As a teacher, family-teacher conferences made me somewhat anxious. I wondered if I would have enough information for each family or if they would leave feeling like I didn’t know their child. So, I made conferences very conversational, and as a result, families typically walked away with vague next steps, and I rarely saw changes in student performance. What could I do to change this?
Enter my “a-ha” moment. I realized that the doctors I trust the most are ones who confidently state my diagnosis and the steps I need to take to see improvement. Why should a family-teacher conference be any different? As a teacher, I too should confidently state each student’s current level of achievement and the steps for both the student and their family to take to see additional growth.
IXL Analytics made this not only possible, but successful. I was able to give families a clear and concise action plan, which led to increases in family involvement, student at-home practice, and ultimately, student gains.
Here are my top 3 tips for using IXL in family-teacher conferences so that you too can see these results in your own classroom:
Show parents how to monitor their child’s progress
Students can view their own Analytics in their accounts, and showing families how to use those reports to check in on their child’s IXL activity and progress is a good way to get them more involved!
- The Score Chart gives them a quick look at how their child has performed on each skill. In my conferences, I celebrated the skills on which the student had earned a SmartScore of 80 (proficiency, which was our class goal for skills) or higher. I also pointed out skills their child hadn’t achieved proficiency yet, as ones the family should continue to prioritize and practice at home.
- I also used the Progress & Improvement report to highlight their child’s achievements. The report shows every skill a student has practiced, and their score progression for each. One of the goals I set for my class was to achieve proficiency in at least 20 skills every 9 weeks, and using this report, I could quickly show parents if their child was meeting that goal.
Give families insight on their child’s knowledge levels
Parents are interested in knowing where their child stands on grade-level objectives. Whether the student is on, above, or below grade level, having this confirmation can lead to meaningful discussion about how to help them grow from where they are. If your students have been consistently using the Real-Time Diagnostic, you can easily access this data!
- From your Diagnostic Overview, print out each student’s Student Action Plan. Walk the parents through their child’s overall math, reading, and language arts levels, as well as their levels in individual strands, and what the levels mean (e.g. 400 means ready to start 4th grade material; 450 means they know about half of the 4th grade material).
- Show parents how to access these printouts from their child’s account. They can then download the action plan at regular intervals to see how their student progresses throughout the year. Another thing I recommend is to teach families to focus on growth over time, rather than on the levels themselves. This is a good way to encourage a growth mindset among both the parents and the student!
Guide parents to next steps to help their child grow
End your conference by showing parents and students the specific actions they can take to continue making progress!
- The Student Action Plan shows the recommended skills in each strand that the student should work on in order to fill gaps in knowledge and build on what they already know. These skills are personalized for their child based on how they responded in the Real-Time Diagnostic.
- Let families know that for additional personalized guidance, they can use the Recommendations wall. Based on their work in the IXL curriculum and the Real-Time Diagnostic, the Recommendations wall offers five different types of recommendations to meet each students’ learning needs, whether it’s to help them work out trouble spots, try new topics, or strive for mastery. It’s also fun for the student – a choose-your-own-adventure where they customized suggestions, but it’s up to them to decide where to go next!