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How to brush your teeth writing activities can work perfectly into your dental health lessons! I usually try to fit a few dental health lessons into my February plans and when I can combine it with narrative writing, it's a winning combination!


Do you find that your students need some guidance with brushing their teeth? I teach in a low income school district and some of my students don't even have tooth brushes.  I always like to teach this lesson in February, to go along with dental health month, but it could be a great back to school lesson too!

To start the lesson, I like to read a book about caring for your teeth to give my students some background for the lesson. I like this little book called Ready, Set, Brush!.  It's a pop up book with little pieces that move like a toothbrush and a little wheel to show how much toothpaste to put on the brush.  Kids love pop up books!


We also watch some videos on YouTube that teach kids all about proper brushing and why it's so important for healthy teeth. 


Did you know that you can order toothbrush and toothpaste samples from Colgate Bright Smiles? Be sure to put your order in early because it takes some time to receive it in the mail, but it's totally free! The kits change each year and sometimes they have a video or book that comes with it too!



After we have a good background on the importance of brushing our teeth, we work together to write the steps for how to brush your teeth on a large chart.  The students help write the words with interactive writing. 



Next I have the students write the steps for brushing their teeth.  I have several differentiated templates and I sometimes let the students choose which one they want to use or I will assign templates to students according to their ability.  I give them a small Tooth Word Bank to help them in their writing.



Finally we finish up with a cute Timmy The Tooth craft holding a toothbrush and toothpaste.  I usually hang these out in the hall on the bulletin board for February dental health month!


And of course, no lesson about teeth would be complete without mentioning the Tooth Fairy, right? Read about our magical visit from the tooth fairy here...she delivers toothbrushes and toothpaste to all the kids! 

If you'd like to try this lesson in your classroom, you can take a better look at everything included here. 













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Bossy R activities for first grade can be fun and engaging when you add a cute story like The Bossy R sisters! This lesson on r-controlled vowels was a hit with my first grade students and it's sure to help your students learn all about this spelling pattern too.



R-controlled vowels can be difficult for first graders. They all sound so similar and it can be confusing to kids.  It's important, when teaching this skill, to give your students lots of visual clues to help them remember the difference between ar, or, ir, er and ur. 

When I teach "ar" I always tell the students it makes the sound like a pirate....arrrrgh! And when I teach "or" that is a pretty simple sound because it is the same as the word or. But, when you get to the three tricky ones - ir, er, and ur how do you tell the difference?   So that is how "The Bossy R Sisters" were born. 

We started our lesson with one of our favorite YouTube characters Geraldine The Giraffe.  She's a cute puppet that's learning about letters, sounds and words.  Her videos are quick (only a few minutes long) but they pack a lot of punch in their lessons. They're also funny and the kids love them!



We also watched this controlling r video as a quick review of all the bossy r sounds. 



Afterwards, we reviewed our anchor chart for Bossy R.  We've been working for about two weeks on this chart. Each time we learned one of the new bossy r sounds, we added a new column to our chart. 


Next it was time to introduce the story of the Bossy R Sisters! This simple little story is about 3 sisters who - you guessed it - like to boss the vowels around. But they're also helpful.....one sister is a teacher, one is a nurse, and one is a firefighter girl.  The story of the Bossy R sisters includes picture cards and as I told the story to the students,  I put the pictures in the pocket chart.  After the story, I gave each of the students a "bossy r" word to read and match to a picture. 




Next, I paired the students up and they moved to a table to play the game "Who's The Boss", a cute little game where they read bossy r words to get to the finish. We love to play partner games to reinforce skills in our class. The best thing is that the game is differentiated into three levels, so I could pair kids by ability.




We also practiced the bossy r rule with some hands on task cards.  The kids used magnetic letters to fill in the missing letters on these task cards. 


When we were finished, the students did a quick assessment using these differentiated worksheets.  


I hope this gave you some ideas on how to help your students learn the sounds of Bossy R. If you'd like to do this lesson with your own class, you can take a closer look at it here

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Valentine writing prompts are great to use during the month of February.  They make a fun topic for kindergarten and first grade students to write about and the kids love it!



Are you looking for a way to get your kids engaged in writing? Well I've always found that a tasty treat can do the trick! Why not try some valentine candy and do a little opinion writing why you're at it? Take a look at how I keep my kids in love with the writing process....

Do You Like Candy Hearts?

Love em' or hate em'....candy hearts are a classic treat on Valentine's Day. So we decided to see what the fuss was all about.  We started out with one of my favorite valentine books to set the mood, Valentine's Day Is by Gail Gibbons.  I love all of her books, especially when I am introducing a new holiday to the students.



After reading the story, I told the students that sometimes people give Candy Conversation Hearts to their friends on Valentine's Day.  I asked them if they had ever tried the candy and gave each student a few pieces to taste.  

Next we made a class graph and asked the question "Do You Like Candy Hearts?"


After this, we made a chart together with interactive writing and the students brainstormed different words to describe this candy. 



Finally it was time for the students to write their opinion of this classic treat.  The students used a writing template to tell their opinion of candy hearts. They are learning that when they tell their opinion they should state their opinion, give 2-3 reasons why they feel the way they do and restate their opinion at the end.  When they were finished they made a simple candy heart craft.


Do you Like Valentine Chocolates?

Another fun way to practice opinion writing at Valentine's Day is to try some valentine chocolates! Who doesn't love chocolate right? 

Well, when you let students choose from a mixed box of chocolates, you never know what you will get! Some children loved their candy and others didn't like it at all!

For this lesson, we started out with another of my favorite valentine books Love Monster and the Last Chocolate by Rachel Bright.  This is the cutest story about a little monster who struggles with the decision to share the chocolates with his friends....but in the end he finds out that sharing with friends is the sweetest treat of all. 


I purchased a box of chocolates for my class and let each student choose which piece they wanted to try.



We followed the same process with this lesson as we did with the conversation hearts.  We made a list of words that described the chocolates.  Most students liked their candy, although a few didn't. 



Finally I gave each of the students a Valentine Word Bank and they used this writing template to write their opinion of valentine chocolates.





When they were finished they made a cute Box Of Chocolates valentine craft.  We used real candy sprinkles on some of the candies to give it a 3D effect and they turned out so cute! 



Are you ready to get your kids excited about writing too? Grab these Valentine Writing Activities here. 








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Winter weather activities are a great way to fit your science standards into your day and learning about how water changes in winter is one of my favorite units!



I don't know about you, but I sure have a hard time fitting science into my day.  There are so many other things to teach and sometimes science and social studies are the first to go.  But I don't like that because, it's the most fun! I've found that by combining these standards with my writing activities helps me fit everything into my day.

Activity 1

We started off with a pre-assessment to see how much students knew about water changes.




To begin our unit, we watched a non fiction powerpoint that teaches the students all about how water changes in winter. 





Next, we work together to create a large graphic organizer web about how water changes in winter.   We worked together to brainstorm different ideas to add to the web. 


Activity 2

After this I showed the students the steps for informational writing.  We used the graphic organizer to get our ideas and the students helped me develop my report. We talked about the different parts of informational writing as the students helped me write my report. 



Next it was time for the students to write their own reports.  First they made their own graphic organizer and then they used an informational writing template to help them write their report about how water changes in winter. 



I love these templates because they are differentiated to meet the needs of all my students.  Plus, they have a built in rubric for easy grading. 

Activity 3

Next we learned all about snowflakes.  Did you know that no two snowflakes are alike? We read the book about a man named Snowflake Bentley who studied snowflakes all his life.  He took photographs of real snowflakes and the students were fascinated by these icy crystals.



We also watch a little time lapse video of a real snowflake which the kids loved.  

Finally it was time for the kids to make their own snowflakes.  We learned that snowflakes have six sides, so we started with a hexagon in the middle of our paper followed by 6 q tips as the sides.  



After that, the students added lots of sparkle and shine with little bits of aluminum foil, beads and other scraps. 



They learned that snowflakes are symmetrical, so the students tried to make sure each side of their snowflake was the same. 









As a little bonus, we decided to do a little science project to see what makes water melt the fastest - salt, flour, hot water or cold water......which do you think did the job???





We had a great couple of days learning about how water changes.  If you want to try these activities in your room, you can grab it here








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Snowmen at Work by Carol Beuhner is a great book to read in those snowy winter months.  Just what do snowmen do all night, anyway? Well we know they like to play, but they have jobs to do too!



This week we decided to take a trip to the Snowman Village and spend a day in the life of a snowman!

We started out by reading the book Snowmen at Work and then we made a list of jobs that snowmen might be doing while we are sleeping.





Next, I told the students the they would be visiting the Snowman Village! I set up 8 different math and literacy stations around the room and the students got to visit each one, trying out some of the different jobs that snowmen at work might do. 

Along the way they went to the Snowman Cafe, the snowman dentist, and even tried out some fishing at the local ice fishing pond! My students love spending a day in the life of different characters in our classroom!

Station 1 - Snowman Detective

Oh no! Someone has stolen a snowman and hid all the parts all over town! At this station, the students put on their detective hat and set to work finding all the missing snowman parts.  As each part was found, they wrote it on their worksheet in this cute "write the room" activity. 


Station 2 - Snowman Cafe

Students made a stop at the Snowman Cafe where they made some snowman soup - hot chocolate with marshmallows! After they enjoyed this tasty treat they did a little sequencing page where they put the steps in the correct order. 



Station 3 - Do You Want To Build A Snowman?

A trip to the Snowman Village wouldn't be complete without building a snowman! At this station, the students practiced addition while playing this fun game.  Each player had a set of snowman pieces and the object of the game was to be the first person to build their snowman.  


Station 4 - Snowman Fishing

A trip to the local ice pone was next! Here the students used a magnetic fishing pole (a dowel rod with a magnet attached) to fish for words with "s" blends.  Every time they hooked a word, they could put it in their fishing bucket.  But watch out! If the ice cracked, they had to throw them all back in.  The first one to fill their pail, won.  They loved this activity so much!


Station 5 - Snowman Dentist

The kids found out that even snowmen have to visit the dentist! The students practiced subtraction story problems at this center.  They used their word mat and little white pom poms as teeth to help them solve their problems. Then they wrote the subtraction sentence on the worksheet. 


Station 6 - Snowman Builder

At this station, the students built their own snowman house out of a Styrofoam cups and mini marshmallows.  They attached their cups to a piece of tag board and then added little houses, snowmen, trees, etc to make their own mini snowman village!

Station 7 - Snowman School

No town is complete without school! At this station the students visited the Snowman School where they worked to see how many words they could make out of the letters in SNOWMAN. 



Station 8 - Snowman Village Bump

Finally, the students finished off their trip to Snowman Village with a little game of bump! They used their addition skills to try and bump their opponent off the board in this cute game. 


When all of the students had visited the stations, it was time to reflect and do some writing.  Each student chose the job that they liked best and wrote why they thought it would be the best snowman job. 


This was the perfect way to spend a cold and snowy day in January! When the weather is too cold to get outside, bring the snowman village inside! If you're planning a winter parent night, these activities would be perfect for that, too! Take a closer look at each of these activities here. 





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Classroom elf activities are always fun during December. Your students will love completing an elf application and spending a day in the life of an elf as they travel from station to station trying out the different jobs of an elf!



Imagine the excitement in the air when your students find out they will be applying for the job of a North Pole elf! That's what happened in our classroom when my students filled out an official Elf Application and then got the chance to try out some of the jobs of Santa's elves.

We started out with one of my favorite December stories  Jolly Old Santa Claus. I love this book because it shows the children the North Pole and all of the different jobs of Santa's elves.


Next, we made a list of some of the different jobs that elves do at the North Pole. We used the interactive writing technique, where students share the pen with the teacher and write the words as the rest of the class helped them sound out tricky words. 



After creating our list, students filled out this free Official Elf Application to apply to be one of Santa's North Pole elves! They had to answer questions like "Do you like cookies?" and "Will you feed the reindeer?".  The application even included a section where students used persuasive writing to tell Santa why he should pick them for the job.


  


The next day, students spent a day in the life of an elf.  They visited 8 different stations and tried out some of the jobs of Santa's elves.  

The Elves Make Cookies

At this station, students decorated real Christmas cookies with frosting and sprinkles. They also made a simple cookie craft where they cut out a cookie and decorated it with paper frosting and marker sprinkles.  







The Elves Feed The Reindeer

At this station, students made magic reindeer food.  They colored a Magic Reindeer Food topper and then mixed together the ingredients of oatmeal, birdseed and "magic reindeer dust" (glitter!).  They each got to take home a bag of reindeer food to sprinkle on their lawn on Christmas eve, 



The Elves Trim The Trees

At this station, our little elves got to decorate some Christmas trees with this cute Christmas tree craft.  



The Elves Make Clothing

We all know that Santa's elves have to sew and make their own clothing, so at this station the students made a cute elf hat that even included some special elf ears! We attached them to sentence strip headbands and the kids looked adorable as they traveled from station to station in their official elf hats!


The Elves Help Santa Check His List

One of the most important jobs at the North Pole is helping Santa make his naughty and nice list! At this station the kids played a game called Who's Naughty or Nice? where they had to read cards and decide if the action on the card was naughty or nice.  


The Elves Have Snowball Fights

All work and no play is no fun for the elves, right? They have to have some fun too and of course at the North Pole one of the best things to do is have a snowball fight! At this station, kids had fun throwing snowballs (giant marshmallows) into the styrofoam cup snow fort of their opponent.  

Each time they landed in a cup, they had to find the matching doubles fact to their answer and put a mini marshmallow on their opponents snow fort.  They first person to fill the fort with marshmallows knocked their opponents fort down and won the game! They LOVED this!


The Elves Make Christmas Cards

Finally, our little elves made the cutest thumbprint Christmas cards to give to their family.  They could choose from a string of lights or some mini reindeer on their thumbprint cards.  So cute!


This truly was a memorable and magical day for the students in my class.  They loved all the hands on activities and thought it was so fun to try out different elf jobs!  If you'd like to make some Christmas memories with your class too, you can grab A Day In The Life Of An Elf here. 


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December is a great month for the story The Gingerbread Man.  I mean, what child doesn't love candy, cookies and sweets??? Now that's how you grab their attention!! So as soon as I got back from our Thanksgiving vacation, I broke out the Gingerbread books and we had a blast.



There are so many versions of The Gingerbread Man, it's hard to pick! Unfortunately there just isn't enough time to read all of them so I chose my favorites.  We like to read one each day and then we make a comparison chart.


I always begin with the traditional tale of The Gingerbread Man and then follow with The Gingerbread Girl and The Gingerbread Baby. I usually like to do some activities with gingerbread houses too but had a hard time finding a Christmas tale about these yummy treats.....until this year!! I took to google and did a search and found the cutest book called Gingerbread Mouse about a little mouse in search of shelter who finds a perfect little gingerbread house to call home. SCORE! 

We've been learning all about story elements and how they help us in our comprehension so we compared each book and talked about characters, setting and plot. 


We wrote letters to the Gingerbread Man / Gingerbread Girl and tried to talk them out of running away! We also made our own gingerbread kids.  Aren't the adorable?? The only pattern that my firsties had was the actual gingerbread.  Then they went to town creating their own gingerbread people.  No patterns needed when they come up with such awesome creations on their own!




After reading Gingerbread Mouse, we made a large gingerbread house and we covered it with adjectives that would describe our house.



Next it was time for the students to make their own gingerbread house with some tasty descriptions! Again, no patterns for these houses and I think they look delish!





                

And of course, we couldn't do a mini unit on gingerbread without making some REAL  candy houses!! We used milk cartons as our base and frosting as our "glue".  We covered them with graham crackers and candies.  What a fun way to end the week!!


We also incorporated some math into our week with these fun gingerbread games! We practiced our addition, measurement and some graphing.  



Need some more gingerbread inspiration? Check out what we did after reading The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.  We adopted gingerbread babies of our own! So fun!
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These pilgrim activities are sure to make your lessons on long ago and today engaging and memorable for your students. Are you learning about the first Thanksgiving? It's the perfect time to fit those social studies standards on life long ago into your lessons.


We have been learning all about Thanksgiving and what life was like for the Pilgrims.  We decided to spend one day comparing our life to theirs, so we stepped into the shoes of a Pilgrim and tried out some of their daily chores with these pilgrim activities.  

I set up 8 different stations and the students rotated around to each one, doing a different activity that the Pilgrim children would have done in their daily life.  Take a look at everything we did!

Station 1 - The pilgrims wrote with a feather quill.

At this area, students tried writing with a feather quill.  The quickly found out that using a pencil was much easier!





Station 2 - The pilgrims made quilts.

At this station, the students created their own paper quilt square using pre cut triangles.  They glued them on their square and then we mounted all of our quilt pieces together to make a class friendship quilt!




Station 3 - The pilgrims cooked.

Now it was time for the students to try a little cooking! We worked together to make a pumpkin pie and then the kids did a sequencing page when they were finished. 








Station 4 - The pilgrims planted gardens.

At this station, each child planted a seed.  We will water them and watch them grow in our classroom Pilgrim garden.




Station 5 - The pilgrims hunted.

The students loved this Thanksgiving themed write the room activity.  I hid 9 different animal pictures around the classroom.  They were woodland animals that the pilgrims might have seen when they were out hunting.  The students looked around the room for animals and wrote them down as they spotted them on their hunt!





Station 6 - The pilgrims fished.

What kid can resist a magnetic fishing pole? At this station, the students fished for addition facts.  Each time they caught a fish they had to find the correct answer on their worksheet and color it in. 



Station 7 - The pilgrims built houses.

During our unit on the first Thanksgiving, we learned that the pilgrims had to build their homes.  We used mini pretzel sticks and a cute worksheet to built our own pilgrim houses.



Station 8 - The pilgrims made clothing.

Finally, at our last station, the children practiced sewing using lacing cards of pilgrim dresses and shirts. 




If you're looking for some new activities for Thanksgiving, these stations are sure to keep your students engaged and learning! Hop over here to take a closer look at everything that's included.  


Looking for more First Thanksgiving Ideas? Take a look at the companion resource - The First Thanksgiving Interactive Book. 






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Halloween writing activities wouldn't be complete without a few monsters, wouldn't you agree?  We had a great time this week making and writing about some spooky creatures!


Day 1

We started out the lesson by reading aloud When a Monster Is Born by Sean Taylor.  This circle story begins with a tale about what happens when monsters are born and it was perfect for our lesson on adopting our own monster!


After we read the story, we talked about what monsters looked like.  We worked together in interactive writing to create this chart with adjectives that describe monsters. 

When we were finished, my firsties made their own monsters! I had trays filled with different patterns for bodies, eyes, ears, hands feet, etc and the kids could choose whatever they wanted to make their own silly monster. 



Next, it was time for the students to write their own list of adjectives to describe their monster.



Day 2

The next day, the students made a little baby book about their monster.  They gave their monster a name, wrote about where it was born, it's first outing and it's "beastie" friends!





Day 3

Finally, it was time for the students to write a little story about their monster. I began by reading them the story Go Away, Big Green Monster!  by Ed Emberly.  We reviewed our adjectives chart describing monsters. 


Next,  I made my own large monster and show the students how to write a story about a monster in shared writing. I showed them how to include adjectives to describe their monster.  We also practiced writing commas in a series. 


Then,  it was time for the students to write their own stories. They used their list of adjectives from the day before to help them in their writing. 


Want to adopt some monsters in your room too? Grab Adopt a Monster here. 


Have you seen the other resources in my Adopt series? Click here to check them all out!
















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Parent conferences - love 'em or hate 'em, they are a necessary part of the job of teaching.  Do you struggle to think of things to say? Are you worried you might have to meet with an angry parent? Or possibly have a parent break down and cry? These are things that I've encountered over the years, and although those situations can be challenging, meeting with parents is one of the most important parts of your job as a teacher.




Parent conferences can give you great insight into your students and their background.  It's also a great time to get parents on your side, which ultimately helps both the students and you.  Here are a few tips to help you have successful parent teacher conferences:


1. Dress To Impress

First impressions count.  Take the time to dress professionally when meeting with a parent.  That doesn't mean that you have to go out and buy a brand new suit.  But you should wear school appropriate attire. It not only shows respect but also tells parents that you are a professional that they can trust.




2. Welcoming Environment

Chances are, parents will get to their appointment a few minutes early.  Set up a nice area outside your classroom with things they can look at, while they wait for you to finish with other parents.  It's always good to have student work samples hanging on a fresh, colorful bulletin board.  Another nice touch is having student journals on display or maybe even a letter from students to parents welcoming them to your class.  Do you take classroom photos of your students in action? Why not have a simple slideshow running on a loop out in the hallway.  Parents LOVE to see their own children hard at work in a great classroom community!

3.  Parent BEFORE Teacher

Always begin your conference with the simple question "Do you have any concerns or questions before we begin?" This does two things.  It lets the parents know that you care what they think and want to help them.  Most times parents will say they just want to know how their child is doing in school.  But secondly, it gets their worries off the table.  If they do voice a question or concern, you can discuss it right away.  Chances are, if they are concerned about something, that's all they want to know about.  So if you launch into a big litany about their child before addressing their concern, they may not really be listening or receptive, because they only have one thing on their mind.



4. Be Prepared

Do your homework before the meeting.  Think about what you want to tell parents about their child before the meeting.  Be prepared for questions that they may ask you.

I once went to parent conference for my own son.  When I asked her what reading level he was on, she couldn't tell me.  When I asked to see some samples of his work, she didn't have any.  I can assure you that when I left that meeting, I didn't have a lot of confidence in that teacher and was worried what the year would hold for my son.

Know the answers to important questions.  Do you need to have every child's grades memorized? No.  But it's a good idea to have a copy of them in front of you, along with their reading level, behavior reports and any other important information you might want to discuss.



5.  Work Samples

It's a great idea to create a folder for each child in your classroom.  I like to start this on the first day of school.  I keep a hanging file for each student where I keep important papers.  This is where you can keep things like notes from parents, behavior reports, work samples (good and bad), progress reports, testing reports, etc.  You can use these as discussion points in your conference or even as back up if a parent questions something you are doing or that their child is doing.

I once had a parent come to a conference very upset with me because she said that I sent a note home saying her daughter was destructive.  She wanted to know what a 6 year old could possibly be doing that was so bad.  I was confused and said I wasn't sure what she was referring to. She insisted that I had sent this note home.  Together, we looked through her file for this "note".  I found what she was referring to and the note actually said her daughter was distracted.....not destructive.  She immediately calmed down and realized that I had her child's best interest at heart and we had a very good conference that led to some great ideas to help her daughter.  Without that file, I probably would have simply had an angry parent that didn't trust or believe in me.



6.  Keep It Simple

On average, parent teacher conferences are scheduled in 15-20 minute intervals.  That time goes fast! This is not the time to talk about every infraction little Johnny has done since the first day of school.  I like to use a simple form, that I fill out ahead of time, with all my information in a simple concise format.  It helps keep my thoughts organized and I don't forget important things I might want to say.  You can grab this little freebie here. 



7. Take Notes

It's a good idea to take some notes during your conference with parents.  Number one, it's easy to forget or mix things up when you are meeting with multiple parents in the same evening.  Keep some post it notes handy to jot down notes or concerns and stick them in your students files.  This will make it easy for you to go back, when you have time, to revisit.  Number two, it also lets parents know that you value this time and that you will be sure to address any concerns they may have.  It also gives you proof, should the need arise,  if you need to go back and say "Remember when we discussed this at our conference?"



8. Be Nice

Finally, and most important of all, treat parents kindly.  Remember that this is their child that you are talking about.  No parent wants to hear that their child is struggling in school or misbehaving. Every parent wants to hear good things about their kids....so make sure you tell them something good in between those concerns.  I always like to begin my conference with a happy story or something that I am proud of their child for doing in class.  Build them up and let them know you really like their little boy or girl and are happy that they are in your class.  Save the concerns for the middle of the conference and always try to end on a positive note.  This will build trust between you and the parent and have them leave knowing that their child is in good hands.  





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