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WE Innovate – Digital Conferencing at Stoller Middle School

With the lack of in-person conference time for parents and teachers this spring, the sixth grade "Blue" team at Stoller Middle School, Megan Chrisman, Madeleine Hudson, Larry Healy and Dennis Andrew, decided to conduct conferences digitally instead. With the help of their Library Instructional Technology Teacher (LITT), Sarah Blattner, the team used a combination of the Canvas Learning Information System, and StudentVue to have students self-assess their strengths and weaknesses academically and behaviorally, for their core classes then - using that reflection - set goals for the second semester.

"That was kind of how conferences were already set up to work – we planned to have the students do the same reflection prior to coming in with their parents for the conferences, so this was now totally need driven when conferences got canceled to shift the dynamic to a digital platform," says Madeline Hudson.

The digital conference process was broken into three steps, making each step a Canvas module. To add a personal touch to the process, the team included a group selfie in the first module to welcome students and parents to conferences. In the first module students examined their academic strengths and weaknesses using StudentVue, and then responded to a Canvas survey/quiz asking them what their strongest and weakest academic learning targets were for each class.

The next module asked students to look at their three behavioral learning targets and give themselves a "Consistently and Independently," "Generally," or "Rarely" for actions associated with each target. This assignment was created by embedding a Google Form into the Canvas assignment. By embedding the Google Form, students could use this easy response method without leaving Canvas. This also allowed the teaching team to simultaneously aggregate class data.

"We wanted to use Canvas because we wanted parents to get a feel for what that process is like, because more and more learning is moving toward a digital platform," states Megan Chrisman.

Finally, students completed one last module of setting themselves a behavioral goal for their classes, saying what they would do to accomplish that goal, and how they would know if they were accomplishing it. To verify that they had completed the conferencing process with their parents, students could choose to either print and sign a paper form, or submit a "selfie" taken with their parents on their Chromebooks.  This was then uploaded as a digital submission for the assignment.

"The last step was definitely the most rewarding for us to see as teachers, not only because of the goal setting, but also because of the ability it gave us to see students with their parents, even though we couldn't meet in person," says Madeleine. "Seeing students relaxed and with their parents was so awesome."