Tag Archives: Conferences

Rick Wormeli SBG Conference

I just got back from a 2-day conference in Albuquerque that was surprisingly good. I say “surprising” because it was a 2-day conference that had only 1 presenter for the full time both days, but he was very entertaining, obviously knew his stuff, and was extremely passionate about his topic, which I appreciate. I would highly recommend going and listening to Rick Wormeli (pronounced “Worm-lee”, not “Worm-el-lee” like we had been saying it.)

I don’t have much time tonight, so I’m only going to reflect on the items that I summarized and took away during the conference. I will say that this conference impacted me and motivated me greatly, so I am planning on changing several things for next year. Let me quickly give my background and then the main items I took away from the conference:

My Background

I have an SBG grading system which accounts for 70% of a student’s grade, and participation points which account for 30% of a student’s grade. So I’ve tried SBG, and I love it, but I know I can improve it, I just didn’t have a good grasp of how I should improve it.

(Some of) My Takeaways

Here’s what I got out of this conference, in no particular order [1]:

  • Consider changing my 1, 2, 3, 4 scale away from that (perhaps 0, 1, 2, 3 or even 0, 1, 2) because of confusion between/bad reminder of GPA.
  • Do and practice descriptive feedback, which should not be graded.
  • Do Pre-assessment (I’ll blog more on this later)
  • I need to work on defining mastery by standard. Joining NCTM would go a long way in helping me since I’m the only Precal teacher at my school.
  • Stop doing Participation Points. I’ve considered this before, but am more convinced of this.
  • Include previous material on Quizzes/Assessments. I knew this, but was reminded of how little I do it.
  • Show students multiple ways of studying: have them struggle to come up with 25 different ways to do this. Then have them struggle to come up with 25 more ways to do this.
  • Create a form and give students ways to plan for studying.
  • Disaggregate my grades. This will be dependent on my administration going along with this and finding the technology to do this. Fortunately my principal was also at this conference and was highly convinced of the necessity for this.
  • Mandate students to take re-dos.
  • Identify “essential” vs “non-essential” (secondary) standards.
  • Use different symbols to report “grades” for formative assessments.

So you see, even though I’ve done SBG for a year now, I still got a lot out of this conference which has certainly helped me to direct my ideas. I am very hopeful, not only for my classroom, but for all the classrooms in my school as I hope that I can persuade my colleagues of the importance of this idea.

By the way, Rick was not only passionate about SBG, but during every break (even lunch!) he was willing to continue discussing and answering questions from people. He is a true educator!


[1] I think it’s in the order that I realized these things in the conference, more or less.



Filed under Teaching

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Had conferences with parents this past week, and they went alright, considering how exhausted I was.  I like how our school does conferences: there are two days where all the teachers are set up at tables in our gym from 5pm to 8pm and parents can come in and can go find all their child’s teachers in the same close proximity.  Usually it is the case that the parents you need to see don’t show up, and the students who are doing fine have very helpful parents where the conference goes a bit like this:

Me: Well, your child is an absolute pleasure to have in class.  Thank you for having he/she/it at this school.

Parent: Thank you, so-and-so says he/she/it likes your class as well.

Me: Thank you.  I look forward to continuing to work with your child.

The End

Fortunately a handful of parents showed up where their child had F’s, and in every single case, they were thankful for “how many opportunities I give for their child to succeed and he/she/it is going to work harder in the future.”  I believe most of them.  I also exhausted my supply of oxygen explaining participation points, but I think it was worth it.  Here’s the sheet I handed them, which was also hopefully helpful:

I even received very positive feedback from the one parent who sent an angry e-mail just a few weeks earlier.  The parents got on my side once they realized that “Participation Points” were not a subjective measurement and it was simply that their child was not doing work outside of class.

Just curious if other people have more advice for parent-teacher conferences, from experience.  I always try to include something positive the child has been doing and really try to demonstrate that I have a personal knowledge of how much effort their child is putting into my class.  Anecdotes are always bonuses.  But the thing that really helped this time was pointing out, at least for every student with an F or a low grade, at least 3 different ways their child could be doing better, and I hope that the parents truly follow up, as I believe most will.

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Filed under Teaching