Math Conferences

Math Conferences



hi I'm Madison Lowry and I'm gonna be talking to you about many conferences in the math classroom so there's one thing that math teachers do really well and that's not giving our students a bunch of written feedback on their exams and assignments because I think we know as math teachers that that kind of written feedback is really important it's usually confusing and honestly a lot of our students aren't even gonna read it that closely or remember it for next time but where we fall short in the math classroom is that we don't supplement our instruction with a lot of verbal feedback we may think we do this by giving small amounts of praise to our students when they participate in very small class discussions or in our lectures by offering examples or answers but really this just doesn't cut it so what I'm proposing instead is that we hold mini conferences with our students each day now I know that you're probably thinking is there really time for that David conferences with all of our students is that even worth it but I assure you there's plenty of time to do it so let me break it down for you a good mini conference will last anywhere between 30 seconds in three minutes so even if we only devote thirty minutes of our class time to independent and guided practice each day that means we're still going to be meeting with at least ten students a day if we spend the maximum amount of three minutes per student but we'll probably end up meeting with way more so what that means is that even if we have a huge class of 30 students it's only gonna take us three days to meet with all of our students at least once and in a five-day week that we have that means we're gonna be meeting with at least 50 of our students so if we're meeting with 50 students per class that means that we've met with all of our students at least once and probably most of our students multiple times so this is a very achievable and doable thing in our classroom so what exactly is a mini conference it's basically just a very informal meeting with our students were to meet them wherever they're working during independent guided practice time so you get about shoulder level or I love all with their students while they're working at their desks or in small groups and the goal of mini conferences is really just to have an open conversation with their students about the math that they're working on so my favorite things to start with are hey Hannah how's it going or hey Matt what are you working on there's lots of different types of mini conferences and as teachers we have to make a snap decision on where this conference is going to take us because remember it's only gonna last at maximum three minutes so one of the types of conferences we can do is a motivating conference in motivating conferences one of the best things we can do is to encourage our students by pointing out the strategies that they've been using in their math that they might not even be aware of so we could say something like hey Steve I see that you've underlined all these things in the story problem that shows me that you really understand what the important parts are of this problem or could say something like hey Jenna it looks like in these other problems you've gone back and plugged your answer back into the original problem that shows me that you really care about getting the right answer and it's a really smart thing that a lot of mathematicians do another type of confidence we can hold with their students is called a goal-setting conference and these can be really really short term goals such as bringing completed homework to class the next day or making it a goal to participate in discussion the following week those are just some of my favorite conferences to have with students but there's lots of other kinds we can also have a conference where we do a skill assessment we can help our students problem-solve whatever they're working on we can also have a recheck conference and those are really valuable because we can go back and see how they've been meeting the goals that we've set ultimately I value verbal feedback over written feedback in the classroom we may think we do this enough in our classrooms when we pray students for minor contributions during our lectures but really there's something so special and meaningful about being shoulder-to-shoulder or I level working one-on-one with our students I think it says that we care and to do anything with a class I think that our students need to trust that we care about their success above all other things good luck with your future mini conferences

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