In practice for over a decade at Head-Royce, 5th-grade student-directed parent-teacher conferences have finally gone digital! This spring 5th graders had the opportunity to showcase examples of their academic achievements and revisit future goals by designing personal websites that highlighted specific learning milestones, as well as aspirations, as they begin thinking about their transition to 6th grade.
“The fact that it’s digital makes our project a lot easier. I liked how free we were. We got to write about whatever we wanted and we weren’t told what to do. It’s more fun and organized this way. I really liked that my teacher and my parents could look at the best parts of my work this year in an organized display and see how it all fits together in my mind. At the end of my presentation, my parents told me my project was amazing!” reports Max R. ‘25 excitedly.
An exercise in precisely the type of active engagement outlined by the Teaching & Learning goal of Head-Royce’s current strategic plan, Lower School teacher Ben Ladue offered a bit of background on the long-standing tradition:
“Since I started at Head-Royce 11 years ago, we’ve taught a ‘Learning and the Brain’ unit in 5th grade where students explore Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, as well as their own personal learning styles, strengths, and challenges related to executive functioning and social skills.”
In traditional parent-teacher conferences, teachers report directly to parents about a student's academic progress with little to no input or reflection from the student. However, at Head-Royce fifth grade students take the wheel and lead their own spring parent-teacher conferences, in past years sharing paper copies of their work with parents. This year, after recognition that a significant amount of daily student work and projects entail some sort of computer component, the LS teaching team decided that a digital portfolio made more sense.
Using Google Sites, fifth graders designed personal websites including samples of their individual work and projects, as well as the collaborative projects they have been a part of, reflecting on their preferred learning styles and their learning profile, all for presentation to parents.
“It’s an opportunity for them to showcase examples of their success and identify areas of growth. We aim to empower students to take ownership of their learning and reflect on their accomplishments. It’s also an opportunity for them to set goals and think about how they will leverage their strengths in order to be successful in Middle School,” LS teacher Morgan May remarked.
In addition, students receive authentic practice presenting to an interested audience, boosting their confidence by being able to articulate their own understanding of themselves as learners.
What do students think about this new digital format? They loved the idea of making a website all about themselves! Many of them are already eager and fearless when it comes to creating on the computer, and the project allows them to add their own panache or creative elements that show off their skills and personalities.
“I think students presenting to parents is a really good idea because you usually can’t bring home all your work...so you get to show them all the work you’ve put in and they can always go back and review it for themselves because it’s online pretty much forever,” Sakeenah A. '25 relates.
As the School continues purposeful work towards the specific goals and initiatives of the 5-year Strategic Plan, our teaching faculty remains dedicated to building self-assurance and greater self-confidence in students as they prepare to enter and provide meaningful contributions to a rapidly advancing, technologically-driven world.
Bird's Eye View is a story series highlighting our work towards the initiatives and goals laid out in our Strategic Plan: Bridge to 2022.