miss Nelson is Missing by: Harry G. Allard Jr. 

A Base Case of the Tattle Tongue by: Julia Cook

I understand that every classroom has a different schedule, teaches different subjects and has time blocks of time to start the school year. With that in mind, I created the First 10 Days of Plans – Idea board. The simple and easy to read board lays out most of the activities and lesson plans I do each year with my K-3rd grade students. The board consists of lesson plans connected to read alouds, Social and Emotional Learning lessons to help the students build relationships, introduction lessons to Math and STEAM standards. Lastly, I focus a lot on team building and school and classroom producers. The Back to School BINGO is my all time favorite product!

You can download the FREE Google Docs now that has everything you need linked to get started this week! In the first two weeks of plans, I have included 4 freebies and some fun activities that any grade level can do. 

 

Want a sneak peak into some of the activities and plans outlined in the guide:

 

Time Capsule: Have your students fill out their first day of school questionnaire! Then have them come back to this time capsule on the last day of school! Check out the video here!

classroom transformations guest blog

 

Free Write Fun Slides: Use these slides all year long! 15+ fun writing prompts per month to use. Start with August & September. Each slide helps guide the students with a writing prompt.

Procedures BINGO: Teaching students the school and classroom procedures are so important (this will last all week!) Maybe even into a second and third week. This is editable so you can add your own procedures too!

 

Back to School Bingo

 

This Week Went Swimmingly: Grab a fun writing sample to wrap up the first week of school! Of course, it is mermaid themed. I use this as a writing sample to help group and guide my writing block the following week. 

Two Truths, One Lie – (Flip) Formally FlipGrid Template: Use this organizer to introduce Flip (Formally Flipgrid) to your students. It’s a great getting to know you and tech activity. I love watching their videos and picking their lie!

 

Back to School - Flipgrid Video

 

Tiny Target: Wrapping up the first couple weeks can be difficult, reward the amazing work by opening your classroom store! These labels help make your own little Dollar Spot come alive.

Who Has the Number?: Use this fun get to know you activity that focuses on numbers in math. I love watching the students walk around and ask each other questions to get to know each other. 

 

Who Has the Number? game

 

Exclusive Back to School Read Aloud Lessons: Want to have it all? Grab the Back to School Ultimate Bundle now. It includes 23 products and an exclusive freebie with THREE read aloud lessons for the books, First Day Jitters, The Invisible Boy, and Do Unto Otters.

 

Do Unto Otters book

 

guest blogger

Casey Jeffers is a second-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.

 

Like this article? Then you may also enjoy Casey’s post about Classroom Transformations!

24 End of the Year Virtual Field Trips- for Free!

24 End of the Year Virtual Field Trips- for Free!

Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.

Virtual field trips allow students and teachers to go beyond the classroom, and even their own country and planet, to experience a variety of adventures all from the convenience of their seats at school.

They are a great end-of-the-year activity to help students have fun and really engage with their classmates. You can develop lesson plans and activities to complement your “trip”.

Here are some fun, educational, and free field trips to take with your class this May.

 

 

virtual field trips

 

Museums

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Virtual Tour

This comprehensive virtual tour presentation allows visitors using a desktop computer (Windows, Mac, Linux) or a mobile device (iPhone, iPad, Android) to take virtual, self-guided, room-by-room tours of select exhibits and other areas within the natural history museum building as well as select research and collections areas at our satellite support and research stations and even past exhibits no longer on display.

 

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The Museum’s collections database contains more than 270,000 records, including photos and albums—Images of life before, during, and after the Holocaust; Personal stories—Interviews, home movies, memoirs, and diaries; films—historical footage and contemporary films about the Holocaust.

 

National WWII Museum

The Online Learning Series allows an unprecedented look into the Museum’s collection for those WWII enthusiasts the Museum can’t always reach in person.

 

The Louvre

Visit the museum’s exhibition rooms and galleries, and contemplate the façades of the Louvre.

 

The Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam houses the largest collection of artworks by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) in the world. The permanent collection includes over 200 paintings by Vincent van Gogh, 500 drawings, and more than 750 letters. Discover his work, read stories, walk the museum, and more.

 

Virtual Colonial Williamsburg

Immerse yourself in an interactive 3D model of Virginia’s 18th-century capital. The project integrates architectural, archaeological, and historical information, presenting the city as it has not been seen in more than 200 years.

 

 

virtual field trips

 

Go On A Journey

Reach The World

Since 2009, 930 travelers have shared their journeys online with more than 17,000 youth in the U.S., publishing more than 16,000 first-person travelogues in the process. By using technology to enable youth to form relationships with global travelers, RTW is sparking a process of personal development that can truly be described as “reaching” the world!

 

National Aquarium

Visit the famous, Baltimore aquarium where kids can have fun learning while exploring different regions, like the tropics and the tundra.

 

Seattle Aquarium

Take a tour of the wonderful Seattle Aquarium, watch live webcams and videos, download animal infographics, factsheets, and more!

 

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Experience the wonder of the ocean wherever you are with 10 live webcams including penguins, spider crabs, jellyfish, and sharks. Read animal stories, learn about their habitats, and more.

 

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo has ten live cams to choose from! The zoo also has a website for kids that is full of videos, activities, stories, and games!

 

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

See giant pandas, elephants, lions, and naked mole rats on animal cams streaming live, 24/7 from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Enjoy free webinars on their website AND download Animal Cam Bingo Cards.

 

National Parks

Take a trip to a national park from wherever you are! Many national park sites across the country offer digital tours and experiences that you can access anytime, anywhere. From digitally diving under the sea to watching webcams of the cherry blossom trees bloom, there are countless ways to enjoy a park experience online.

 

 

virtual field trips

 

World Destinations

New York City and Ellis Island

Take a virtual tour of one of the most famous cities in the world, and explore its top tourist destinations like Madison Square Garden and the Empire State Building. And then head on over to Ellis Island and take their “Coming to America” virtual tour.

 

Goodrich Castle

Located near the Anglo-Welsh border, Goodrich Castle is one of the finest and best-preserved of all English medieval castles. Take a virtual tour of the castle, learn its ownership and siege history, what life was like in a medieval household, and more.

 

Buckingham Palace

Explore this magnificent building via virtual tours. The first tour will take you to the Grand Staircase. Click on the small images below to access further tours of the White Drawing Room, the Throne Room, and the Blue Drawing Room. And then scroll to the bottom to read about the events, residents of the palace, and more.

 

The Great Wall of China

From the sea to the desert, walk the Great Wall of China, read about its history, and uncover secret stamps within its bricks!

 

The Pyramids of Egypt

Take a 360-degree virtual reality tour of the Egyptian Pyramids and then brush up on your history with Smithsonian Journeys: Ancient Egypt and the Nile

 

Rome & the Colosseum

Take a journey around the iconic sights of Rome with this virtual tour of the historical centre and the Colosseum.

 

The Eiffel Tower

The best panoramic views from the Eiffel Tower, both day and night. The mobile guide lets you admire Paris as if you were on the 2nd floor, or at the Tower’s summit. Scan the horizon to the right or left, activate night mode, and zoom in to see Notre Dame Cathedral, Place de la Concorde, the Hôtel des Invalides, and many other Parisian monuments. You can even click the description at the bottom to learn more about what you are seeing.

 

 

virtual field trips

 

& More!

National Geographic Education

National Geographic Education brings geography, social studies, and science to life. Using real-world examples and National Geographic’s rich media, educators, families, and students learn about the world and the people in it.

 

Google Arts and Culture Street View and Google Arts and Culture Places

Tour famous sites and landmarks around the world.

 

AirPano

AirPano is a project created by a team of Russian photographers focused on taking high-resolution aerial 360° photographs and 360° video. Today AirPano is the largest resource in the world — by geographical coverage, a number of aerial photographs, and artistic and technical quality of the images — featuring 360° panoramas and 360° videos of the highest quality shot from a bird’s eye view.

 

Your students can also explore Disney World with our fun Virtual Tour of Disney World rides!

Happy “touring” 😉

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

7 Ways to Save with a Teen Driver

7 Ways to Save with a Teen Driver

A new driver in the household can really impact your auto insurance rates. This is because teen drivers ages 16 -19 are more likely to be involved in accidents than any other age group. If you’re the parent of a teen who just got their license, learning how you can save on your auto insurance is a necessity.

Here are 7 ways you can control your car insurance premiums and get discounts with a teen driver.

1. Shop for coverage with free quotes

Whether you stick with your current auto insurance carrier or you plan to shop around, make sure that you go with an insurance company that will quote your new driver for free and let you know upfront any benefits or discounts that you may be eligible for.

 

2. Enroll them in a driver safety education course

Most insurers will reward teenage drivers who complete a driver’s education or safety course with a discount. By passing the course your teen can prove they have the knowledge and skills behind the wheel to avoid an accident.

 

3. Take advantage of good student discounts

Good grades don’t only help your teen out in the classroom, they can also qualify for a ‘good student discount’ with your auto insurance provider. Talk to your insurance agent to see how much you can save by turning in your child’s report card.

 

4. Purchase a reliable vehicle with a good safety rating

We all know that the costs of our vehicles directly influence what we will pay for auto insurance. Before you go car shopping with your teen talk to your insurance agent and see how much it would be to insure a newer car vs. an older car. Don’t forget to ask about any discounts or rewards for safety ratings or features like airbags, anti-lock brakes, seatbelt alarms, and power steering.

 

5. Limit the miles they drive

Miles driven can also affect the cost of your insurance. This is because the longer you are on the road, the more likely you are to have an accident. So, one of the best ways to avoid a rate increase is to keep mileage to a minimum. Limit your teens driving to work, school, and only in-town functions and you may qualify for low-mileage discounts.

 

6. Bundle your protection and save

Instead of getting your teen their own suit insurance policy, you can save by adding them to your existing policy. And you can save even more each month with the ‘insurance bundle discount’- when you add your auto insurance policy onto other policies that you have with your carrier, like your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance policy.

 

7. Drive SAFE!

The best way to save money (and stress) is to teach and emphasize the importance of safe driving. It will not only prevent a costly accident, but it will give you peace of mind, as a parent, that your new driver is doing everything they can to stay safe on the road.

 

There’s no greater value than knowing your family is properly protected while saving money.

Did you know that California Casualty has some of the best teen driver rates in the industry, without skimping on protection or cutting any corners? Check your rate today by contacting a CalCas insurance agent at 1.866.704.8614 or get a free quote online at mycalcas.com/quote.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Top 10 Car Seat Safety Mistakes

Top 10 Car Seat Safety Mistakes

Vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for children between the ages 1 and 4. Your child’s best chance to come out of an accident unscathed is if they are in a car seat that has been installed correctly.

Here are the top car seat safety mistakes.

Price isn’t Everything, Especially when it comes to safety.  When it comes to purchasing car seats, the more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean “safer”. There are car seats for every budget. A lot of that extra cost could just be additional features, easy to use, or brand popularity.  Find compare and rate car seats using the  NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) car seat finder here. So what’s the determining factor on which seat to get? Get the one that has the best rating that fits your budget, vehicle, can be properly installed and used.

Your Child is Too Big for the Seat.  You bring your new bundle of joy home in the infant seat, they grow quickly, when do you move up to the next size. Sometimes it might be easy to judge if they outgrow the seat. When they pass the height or weight limits you will need to change seats to accommodate these new changes. You can check the manufacturer’s site for specifics on whether your car seat is still a good fit. Or follow this guide.

Moving to a forward-facing or booster seat too soon.  The AAP policy says it’s best to keep kids rear-facing until they turn 2 or meet the maximum height and weight for the seat. Studies say that children under 2 are less likely to be severely injured (or worse) if they are riding rear-facing. Newer car seats are equipped with higher height and weight limits to help encourage rear-facing.  But, just because the child meets the minimum weight requirement for a booster seat does not mean they are ready to move up. It comes down to if they can sit correctly in the seat and maintain proper belt positions at all times.

More is not merrier in this case.  Do not use both LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) and the safety belt, use the incorrect LATCH anchors, or use a LATCH past its weight limit. What you need to use will depend on your car and the type of seat. One or the other may be the best option, but you shouldn’t need to use both. Double-check your car seat manual to make sure you’re using the correct anchors. You should also note that the lower anchors have weight limits, so you have to switch to vehicle seat belt installation if/when the weight your child + car seat exceeds 65lbs.

Used Seat = Better Deal.  Expiration dates, prior accidents, cleanliness- there are all sorts of reasons why to purchase a new seat instead of buying a used one. If you are tight on money, research and see which local organizations offer inexpensive options. You’re carrying precious cargo remember, don’t skip the small stuff!

Taking kids out of car seats too soon.  When does a child get to ride like a normal passenger? Great question!  When the child can sit all the way back with knees bent over the edge of the seat with their seatbelt properly across the shoulder and the thighs. They need to be able to maintain this position throughout the ride, even if asleep. Check your state requirements, most require the use of a booster through age 8 or 9 (or once they hit a certain height or weight requirement).

Incorrect use of the chest clip.  Don’t brush this piece off. It’s actually a crucial feature to the seat, that could end up saving your child’s life. The clip holds the straps so that if an accident happens, the straps will remain secure on the child’s shoulders, allowing full protection from the seat. A clip in the wrong spot could result in ejection, internal injuries, or even death. 

Straps need to be snug.  One rule to remember: if you can pinch excess strap between your fingers, or if the straps are twisted or gaping, they are too loose. The child’s clothes should never be buckled in while wearing them. You may think it adds “padding” but in an accident, it will compress and leave space that could cause injury.

Wrong harness slot.  The manual for the car seat will be specific to your exact seat, but usually, placement depends on the direction the seat is facing. Rear-facing: straps should thread into harness slot at or below the shoulders. Forward-facing: straps should thread into harness slot at or above the shoulders.

It’s ONLY a car seat.  Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children. Car seats save lives.

Take the time to properly install your car seat before use and have it inspected by a certified technician for assurance.

Again, your child is precious cargo, take precautionary measures now before you could regret it later.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

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